5 Things I Would Tell Myself at 21
As I rapidly approach the end of my twenties </3 I honestly feel more lost sometimes than ever. It’s something that's only just starting to get talked about with any attention in recent years (along with other ‘groundbreaking’ topics such as depression and the negative effects of modern life on us mere mortals *face palm*). With the dreaded doom of your 30’s looming over you, the nostalgia of your rapidly fading youth begins to kick in, then before you know it you're at a rave in Shoreditch downing Jägerbombs and two stepping to old garage beats and overhearing people dropping phrases like ‘this is the soundtrack to my youth man’ questioning what exactly you are doing with your life. It’s only really when you turn 25 that your mind clicks into action and reality sort of semi kicks in. It’s like basically the half way point to giving a fuck and freaking out about the state of your so called life. Granted, this can’t be said for everyone. I do have some annoyingly ‘sorted’ friends, some of whom are even more annoyingly younger than 25…and some seriously unsorted ones nearly twice my age...but that being said, the majority of us (them all included) will have a freak out of some degree around this time in our lives. It’s probably not helped by the fact that everyone around you (perhaps minus your parents…if you’re as ‘lucky’ as me) seems to keep reminding you ‘oh you’re still so young’, ‘Oh please, you’re such a baby’ right up until the cold turning point at around 25 where you are so brutally stripped of your age pass without warning. Then BANG; It’s all are you in a relationship? Are you ever getting married? Do you think you want children? So what is your ideal career? Your Facebook feed slowly turns from random outbursts, inspiring memes, new songs and petty disagreements into a torture device blasting you with new relationship notifications (self validate much, like have you considered a job in advertising...i'll stop), marriages (seriously?), engagements (double seriously?!), ‘friends’ travel photos (just go f*** yourself!), new homes (we’re not happy for you), and so god damn many baby/children photos (as adorable as some may be…damn you maternal instincts!!!). You are officially only years away from hosting dinner parties for your friends and talking about moving to the countryside, you might as well just accept it. Wine helps. So with all this in mind, I got to thinking...what would I tell my 21 year old self…you know…if I had a time machine…and could go back and talk with myself…without destroying the space-time continuum…or whatever.
1. You don’t owe anyone anything, and nobody owes you anything either
I have honestly battled with both aspects of this a lot, and all I can say is that the notion of not giving to receive should be applied to all areas of your life, both ways. Now that doesn’t mean you have to go around being an ungrateful little ****! What I mean is that you must be genuine in your work, with people, in your life generally. We should feel things organically and really want to do them, and enjoy doing them, life is too short to pretend. Naturally, we should also want to show appreciation and reciprocate kind behaviour. It’s really that simple, if you really think about it, or should I say if you let it be. When all else fails you, and/or you decide you hate humans, get a dog.
2. The trouble is you think you have time… - Common Buddha misquote (Actually taken from Jack Kornfields 1994 interpretation of his teachings….but anyway)
This is one of my personal favourite quotes, and I don’t think it should invoke any feelings of anxiety or fear. Yet in me it did used to do exactly that. In all honesty, it took me years to see the beauty in this quote and learn to fully appreciate it for what it now means to me. Now when I see this it reminds me how wonderful life is, how fragile and short it is, how we must fill our days as much as we can with the things and the people we love, it is our duty. Time is truly the most precious thing anyone can ever have or give, it is completely free, and completely un-refundable. Even if you must for work (let’s not get started on that), never fall into the trap of measuring your time by money in your soul.
3. Never spend too long in your comfort zone
Spend some time there, by all means. Relax, recover, make your parents look after you for a while (boss move). Whatever makes you happy is good. But always be a yes person (except when asked to jump off buildings, then be a firm no person, NO). One of the best things you can allow yourself to learn early on, is that there are certain things that you have to go and learn for yourself. Learning everything through others is passive living. Go experience life for YOU, fuck up, get dirty, get poor, get whatever it takes. (*1) Life is a journey NOT a destination (never let ‘them’ tell you otherwise, you know who ‘them’ are! Neverrrrrrr!This might be a good point to mention the profound influence upon my life made by a certain french pigeon in An American Tail…look it up...I have no shame). Frankly, the only destination we will all definitely share in life is death, so go and make sure you live first. It’s true what they say *cue. violins & french accent*, in the end we only regret the chances we didn't take, the person we never kissed, the places we never saw, the words we never said. All these things we do will be the reasons we smile. They are your journey. Cherish them. These moments. Ok, I’ll stop throwing out inspirational memes at you now…I swear…yeah…I would probably slap me around this point.
4. Stop over-planning, stop overthinking and just do it!
Like seriously, just stop it! Start that business, go travelling; every.single.chance.you.get, love like you were never hurt (yes, even after ‘him/her’), make mistakes, ignore every no and keep searching for that one yes, get rejected, just keep chasing your dreams and always seek out the things, people and places that make you happy. No matter how many times you fail (it happens) it is about getting back up (refer back to previous paragraph, *1). You could spend a month planning, deciding, thinking what to do next, OK this is granted. Or (stay with me here), you could just make that list and do anything on it, in any order, I dare you. Chances are once you have done just 1 thing on your 100 strong list everything else will start to change anyway (trust me on this one).
5. Remain both a teacher and a student in your life. Always.
Never stop asking questions, never stop sharing your answers.
Oh hindsight, you funny little thing! If you were a person I probably would have planned your murder...multiple times...and poisoned you by now for always being late. So tell me, if you could go back in time (ignoring the very obvious technical issues with this proposal) what would YOU tell yourself at 21?
© 2016 Kat Liberty