20 Things I’ve Learned* In 20 Years


Part One
It’s been almost 4 months since I turned 20. Now that I’m finally no longer a teenager and have officially begun a new decade of my life, it’s caused me to reflect on experiences and what they’ve taught me up to this point. So here are some of the things I’ve learned (*or am in the process of learning) about life and myself so far:

I’m a dresses girl, not a jeans girl
For years, I thought I was the jeans-and-tee type. I think I was in denial. It’s not that I hate them as a style of clothing, it’s more that being 5ft 1 and oddly proportioned, jeans always fit quite weirdly on me. They’re always too long and too tight or too loose, or even worse, they’re tight on my waist and loose on my legs (damn you, pot belly!). Recently, I’ve decided to embrace my cuteness – I’m buying more dresses, and now I doubt I could ever feel as comfortable and attractive in a pair of jeans.

Wearing make-up doesn’t have to mean flaunting low self-esteem
From the ages of 16-18, I seldom wore any make-up. I had this misplaced notion that for most people, make-up was just a way of flaunting their insecurities through attempting to hide them. Although I doubt I’ll ever be a make-up fanatic, since turning 20 I’ve been getting quite into make-up and now I wear it almost daily. So long as you’re not dependent on it, make-up can be a great little confidence boost and a useful way of expressing yourself. I’ll always be a fan of a more natural look (most days it’s just a bit of concealer, mascara, brow pencil and lippie) but a little goes a long way.

There will always be people who dislike you
…and there will always be people you dislike. Modern society dictates that we should care significantly about what other people think, so when someone isn’t our biggest fan, it’s often made into a bigger deal than it needs to be. Though nobody would admit it, I think the word ‘haters’ is throw around so much nowadays because of how much we take it to heart when we’re not liked. But it’s normal. Not everyone has to get along. Don’t bother trying to please everyone, it’s futile. Just be happy that there will always be people who do like you and will have your back.

Money IS an object
There are some people who are good with money and some who are, shall we say, not so good. I’m undoubtedly the latter. One day when I’m filthy rich (i.e. when fish can walk), money will be no object, but for now, I’m learning that I reeeeally can’t afford to waste it.

Sometimes it’s better to not get your hopes up too high
This one’s a bit of a sad lesson to learn, but it’s an important one nonetheless. People are notoriously unreliable and things don’t always work out the way you wanted them to. Unfortunately, there are times when you should try to keep your hopes in check, especially if you’re someone who’s quite affected by disappointment.

Dogs are awesome
Used to be terrified of dogs growing up, hated them. But I had absolutely no basis for my hatred, and now I wonder how I could anyone could ever hate such affectionate, wonderful animals. Who knows? I might even be a dog person instead of a cat person.

Reinforcement creates belief
Otherwise known as ‘fake it ’til you make it’. Words are powerful. If someone was to be verbally berated every day, for instance, constantly being told that they’re lazy and stupid, they’ll begin to believe it. Similarly, if someone was to be praised and sycophantically complimented every day, they’ll begin to believe what they’re told (and might also become a narcissistic arse). Thoughts work in the exact same way. If you’re always thinking negative things about yourself, eventually it will affect the way you view yourself (a main factor in how people develop depression), and vice versa. Subsequently, I’ve been trying to repeat positive self-affirmations; even if they feel forced and I don’t believe them right now, one day I’m hoping I will.

Don’t bleach your hair
Just don’t. Just… don’t. Unless you want it to thin, lose texture and fall out in clumps, in which case, go for it!

Make up your own mind about somebody 
For a very long time, I was the type of person who would take to heart the things that others had (allegedly) done to those I cared about. If a friend told me a certain person had done a certain bad thing, I would detest that person, despite having never met them. Contrary to popular belief, taking on other people’s burdens and grievances as well as your own isn’t a good way to be. It’s unfair for people to ask you to hate somebody off the bat just because they do. I’ve learnt from a lot of experience that it can affect you more than you realize. It’s better to always view people more or less as a blank sheet of paper, and come to your own conclusions about who they are and what they’re like. 

Comparing yourself to others accomplishes nothing
…nothing good, anyway. Out of all of these life lessons, this is the one which I’m still in the early stages of learning; I still struggle massively with comparison. Theodore Roosevelt famously said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ And it’s true, the only thing that has ever come out of comparing myself to other people is the feeling of inadequacy. It’s just another unnecessary, pointless means of self-criticism. The only person you should compare yourself to is yourself – that’s the only real way to flourish and grow.