First things first, I don’t actually know very much, so we’ll get that one out of the way. Secondly, and in light of this first thing, I do take regular comfort in the knowledge that a lot of wise people say they’re totally clueless most of the time too. So, baring the first and second thing in mind, I figured I’d write down what I know anyway in honour of the last 29 years and 11 months (and mainly because I've found I thoroughly enjoy waffling away on the internet.) So, here are 30 random things I’d say are fairly true (and sometimes really annoying) from my life thus far.
1) We never forget those who were kind to us when we really needed it.
In case the rest of this list is rubbish, I put this first as I want you to know this is absolutely true. My granddad passed away aged 97 last December. His funeral turned into a much larger event than we had anticipated and the church became packed out with hundreds of people we had no idea had been affected in a positive way by his humble life. He spent his career as a headteacher in one of most disadvantaged parts of Manchester and at the end of the service, 3 people shyly approached my sister telling us; ‘Your grandfather taught us when we were at primary school nearly 60 years ago. We didn’t have a lot of money so he used to make sure the children he knew were poor got two dinners in case they didn’t get anything at home that night.” 60 years on and these people had never forgotten that kindness. In a world obsessed with being beautiful, right and clever - and getting recognised for it, being kind has become shoved down the priority list as something only remembered ‘if you have the time’, rather than as a way of operating in the world. Kindness has a ripple affect too and when I think about it, I still remember people who looked after me at my lowest ebb. I only see mounting evidence that it really is never forgotten and like my Grandfather, can have a lasting impact we may never come to know.
2) Always choose the full fat option (especially with butter).
3) Having a bikini body is boring, maintaining it even more so, and nobody even cares anyway.
Feeling good in your own skin is important (etc etc blah blah blah..) but in Tina Fey’s autobiography (the writer of ‘Mean Girls’), she talks about the time she got really skinny and in shape and how literally nothing in her life changed or really got any better. I can relate. The times in my life when I have been really in shape ultimately made very little difference to the things that actually make my life enjoyable (relationships, job performance, self esteem, friendships.) If you look at it in terms of a ‘return on investment’, hours spent in the gym avoiding cake vs. beneficial life outcomes, unless you're a model, investing too much time in your appearance is a complete false economy. Being that bothered about how I looked wasn’t very life enhancing at all and at one particular time I probably had the best body I’ve ever had yet the lowest self-esteem. Due to social media (yes, I will continue to blame this for everything, always..), the world has become obsessed with image. In the interest of not being a hypocrite, I’ve definitely joined in at times and how I look is and has been important to me. But its about keeping it in perspective because how you look affects nobody but you. Contrary to what the world likes to tell us, it’s the relationship with yourself that matters and how you treat other people – not how how flat your stomach is.
4) 30 is not a deadline, 40 is not a deadline – neither is 50,60,70 or 80 – for anything. Yes some things are harder at different ages, but the only real deadline for anything is you know, when you’re dead.
5) Its what you do, not what you say you’ll do.
As a chronic procrastinator, I am someone who sometimes really needs to say less and do more. At the end of the day everyone’s lives are a direct result of what they do, not what they sit around saying they’ll do. Even if you have the best laid out plan in the world, it’s useless without any action.
6) Get married when you find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Not because you’re nearly 30, or everyone else is doing it, or you’re worried you wont meet anyone else, or you have a dog together, or you’re worried you’re eggs will end up hard boiled, do it because you want to be with that person forever. No more, no less.
7) Watching endless re-runs of House and Greys Anatomy is not adequate revision for medical school exams.
Apparently you cannot subconsciously program medical knowledge into your brain via American Medical Dramas...who knew?!
8) The very best memories of your life so far were likely small, unplanned and not very glamorous.
Think about it and get back to me but when I look back I know most of the happiest moments in my life were unplanned, accidental and definitely not in high heel shoes.
9) How something ends can affect your whole lasting perception of it.
