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26 lessons I’ve learned in 26 years.

from egg poaching to bills, bills, bills

26th birthday things ive learned

It was my birthday this week, and with any marked milestone on mortality, I got a bit reflective on life and about what I have and haven’t figured out yet. Predictably the latter of the two was a list 50 miles long, but I realised I had picked up a decent amount of lessons (or advice? tips??? I don’t know, life stuff, we’ll go with that) during the 26 years I’ve been rocking around on this earth.

1 / That quarter life crisis you get warned about when turning 25….. yeah that definitely happens. But once you’ve waded through hours of self-torture, bought a snazzy car, quit two jobs and stopped anxiously comparing your life accomplishment yard-stick to other 25 year-olds or younger, something shifts. You start caring less about how far everyone else has got (higher paying jobs, not living with parents, having a pet / garden / baby / something to love etc.) and crack on to where YOU want to be.

2 / Making your bed gives the impression that your messy room is actually tidier than it is.

3 / You don’t have to wait for someone else to buy you expensive jewellery. You love it, you buy it. 

26 life lessons for 26 year olds

4 / How to poach an egg with zero fuss – a) Boil kettle. b) Pour the boiled water into a shallow frying pan c) turn heat up on the hob. d) When pan is simmering, slowly and gently crack your egg into the water. Use a large spoon to softly guide back any floaty-away bits. e) Six or seven minutes later (when you think it looks done enough) scoop your egg out and plop onto a hot buttered crumpet. f) Do the knife thing with the yolk. g) Have your ‘ahhh’ moment.

5 / Saying ‘no’ holds a lot of power. As a natural people pleaser, I’m probably only on a mediocre to poor level getting to grips with saying no more often. No I can’t take on more work this week, no I don’t want to go out, no you’re wrong and here’s why.. It kind of goes without saying that you shouldn’t be a dick when saying ‘no’ to people but you shouldn’t feel guilty about it either. People do you look at you with respect when you tactfully hold your ground with grace.

6 / Hendricks Gin can only be served with thin slices of cucumber and ice. (*waves the flag for middle-classians everywhere*)

7 / Introducing yourself to people is such a minor interaction but creates a huge impact on your wider reputation. Of course it’s daunting going up to someone and say ‘Hi I’m  ’ but it puts you in such a good light in social set ups, to a new work colleague and random girls crying in nightclub loos. Tip: After you’ve done your opening bit, have something else to say. Otherwise you’ll panic and frantically blabber something stupid in an attempt to diffuse the silent awkward atmosphere…..‘So, um.. I secretly borrow my neighbour’s cat when she’s at out..’

Life lessons at 26 years old

8 / Packed lunches for work are the best, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Who doesn’t like saving money every day for sparkly shoes and a steady flow of Domino’s pizza? Crazy people, that’s who.

9 / Don’t settle in life. It’s the cop out option and the killer of youth (I don’t actually know about the youth part. Just made it up, but it sounds like it could be right). It’s so easy to coast and ignore scratching thoughts of ‘I want more than this’. That if you feel like you’re in an OK paying job, with an OK boyfriend, living an OK life that is actually slowly suffocating you, then you need to do something about it. OK?

10 / He’s just not that into you, so stop making excuses for flaky behaviour and put that boy in the bin.

26 lessons at 26

11 / With the world balancing uncertainly on a knife edge right now, there’s no such thing as preparing too early enough when it comes to looking after your 90-something self. Lets face it, our generation will be working for much longer than our parents, get less of a pension payout from the state and most likely be paying for a private health service. Now’s the time to be building a safety net, whether a work place pension, a tiny personal investment or a pretty piggy-bank. Even if it’s a pittance, treat future you as a bill to pay every month.

12 / In a pinch, lipstick works as a cream-type blusher and eye shadow. Mascara can be used as eye liner too if you have a light touch and surgeon-steady hands.

13 / Liking ‘boring’ things such as going to bed early, staying in on a Saturday night, discussing the merits of wood vs carpet flooring and listening to Desert Island Discs is not shameful. – These are mine but this point is applicable to your own glorious old lady habits

14 / Along the same vein as the lesson above, it’s also perfectly acceptable to mix your ‘boring grown up’ likes with guilty pleasures. Trashy TV, Buzzfeed quizzes, cat videos, chick-lit books and the Eurovision song contest.

