I turned 26 just over a month ago, which is when I started writing this. I’ve always imagined that I had this infinite, Dumbledore-esqe wisdom ready to spill over onto a page if I gave it half the chance! Well, the day after I turned 26 I decided to give it that chance. When I finally sat to write the white paper just glared at me. Nothing came. For some reason at the moment of finally getting to write my pent-up wisdom, my ability to articulate anything simply vanished! So here I am, a month later, with a list of things that I’ve learned in upon reaching 26. I kept a running list going throughout the past month with my only task being to get at least one down every single day.
Without further rambling, introductions, here’s what the past 26 years have taught me:
1. I am not responsible for making anybody else happy. Each person is in charge of their own happiness; just as only I am in charge of my own. All that I really need to remember is to be kind, to listen and to support where I can.
2. Karma exists, but not necessarily in the spiritual sense. You get back what you put into the world, for good or for bad. This isn’t because of any deity or cosmic retribution, but rather because each word or action you put out into the world puts something in motion, no matter how small. It can kick start a perception, a basis for belief, an emotion, or even a physical action. Even if you can’t see the result for yourself, what you do or say matters in some way.
3. Lasting love cannot exist without trust or vulnerability. For love to last in the long-term, you have to be able to trust yourself enough to show that vulnerable side of yourself; the one that isn’t always strong, powerful, successful or even that kind. You also have to be able to trust your partner with your vulnerability. If you can’t even sometimes show your true vulnerability around someone who is supposed to be so important in your life, then you will always be hiding from them, and so doing, be hiding from yourself.
4. A nasty comment thrown at you is never usually even about you; no matter how much it may seem like it. The person throwing that nasty comment your way is, almost always, trying to ensure that they themselves won’t be criticised. They’re attempting to shift that negative focus onto you rather than potentially suffer it themselves. It is never right, they shouldn’t be doing it and you do not deserve it. But maybe in knowing this, it will help you to let it go and continue to walk without bitterness.
5. Natural, curly hair rocks! For all of the negative comments I got as a kid, there were those who were right: curly and natural hair is gorgeous!
6. Foundation shades NEVER perfectly match anybody’s skin. That I know of.
7. People only change if they truly want to, and no matter what I say or do, I cannot make anybody change. The only person I can change, or even have the right to change, is myself.
8. Even though it never became a career, taking Drama for GCSE and A Level was one of the best decisions I could have ever made for my future, creative self.
9. Trying to be anything other than who I really am, has always been the most exhausting thing I’ve ever tried to do! It saps the life out of you because you’re trying to borrow someone else’s energy; the energy of a person who doesn’t even exist – with no actual source for that energy, the energy isn’t real, or sustainable. Be yourself!
10. Exercise matters! Your mind, body, and spirit all need the stimulation and release that physical exercise can bring. At any rate, it helps me to get rid of any excess energy that could build into an anxiety attack later – and I certainly don’t need that shit!
11. If I want something to change or if I want something to happen, I have to be the driving force behind it. Just because I want something, that doesn’t mean anyone else is going to work on it for me. They can only help me along the way as I make that change for myself. And the excuses for not doing it will run out quicker than you think.
12. Inspiration breeds inspiration – read about or listen to other inspirational people talk about their creativity and their journey. Their likeness to you will unlock something in your mind and help you to access what makes you tick creatively.
13. Set yourself up for success by making things as easy as possible. The more you overcomplicate, the more likely you are to be overwhelmed by your goals.
14. Remember that your own integrity isn’t “snootiness” or “deliberate awkwardness”; it’s you, setting your own personal policies and following it while it feels right and relevant to you.
15. Labels aren’t everything. People can’t be put into boxes – but finding out more about a key element of your personality or tastes can be life changing. In that sense, a label or a category can be a starting point to unlocking more self-awareness. But you are not defined by any of it; merely enlightened and more aware of what makes you tick and function in the world.
16. The makeup that you see in Instagram is undeniable proof that art is for everyone. A paintbrush or pencil to paper isn’t the only way to explore art. Don’t ever mock someone for the canvas that they choose to express themselves with; even if it’s not what you would choose. #InstaglamIsBeautiful
17. SFX can never hide a poorly written or edited plot. Yes, I’m looking at you Batman vs Superman…
18. Books, films, music and even games can save lives. I certainly don’t know if my soul would be intact if it weren’t for the Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings books and films.
19. I don’t talk while I sleep, but sometimes I giggle – and then wake myself up!
20. You don’t to like just one type of music, films, clothes etc. People are mixed bags! Even those who claim to like only death metal will have a pop song or two that they can “tolerate” to listen to.
21. No one EVER deserves sexual, emotional or physical abuse. No matter what they wear or how sensitive they are – they have NOT brought it upon themselves.
22. It’s ok to try out a few things to figure out what truly makes you tick, and then to change your mind again if it’s not quite right for you. Life is too short to be wasting time on things that don’t really make you happy, especially when there is so much else out there to discover. It’s not “constantly quitting” or “giving up all the time”. It’s called “following your curiosities”. It’s finding out your passions, as well as your limits, through action and reflection. And there is no shame in wanting to constantly follow curiosities rather than stick with one thing forever.
23. David Wenham (the guy who acted as Faramir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy) has one of the sexiest, most calming voices! Whether it’s with his natural Aussie accent or his movie English accent, I melt… #CallMe
24. People frequently forget that they are liked or loved by those around them. Even if you spend a lot of good, fun, happy times together, reminding someone that you really cherish them can help them to face the world. Life is too short to not tell people just how much they really mean to you.
25. If the idea of something makes you fearful or nervous, it’s a sign that you’re onto something huge and that you should just go for it. It could change your life.
26. It’s not “being realistic” if it only focuses on the negative. There is always something positive to look for. There is always a reason to try.
What have you learned over the years? Any extra tips for living a mindful, guilt-free life? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to like, follow and share! See you soon!