Turning 25: Lessons I've learned

Turning 25 - lessons I've learnedThis month I'll turn 25. Half way to 50. Quarter-life crisis age. Although I think I had my quarter life crisis at 23, when I quickly realised that a career in Social Work was not for me, panicked about my fertility and stressed out over finances. 

When you're young, you learn a lot about yourself and the world around you very quickly in a relatively short space of time. Here are some of the life lessons I've learned over time:

You'll never know it all, at any age.

At 16, I was convinced I knew it all had a life long plan in place that I would follow. I then reached 18 and realised that I didn't have a clue and that I was still just a kid at 16. Perhaps I knew it all by now? Nope, I got to 22 and thought the exact same thing about my 18 year old self: not a fluffing clue - so much to learn, I'm surely much more mature now and ready for adult life. Then I survived working as a social worker for a further 2 years and realised that life is so full of different and unexpected challenges from all kinds of different directions that it is impossible to ever 'know it all' or follow a plan. 

By 24 I finally stopped thinking that I'll ever have life figured out and just accepted that I'll always be learning, always challenged. I'm sure when I turn 30 and my son is school age, I'll look back at 25 year old me and think "what an idiot". I'm ok with that. It means I'll have gone through some more 'personal growth'. 

Life isn't about pleasing other people.

life isn't about pleasing other people
It's about being true to yourself and what you want. Not what someone's second cousin twice removed thinks you should be doing. You don't have to do the same things in the same way as others or just because it's expected of you.  You're a grown ass adult in charge of your own life, live it the way you want to. 

It took being a guest at two weddings, my own three year engagement and having a baby for me to finally realise this! Applying this lesson to wedding planning, I realised that I don't actually like being in the limelight and I couldn't give a toss about table plans, matching dresses, family drama, drunken guests, menus that would please picky eaters or table centre pieces. Instead, what I really cared about was the marriage afterwards and taking lots of photos of our new little family all dressed up. Oh, and wedding cake of course! 

Fortunately we still had time to cancel our original "big fancy expensive wedding" and rearrange a low key, no fuss, romantic wedding that is just for us. We've saved a ton of money, time, stress and family drama in the process! And we have enough money put aside to take a holiday with our son and for me to stay on maternity leave for longer to watch him grow. These are the things that please me, not all that other 'traditional wedding' stuff. 

What other people think of you is their business 

What goes on in someone else's mind affects my life in no way. Life is far more satisfying when you give your precious time to those who show you kindness and respect and remain true to you even when your back is turned. There isn't enough time to waste on people you just don't 'click' with and its a waste of time trying to make people like you. Avoid engaging in arguments, stay away from those who thrive on gossiping and keep negative people at a safe distance from your personal life.

Everyone needs a few 'happy places' they can go to. 

Happy places give you somewhere to go when you need to just get away from it all, recharge your batteries or spark creativity. I have the gym, local park, our back garden in the summer, our sofa in front of the TV or Xbox in the winter, Ragdale Hall and Cala'n Bosch in Menorca. I'm at my calmest and happiest in all of these places. Some of these places I can just dash off to when I like and others require booking (and money!), which gives me something to look forward to. 

While I adore being a mum, it's important for me to hold onto my own identity.

Although looking after my son, dashing off to various baby groups and playing with him make up most of my day while he's young, I'm conscious that these days wont last forever and one day, my son will be an independent adult himself. It will come around quickly and even as a teenager I'm certain he will want to go about his day without me interfering 24/7. 

For this reason I always keep a small amount of time aside each week (usually while my son has a nap!) to do the things I did BC (before child). I do this so that I don't forget who I was before and who I will be again. This includes running a small business, launching new projects, going out for meals and going to the gym. I think this approach also makes me appreciate every milestone and stage in my son's life as I know these years will fly by. 

If you have good health, somewhere safe to live and people who love you, you have everything.

If you have good health, somewhere safe to live and people who love you, you have everything
As you may have gathered from my change of wedding plans, I'm not a materialistic person. Once you have the basics to live a safe and healthy life, everything else is optional. I'd say it was working as a social worker that made me feel this way about life.

I used to be a workaholic (some would say I'm still one when it comes to running my own business) but actually, as long as I've made enough money to pay the bills and live comfortably, I don't see the point in aspiring to become a millionaire and working all hours around the clock! I'm very happy with aspiring to have an ordinary life, with time to spend with my family and look after my health, filled with positive relationships, love and laughter. 

There's always time to change career. 

Your education doesn't have to define what you do for the rest of your life! Not even postgraduate qualifications. Or even having no qualifications! 

I've worked in retail, education, social work, administration and now journalism. I might dabble in marketing or the fitness industry when I return to the work place after maternity but for now I quite like writing and running a small business. The skills and personal qualities I've acquired in all these different areas (patience, compassion, professionalism, time management) transfer well to careers and make CVs and interviews far easier too. 

Besides, who want to stay in a career that makes them miserable?

Bad habits can be changed 

Whether it's drinking too much alcohol, not exercising enough or eating too much junk food, it's important to really think about the underlying cause (boredom, stress, anxiety) and address these issues differently. 

Financial planning is not boring 

Neither are things like wills or life insurance. This stuff is important. You're never too young to have a retirement plan, and it's important to protect your spouse and any dependants you may have should anything happen to you. It's not jinxing it, or looking on the dark side of life, it's being a responsible adult. 

Bonus points for understanding interest rates, shopping around for the right savings account, knowing how to buy/sell stocks and shares and for checking your credit report annually. None of this will seem boring when you reap the benefits of a good pension, your shares make a profit or your high interest bond matures. 

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