On Friday I turned 23 and, since I'm currently older and wiser than I have been at any other point of my life thus far, I thought that now was as good a time as any of share 23 of the life lessons that I have learned over my 23 years on this planet...
1) Don't waste time being unhappy.
This is easier said than done, but normally, where happiness is concerned, there is a choice. There is always a silver lining and always something to smile about. Look for the silver lining and find that thing that will make you smile. Wherever possible, find it. Be happy.
2) Love your own company.
Having always been a needy person I never thought I would be happy on my own, even for a minute. But learning to spend evenings, days, even weeks on your own and not just get through them, but enjoy them; being totally happy alone, is one of the most important lessons.
You have one skin to get you through your life, take care of it. Don't neglect it.
4) Say yes to nearly everything.
Don't be scared, follow your heart and jump right in. Regret is not something you want to have when you get old and if that means sacrificing a night on the sofa to go to a scary party, or on a holiday you can't *really* afford, then do it.
5) It's okay to say no sometimes too.
A little contradictory maybe BUT sticking to your guns and putting your foot down is important too. If something doesn't sit right with you, it's okay to turn it down.
6) Work in a job that you love.
Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life, that's what they say. It's not that easy, it is a risk, but it is important to love what you do. SO important that you don't dread your Monday morning and spend your life doing something that you hate. Don't settle for a job that you don't adore.
7) The worst thing that anyone can do is say no.
Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. At the end of the day, the worst thing that can happen is a person says no. It is just a word, don't be scared of it.
8) Exercise can be fun.
Yes, a few years ago I would not have believe it either, but it can be. It's rewarding, it's empowering and it's so good for you. Both your mind and your body will benefit time and time again. Push yourself and learn to love it.
9) Slow down.
Not everything can be done at break-neck speed, stop from time to time and slow down. Smell the flowers, cancel your plans, walk places, actually see the things around you. Chill.
10) Create a space you love.
If you can't turn your house into an interiors catalogue for a lack of either time or money, then try to fall in love with at least one room. Candles, flowers, art you love. Create a space that is all yours and enjoy it, breathe in it, relax in it.
11) Eat breakfast.
We are told that it is the most important meal of the day by the powers that be and they are right. It's important to set yourself up for the day, it's good for your body and if done right it is delicious. Eat breakfast.
12) Your friends are so important.
Friends are the most important thing in the world. The people who love you will grow with you and, if you will let them, make you into a better person. Never take them for granted and love them with all of your heart.
13) You only get one family.
Your family can drive you up the bloody wall and disappoint you in ways you did not think possible, but through it all they are the ones you have and you don't want to live life with regrets. Love them, treasure them.
14) It is never too late.
To fix something, to try something new or to make something right or change your mind. There is always time, you just need to make it.
15) Don't fear change.
Things change. You never end up where you thought you would and basically nothing ever goes to plan. Don't be afraid of that, learn to roll with it. More often than not, change is really really good, if you can just give it a chance.
16) Wear what you want.
Fashion, and more specifically clothes, are a part of your identity. Don't feel that you shouldn't wear something just because it's not 'flattering', it's different to what your friends are doing or it's too bright, dark or short. Wear what you want and, quite frankly, fuck the haters.
17) Life is too short to hate your body.
Obsessing over your waist size, weight or cellulite is a horrible waste of time. It will always be what is on the inside that counts and, to the people that matter, your weight is irrelevant. In the grand scheme of life, it is just so unimportant, love what you have and embrace your beautiful body.
18) Never give up.
If it's something worth fighting for, then fight for it. Don't let your fear prevent you from chasing your dreams and don't let doubt stop you from having what you want.
19) Fake it 'til you make it.
If you don't think that you can do something then you can at least pretend that you can. It's hard to be confident but much easier to pretend that you are. In life, sometimes that best thing that you can do is fake it.
20) It's okay not to be okay.
No one is okay all the time and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Admitting that you are struggling is not only important and brave, it is critical to a happy life. You can't be alright all the time and there is no shame in that.
21) You're stronger than you think.
When you're going through hell, keep going. You can do this. You might be tired and broken, but you are here and you are strong. So much stronger than you ever thought you would be.
22) Be kind.
Always. Kindness is the most beautiful and important thing. Don't underestimate it or lose sight of it. To strangers, to your friends, and most importantly to yourself, be kind.
23) Love unconditionally.
To be in love is beautiful and to open up and love with all of your heart is brave. Love is what keeps the world going around, it is magical, it is life affirming and without it we would be nothing. No man is an island, nor is any dog, fish or indeed woman. We need people and we can't do it alone, let them in. Love people, trust people, adore people, with all of your heart.