To round of my birthday celebrations and to celebrate the start of my blog I thought I’d do a ’20 things I’ve learned in 20 years’ post! I’ve been through quite the mental health journey in the past 10 years that has taught me a lot about how to manage difficult feelings and my goal for my newly commenced third decade of life is to actually implement these findings into my day-to-day living.
1) Sometimes getting the thing done is better than getting it done perfectly
I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and want everything to be my best work but sometimes that isn’t very time-effective. Sadly in life we don’t always have the luxury of being able to spend hours on something because dreaded deadlines exist (insert angry face). Therefore, sometimes in order to manage our time and stress effectively, we need to just get the thing done! Get words on that page, make sure all the points are covered and that all of the task criteria is included. Then if time allows, you can go back and tweek some bits but if time is pressing it’s better to get it completed (even if it doesn’t meet your usual standards) than to get only 5 % of the task done perfectly.
2) Just because someone accomplishes something before you doesn’t mean you’re “behind in life”
This is a big one for me as I still need to remind myself of it daily. Just because your friend has passed their driving test and you’re still getting round to it or because when you move into your uni halls there are people making Michelin star cuisine while you are just getting to grips with getting your baked beans and toast ready at the same time (that is a knack trust me! I always either have my baked beans burning while my toast is still pale or vice versa) does not mean that you are behind or in anyway less than them. Everyone grows at their own rates and you could become even more of a culinary expert or driver than them in the future! There is no panic about any of these things. Don’t let the pressure of feeling like you have to accomplish all these life skills at once (or at all tbh!) stop you from enjoying yourself. Your worth as a person is unrelated to whether you can do any of these things 🙂 Accomplish them in your own time, when you’re ready, on your terms.
3) A stressed mind leads to a stressed body which leads to an even more stressed mind which leads to an even more stressed body which….and so on
Some of us have the unfortune to have bodies which are very sensitive to stress. My stress usually presents itself as nauseousness, extreme tiredness or ibs-like symptoms, but there are so many other physical symptoms of stress. Nothing is worth getting your body worked up about and it only adds to your stress. However, I understand that it is very difficult to control these symptoms as you can’t just turn them off but I find having this in my mind helps me to keep things in perspective sometimes, as in I’d rather feel well than be stressed-out but be top of my game, because then I’d not be on top of my game physically, and the physical health game is the more important one to win for me personally (hope that makes sense??)
4) The quote by Harriet Beecher Stowe, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn,” is so true!
My anxiety came to a peak during my first year of uni and I really was at rock-bottom in February of last year. Little did I know that I would now be the happiest I’ve ever been and have had the best time in my second year (despite it being cut short by COVID-19). I was really struggling at the time and having very bad thoughts and it makes me so sad to think about the amazing year I could have missed out on if I had have acted on those thoughts or dropped out of university. This quote especially resonates with me because it was literally April 2019 (only a few weeks after I’d been in that really rough spot) that things took a turn for the better! So if you’re feeling very low and feel like giving up, on whatever it is, please try holding on because you never know how close you are to experiencing that wonderful changing tide.
5) Everyone has their struggles, yes even that girl who looks perfect all the time, appears always carefree and gets all A’s!
Growing up, I often looked at people and thought, “Life’s not fair. How come their life can be so together and perfect??!!” But the more people I’ve become acquainted with, the more I discover that there is not a single person who does not or has not had some form of hardship in their life. Like just trust me on this one, you won’t find someone who has not had their share of hard times. Yes some people may sadly get it harder than others but it’s still been hard for them. My Mum once told me a really good saying, “If everyone put all their problems out on the table to share or swap you’d take yours right back.”
6) You need sleep! Sacrificing it regularly to do work is not productive and WILL just catch up with you
I think every student learns this one eventually!
7) There’s nothing a cup of tea can’t solve (or at least help!) – From an avid tea drinker
8) Laughter is necessary
*enjoy a proper ugly photo of me laughing and wearing a turkey hat about to go on a Christmas night out :D*
I learnt this lesson during my last year of A levels. One of my best friends left our school after AS year. We had been in Maths and French class together. I also lost two other friends at my maths table due to them not getting the results they wanted at AS level. This meant that my school days went from being filled with laughter from 9 am to 3:30 pm to a lot less laughter being involved. I also further decreased the available laughter in my final A level year by becoming very caught up in my studies and even going to study at lunch, therefore missing out on chilling at the lunch table with my friends. This resulted in me becoming very serious and just overall down in the dumps tbh. I kept looking for the cause of this low mood and new-found serious personality until this year, living with the world’s best housemates and being settled with my amazing chemistry friendship group, I laughed so hard pretty much daily and finally found my answer 🙂 And I really believe that this increase in laughter has played a big part in lifting my spirits and in helping me to see life in a more positive light (I mean I think medication also played a big part in that but I reckon the increase in laughter added the all important cherry on top! Just dropping in that little disclaimer to say that obviously some things need more than laughter but I’m sure that it helps in many situations). Maybe it is true then that laughter is indeed the best medicine, and I definitely need my daily dose 🙂
9) My Mum’s “six month rule” is definitely worth giving a try (what can I say, Mum knows best xx)
When I was struggling with homesickness during my first year of uni my Mum would remind me of a rule that she has used in her life. I call it The Six Month Rule:
“Whenever you have a big change in your life e.g. moving to somewhere new or starting a new job etc., unless there is something serious making you unhappy there such as bullying or you’re having really bad thoughts or something horrible like that, then try to give the change six months before you decide whether it is right for you.”
