10 Lessons I Learnt From Being 26
This time last year, I was sat at my kitchen table in Newquay, looking back at being 25 whilst also maintaining an air of excitement about the impending chapter of change. I was similarly exhausted and ready for some down-time as my stint of being cafe-owner and coffee-hustler in beautiful Falmouth came to a close. Well, it’s pretty easy to admit that any predictions that I might have held for the following 12 months to come certainly didn’t align to the reality of what unfolded.
Always good to remind ourselves of lessons that we have previously learnt – THE LIFE VS. THE PLAN: remember to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening.
So with another year added to the landscape of my life that was mapped out entirely by some of the most extreme highs and lows to date, I’ve come out the other side feeling a little bit bruised and jaded but stubbornly pursuing a life with my eyes and heart wide open.
1. FIND YOUR TRIBE.
All we have in life is each other. Just be nice and love one another, for crying out loud. Find your tribe and tell them you love them every damn day. No person is an island – we need each other. The friends that home you without any questions when you don’t know where to go or what to do, the friend that drives to see you immediately when you have shocking news, and the friend that strokes your hair when you’re red wine drunk and tells you how beautiful you are (despite the smears of black-makeup-tears on your face) with such sincerity that you actually believe them – those people.
Find them and be with them.
The friends that betray you – well, you already know that they’re not worth your energy.
2. LEARN TO SIT WITH DISCOMFORT.
You know the kind of hurt that makes your stomach flip and your teeth involuntarily clench – that almost feels too unbearable to think about? Well, think about it. This is a different approach to constant dwelling. Rather, sit with it, and think about how you feel. Put aside time to deal with those feelings - read books, find quotes, talk to people. Listen to the songs that you thought you would never be able to listen to again, because they transport you back to a certain time or place. Well listen to them on repeat for half an hour and process how you feel. Talk and talk and talk until the stomach flip becomes less abrupt. My wedding song was/is one of my favourite songs, and the thought of listening to it when I first entered divorce land made me shudder. However, I'm trying to live a life with no regrets and I didn't want to avoid listening to it forever. It's a beauty - Hjaltalín
Sometimes the feelings of hurt do disappear, but you have to deal with that and only through listening to yourself will it get easier – I promise.
3. DO THINGS BECAUSE YOU WANT TO, NOT BECAUSE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE.
If you weren’t posting it on social media, would you be doing it anyway?
Act in life to satisfy your soul, not your social media feed.
4. IT'S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY.
My natural inhibition is to be okay – perhaps without really considering if I actually feel anything else. I spent a long time telling everyone I felt ‘okay’ (a word that probably became my most used for a while), but obviously the time inevitably came to not be okay. Just because you are okay today, doesn’t mean that you will wake up tomorrow feeling okay. Don’t force yourself to be okay. It’s okay to not be okay. Never forget that. Maybe stop using the word okay, because it doesn’t even really mean anything.
Stop building up even more barriers that you will need to get over and be honest.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
Your body is whispering gentle sweet nothings to you every second of the day – listen to it. This will be the first clue that you might not be okay. In all honesty, mine seems to have lost the plot at times. One ankle is swollen, and then the other as soon as one heals, I seem to have more break outs than ever before, I have nights I can’t sleep and sometimes my whole body just aches in an unexplainable way. I spent weeks finding myself not wanting to do any yoga, I couldn't face writing, I was suddenly drinking and smoking cigarettes like I was when I was 14. These are all signs from my being saying listen up – you need to love yourself again.
This process is not easy.
I keep telling myself that - learning to love yourself is not always easy.
6. LIVE LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS.
This was actually a lesson I included last year – but it’s important. All we have in life is choices – that is what defines not only our path but also who we are. You don’t have to be anything or be anyone other than who you are. Base success on your own standards – you know in your heart what really drives you. Accept that sometimes doing what you want to do is really hard, but be inspired – by others or by yourself. This is probably the greatest thing about being single (of which, there has been many great discoveries) - the opportunity to really address how you want to live your life.
Follow that heart, live on your own terms and take it one day at a time.
7. EVERYTHING IN LIFE IS UNCERTAIN.
That sounds a bit dark, but it’s the truth – and that’s what we’re hear to chat about; the truth. Uncertainty is the only certainty. Being present in your life is the only way to avoid slipping through months, or even years, in the same routine or circumstances; potentially mistaking the lack of awareness as certainty. It doesn’t exist.
And do you know what?
That should be exciting, not feared.
8. CULTIVATING THE LIFE YOU WANT CAN BE HARD.
The hardest break up of them all – leaving Cornwall.
Accepting that a place didn’t define my being was the hardest thing to process, but I still miss it every single day. Stepping into my life in Brighton & Hove has been a learning process – and is still very much so. Beneath the infectiously welcoming exterior, it still has that hardy city feel – people are tougher and the commute trains are lined with sour expressions in the morning light. There are so many ‘Fizzy Friday’ advertisements that it sometimes makes me feel a bit nauseous, in comparison to the quiet beauty of Cornwall.
This is a lesson still in the making, I’m sure – but ultimately, only you can gravitate towards the lifestyle that you want, wherever you are living.
9. GO OUTSIDE.
The easiest remedy to pretty much everything.
Even though the ocean life of Brighton is different to Cornwall, I find lacing up my trainers and stomping along the sea front calms me instantly and immediately gives me perspective on my place. Take your dinner down to the beach, take an early morning stroll, wake up earlier and walk to work if possible, get your friends together for an evening outside.
Breathe in all that beauty.
10. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
Fill your heart right up.
LOVE • LOVE • LOVE
Some love ends, some love is unconditional, some love is surprising, some love is strange - but at the end of it all, love is the fundamental basis for everything.
And lastly, I realised this morning that all a girl really wants for her birthday is avo on toast and a delicious smoothie (and sunshine and beach BBQ's...).
Turns out the Universe is on my side this year.