15 / The art of utilising your time wisely,which is kind of a no brainer as even iddy-biddy kids are aware if you don’t do anything you won’t accomplish anything. But its something that I am consistently working on. Little things that help me utilise time is making catch up phone calls when I’m driving in the car (via hands-free, obvs) , replying to messages while waiting for my slow and antiquated laptop to start up or scanning Twitter in the for the day’s news stories as the kettle is boiling for my early morning cuppa.

16 / Keeping a calendar on your phone for all your glamorous engagements relieves a little bit of the stressy pressure from all the stuff you need to remember on a day-to-day basis.

17 / Always have a holiday and / or a block of time out planned to look forward too. Take a break once in a while because you work hard. Plus being a martyr to life gets you nowhere and drains your productively juice…. And gives you wrinkles. Maybe.

18 / Pretending in your head that you’re starring in your own music video when certain songs come on is something EVERYBODY does.

26 life lessons for turning 26

19 / Being single doesn’t mean you have to be on the hunt for your next victim boyfriend. If being on your own is thrilling and fulfilling then crack on. But be prepared for sympathy sighs from well-meaning friends and family who are ‘sure a pretty girl like you will find someone soon.’

20 / In your early twenties you start to notice that you can’t keep up the pace of shovelling in the volume crappy food as you once did when you were a teenager (KitKat sandwiches and McDonald’s erryday anyone?!) and still fit into your skinnies. Well, welcome to your mid twenties where the slowing of your metabolism steps down a notch again! Brilliant.

21 / There are very few things in life that can’t be fixed. This is my mum’s motto, a woman who keeps picking herself back up time after time life throws a punch her way or if a seemingly impossible challenge presents itself. There’s always a work around stuff, another option to consider or a different route to take. Put on your big girl pants when you’re feeling defeated and repeat to yourself, it’s not over until it’s over.

22 / ‘Ohh, are you shyyy?’ If there ever was a sentence to make quiet people everywhere flare up on the inside it’s that. Despite the impression that the not-so-loud give off, shy we are not. The last year and a bit I realised the difference between shy and quiet as the opening question was flung my way more times than I can possibly count, particularly around new acquaintances. I’m more than comfortable to talk about any topic under the sun, but only when I feel I have something of value to say. I started to question this default conclusion of quiet people. If you’re not rushing over everyone else to speak does that make someone shy? Umm, nope. We observe, we think and then we open our mouths.

23 / I’m massively inspired by a bunch of crazily creative, intelligent and articulate women (Dolly Alderton, Pandora Sykes, Laura Bates, Emma Gannon and Dallas Shaw, off the top of my head). A common theme each of these women (can I call them badass babes or is that one fangirling step too far???) talk about when discussing work and their passions is that very rarely in life you are handed your dream opportunity to shine. Shit like that needs to be created by you through exploring ideas, hard work and sheer bloody mindedness. Put simply, you will only achieve by doing. You want to act? Go act. You want to travel? Go travel. You want to write? Go write. And if everything doesn’t fall into place after busting your butt for years, then at least you can be satisfied that you gave it a fucking good try. Which is always better than not trying at all. Credit / complain to them for my forcing this sometimes updated blog onto you.

I really recommend listening to Dolly and Pandora’s weekly podcast though, highlight of my commute!

24 / Jeans, heels and a nice top is the best outfit formula that can be transferable for any occasion. I.E. A date with the rugby laaad you met on Bumble, drinks in a sticky-floored pub with your mates, dinner at an Italian chain restaurant with your mum or for a casual Sunday stroll around Tesco’s if you’re feeling fancy.

25 / Accept help, advice, clothes, money and support from those around you if it’s offered during low periods in your life. They love you and are there to be leaned on when things get tough. Don’t ever think that you’re problems would be too much of a burden to share with someone who cares. After all, nobody is an island 😎🏝️

26 / Carry a notebook at all times. Something that I’ve learned over writing this post actually. I had 3457 million more of these life blurbs, 98% of them were probably better than what’s listed but because I didn’t write them down my brain has permanently cleared out my thought cache. Scribble down your idea-diarrhoea… even if it is shit.

I welcome any other valuable pearls of wisdom or suggestions on how best to change a car tyre without getting muck on your jumper in the comments section below.

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