This is a proven psychological fact and the reason why we can have a long and happy relationship with someone, but if it ends badly, we’ll struggle to remember any of the good in that person. As a rep I saw this in action; often it didn’t matter how spectacular the snow had been, if the return transfer to the airport was terrible or the flight home delayed, we knew we were getting a bad review. Try and say goodbye in a good way if you can and give relationships, friendships, jobs and any thing else a respectful level of closure. It’s far more important than you think and bad endings are a significant contributor to a lot of long-term psychological pain.
10) Don’t be so afraid of the crazy person on the bus.
I have spent a significant portion of my 20s on a Magic Bus, believe me when I say these people are too busy slaying their own demons to even notice you exist. Be Kind. You don’t have to sit next to them, but you do have to respect their struggle and realise people don’t end up like that for no reason.
11) “Disliking popular things doesn’t make you an interesting person.”
This is a quote I found on a sweatshirt posted on Instagram (ha!) and I think it makes a lot of sense. ‘Oh I never ever eat McDonalds and reality t.v. repulses me..’ Yeh yeh whatever, go eat a burger or something…
12) When you’re helping someone, make sure you’re not also offending their autonomy.
'Stop getting your help and goodness all over everybody..’ - Anne Lamott.
When we offer help, we are inadvertedly highlighting that something is wrong. If the person you’re trying to help is yet to accept this, you may end up doing more harm than good. Not everybody is comfortable receiving help and remembering this perspective is essential to ensuring your ‘help’ doesn’t become detrimental to anothers’ self esteem.
13) If you still think about someone a lot who is no longer in your life, it probably means you still have some stuff you need to say.
So say it (if you can), and give yourself a bit of peace.
14) You are not as terrible or unlovable as you think you are.
I am not trying to be cute, make you like me, read more of my stuff, or think i'm ‘really nice’ - honestly if there is something I cannot re-iterate enough its that you are absolutely not the terrible person your brain sometimes says you are.
15) No-one really cares what you do.
I mean this in a nice way (like a liberating way.) People who are not emotionally invested in you will only have any real interest in what you do if it affects them; either by providing them with entertainment, comraderie, or by making them feel less insecure about their own stuff. So do whatever you want, build what you want, wear whatever you want and know most people have pretty short memories for things about you that don’t hurt or enhance their own life in any way.
16) A man in love does not need to like his exes Instagram pictures.
If he’s truly over her and invested in you, she’s now irrelevant. All those men in relationships who are online flirting with other women, I think maybe you’re only kidding yourselves.
17) Being true to yourself is hard work.
If there is one thing I equally love and resent about my therapist training, it was how much conditioning it uncovered; social, societal, familial etc etc. Great because there really is no discernible reason why you can’t be whoever and whatever you want to be, bad because doing your own thing doesn’t always make you very popular. Being unapologetically yourself will sometimes get you rejected, fired, dismissed and mis-judged. I'd say do it anyway - chronic people pleasing will hurt you mentally far more in the long run than a colleague who doesn’t quite get you.
18) Italy is the best country in the world (in my humble opinion...).
If I ever went to Italy and they said I was never allowed to leave, I’d thank them for holding me hostage. Everything about this country and its culture reflects what it means to live a full and happy life (and the food might be really good too...)
19) The biggest struggle of any workplace is the endless battle between the human need to belong and that other human need to win.
Being powerful and getting to feel like you belong don't often go hand in hand. (Rose had more fun down in 3rd class for a reason...?)
20) Trying to live a life without regrets is impossible – and exhausting!
A lot of ‘life advice’ centres around the theme of trying to avoid regret at all costs. Endless phrases of ‘No regrets!’ and "make sure you live a life you won’t regret!" can be seen on every Instagram page of anyone currently travelling the world or trying to validate a reckless life decision. Don’t get me wrong, thinking in terms of what you might regret can be galvanising (I've probably written something like this myself too - oops sorry about that) but it is also pretty impossible to live a whole life where you won’t look back and wonder ‘what if?’ about some things.