I used to ring my parents in tears begging them to let me come home (I don’t even want to know what the others in the flat must have thought when hearing this but thankfully they never let on!) and my Mum would remind me of this rule. At the time I didn’t believe a bit of it and saw myself stuck there panicky and miserable for another 5 months until I could say that I’d given it the 6 months so could I come home now please. But to my surprise it didn’t turn out like that and I am so glad that I chose to stick it out for that bit longer! Big transitions can be very challenging but us humans are very adaptable and I found that by the end of my first year I was finally fully settled and uni had become my second home.
(I hope to write more about tackling homesickness in the future so look out for that!)
10) Everybody works differently, don’t compare!
I struggled with this quite a bit this year living in my student house with 3 other very motivated and hard-working girls. Some days I would have a lazy morning spent scrolling on my phone or ringing my parents and then I would feel really guilty when I’d hear all the work that the others had been doing when we were having our lunch together. But then I’d stay up working later when they were watching TV because I’m definitely a night owl rather than an early bird and find that the evening time is often when I get the most done. So basically what I’m trying to say is, you don’t have to work like somebody else is, work in the way that best suits you! It’s not a one-fits-all unfortunately and you just have to figure out what feels best as you go. And if someone tells you that they’re studying for 10 hours a day and you’re doing half that, it doesn’t mean that they’re getting anymore done than you are. People work at different rates and take different amounts of time to absorb information. So basically put your blinkers on and don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. After all it’s the end result that counts, not how you got there!
11) Your worth is not based on what you accomplish.
Your worth is not dependent on your grades, your weight, your productiveness (honestly hate that word!), not on anything but your heart and how you treat others and make them feel!
12) “This too shall pass”
It most always does 🙂
A good way for teaching yourself this is if you write a list of what’s currently stressing you/getting you down and then look back on it a year down the line (most often you’ll see it much sooner though) and you’ll see that so much, if not all, that was worrying you has passed (maybe it’s been replaced by new worries but hey ho these will pass too) 🙂
13) You don’t need to continuously push yourself and go out of your comfort zone, once in a while when you feel like it is grand!
Personally I think that if I constantly pushed myself out of my comfort zone, my anxiousness would just push me over the edge! Haha 🙂 But doing it every now and again is important for your growth and for living, and the feeling you get when you do it can really lift your self-esteem and increase your confidence.
14) Friendships are important, look after them and invest time in them 🙂
I don’t know what I’d do without my friends, old and new, they help get me through everything and provide those all important laughing fits!
15) Don’t put limits on yourself
I spent the entire summer before starting my university applications debating about whether to apply to study chemistry or not. It wasn’t about whether I wanted to do it or was interested in it as I 100% was, my issue was that I didn’t think I was capable of it and thought that people who choose to do a chemistry degree are a lot brainier than me. But here I am having survived the first year of my Chemistry degree and am close to *touches would 1000 times!!!* surviving my second year.
16) “Doing your best doesn’t mean doing it all”
I used to think that for me to be able to say that I’d done my best for something that meant that I had to work at it non-stop. This not the case and is not at all healthy! Now I know that doing my best means doing what I need to do for it each day but not at the detriment of everything else i.e. eating, sleeping, having a minute to just breathe!
17) Even though we tend to only hear about the dangers of being overweight, there’s just as many dangers of being underweight.
I really think this needs to be factored more into children’s education as I for one certainly had no idea of the consequences of being underweight. Everything’s about balance right! 🙂
18) ONE DAY AT A TIME (…sweet Jesus)
Anyone know that song? My Mum introduced me to it and it’s quite an oldie but a goodie! “One day at a time” has become a bit of a life mantra for me.
Here’s the song if you want to check it out haha One Day at a Time.
19) Just as everyone has different ways of working, everyone has different ways of relaxing too
For me relaxing means having a long shower listening to my favourite playlists, hiking with my family or watching some good films/TV. But for others it may mean yoga, meditation, reading, baking etc etc. Again it’s not a one-fits-all thing and you have to just experiment with different ways and find what is most effective for you.
20) In the words of Miranda Hart, “Life can be fun”
It really can 🙂
Which lesson do you think is the most important? Has life taught you any other lessons that I haven’t mentioned? Do share! 🙂