In the modern world, we can be faced with a lot of choice on what do to, where to live and even howto live. It’s an enormous pressure to put on yourself to always know what the right decision will be. At the end of my 20s I definitely have a few painful regrets, but I think we all do and living a full life means there always will be. Trying to avoid regret will leave you fearful of making a mistake, paralysed with indecision and exhausted by the anxiety of both. You will absolutely make mistakes and have regrets, embrace them. You’re not a psychic and you are just a silly human being after all..
21) Warmth Always Wins.
Stay warm, stay silly and stay loving. If there is one thing I notice more and more, its how cold, stiff, closed and ego driven some people become as they age. It can appear that in order to be perceived as a competent adult, you have to sacrifice the freedom to be bubbly, warm and in possession of regular human emotion.
In a world where too many people are obsessed with looking and behaving ‘right’, being someone who can bring a bit of heart and humanity to a situation is no bad thing. Even if it feels like you’re embarrassing yourself at the time, you’re probably not. Also, acting imperfectly subconsciously gives other people permission to do the same, cultivates an environment of compassion and is inherently life-enhancing to those around you. In an increasingly perfection-driven world, we probably need a bit more of that. There really is no rule anywhere that says to grow up you have to stop being warm and silly.
22) We tend to obey the most critical, authoritative, demanding or loudest voice in the room – but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one.
Most of us learnt in childhood that if someone raises their voice, talks down to us or gives us an order – we must obey it or we are wrong/bad. Nope. One thing all bullies and master manipulators intuitively know is that human beings respond to the tone of voice and the way something is said, far more than the words themselves. Think about it like this; if someone yelled at you aggressively saying they loved you, the aggressive tone would still ignite fear even if your brain registered they were saying something positive.
23) Playing the long-game doesn’t look very good on social media.
Long-hours of studying, working hard at your job, waiting something out, battling a health problem, building a business, trying to write a book, or saving money – none of these processes are particularly glamorous or ‘instagrammable’. Don’t let this confuse you of their worth.
We live in a share-friendly world, which is great, but I often wonder how aware some people are of how vulnerable they can make themselves through so much unfiltered sharing. This may sound obvious, but to share absolutely everything with anyone who's interested has almost become the default for a lot of people. Privacy is valuable too and knowing what you will and won't share is important for your own sanity, protection and relationships. The same goes for respecting the privacy of others' and remembering that in the workplace you're under no obligation to expose anything personal to an employer you may not be comfortable with them knowing.
25) Stop asking people who have not been where you’re going for directions.
Obvious yet very easy to forget. And don't wait for the grown-ups to get there first either - they might not?!
26) Try to think for yourself.
Truly original thought doesn’t really exist. I mean this blog post is just an amalgamation of my experiences, what I’ve read and heard, and what I’ve seen in other people. Most of it has probably been written by someone else at some other point in time. But thinking for yourself isn’t necessarily about originality, its about analysis. In 10 years’ time I may re-visit this post and howl with laughter at some of the things I’m writing now - but this will only be because I re-evaluated things based on new information. Basically, not thinking for yourself simply involves a lack of analysis which means you're likely to automatically adopt whatever opinion or doctrine is thrown your way. I’ve been called an ‘over-thinker’ more times than I can count on 2 hands but when faced with the alternative of being an ‘under-thinker’ I know which I’d rather be.
27) Liking dogs does not automatically make you a nice person.
And liking cats doesn’t make you evil either. muhahahaha.
28) People are all the same, just dressed differently.
One of the things I am most grateful for in my life is to know how true this is at 29. The failures, messy job changes and heartbreaks may not have always been comfortable experiences, but they all showed me first hand that no matter who you are, where you are from or what you look like, the need to be seen, accepted and to have an impact on the world around us is a thread that joins everyone I have ever met. It's the same drink, just in a million different looking bottles.
29) Not everyone watching your game wants you to win.