I remember when the year 2000 happened. I know, I’m old, eff off. I was in the WORST mood because, even though it was a new millennium full of promise and excitement (and the crippling fear that computers would destroy us all), I felt totally unprepared for a new MILLENIUM. What was I going to achieve? How could I become the best version of myself? What was my purpose in life? Deep thoughts for a nine year old, but whatever. When we entered 2010 I don’t remember being nearly so dramatic, but then again I was probably drunk.
We have now entered another decade. The planet is fucked, Tik Tok is a thing and despite my protestations, Brexit is still going ahead. This new decade has significance for me because I’m also about to enter my Thirties, which means absolutely nothing, I’m still going to wear stupid tshirts and eat ice cream straight out of the container. Naked. On a Monday afternoon.
Before I take that terrifying leap, however, it’s time to reflect on the past ten years and everything I learned about being a human being. *SENTIMENTAL POST ALERT* I promise I’ll go back to complaining and trying to be funny about travel, relationships, people, life, etc. I also plan to make this a bilingual blog in the near future and post articles in both Spanish and English. Si tenais algun problema con eso, hay Google Translate.
1. ADULTS ARE JUST LARGE CHILDREN WITH ACCESS TO ALCOHOL
Ten years ago I was the Urban Dictionary definition of hot mess. Disorganised, messy, struggling with my self-esteem, not dissimilar to most people in that phase of their lives. I assumed that once I reached at least 25 I would have everything together in all aspects of my life. HA HA HA. When I hit 25 I realised that everyone, regardless of age, is kind of a mess. We’re all still scared little kids and most of us haven’t learned how to treat our inner babies, rendering us not much better than the disasters we were at 20.
The lesson I learned from this realisation is = we’re all basically the same in that we never feel like we’re quite doing enough, so relax. Everything comes in its own time and we continue to learn and grow.
2. EVERYONE IS GOING THROUGH SOMETHING
I used to think I had a monopoly on suffering whenever the smallest thing went wrong in my life. As a white, partially straight (or definitely passing), cis, straight-sized woman who grew up in a peaceful, economically stable country, I realise the HUGE irony and insensitivity in this. Of course, pain and suffering is all relative, but in the last decade I’ve learnt to be significantly less selfish. Everyone is going through something and everyone has their own pain.
Lesson learned= be kind.
3. PUT YOURSELF FIRST
This is not the same as being a selfish wanker, which 20 year old me definitely was. I’ve realised in the past few years that I put so much time and energy into places, people and situations where I was not appreciated and was left drained. I’ve learned how to set boundaries, to say no (sometimes to say EFF OFF) and to put my needs first in these situations. It’s not being selfish, it’s necessary for survival.
Lesson learned=you are your number one
4. SPEAKING OF WHICH, BEING ALONE IS A VERY GOOD THING
Ten years ago I couldn’t stand to be alone and struggled with my own company because I didn’t much like myself. ALMOST 30 year old me likes herself a lot more and although it can be a struggle radically loving and accepting herself some days, she now enjoys her alone time (mostly) and realises how important her relationship with herself is.
Lesson learned=you are not just your number one, you are also your own boyfriend/girlfriend/life partner. Handle with care.
5. DO SOMETHING YOU ABSOLUTELY LOVE OR YOU’RE WASTING YOUR TIME
I quit a very comfortable and moderately challenging (but very stressful) job in a great company (with an even greater salary) to move abroad and make hardly any money working multiple jobs, none of which have a huge amount of security. I’m making less than half of what I used to when I lived and worked in London. But I’m happier than I ever was in that environment. It really is a case of ‘live the life you love’, even if it means being less comfortable, taking a significant pay cut, or compromising. Why waste any of your time doing something that doesn’t make you excited to be alive?
Lesson learned=take the risk and do what you love. Also, there is no age limit on this.
6. LIFE IS ACTUALLY PRETTY EFFING DIFFICULT
It wasn’t until I actually started to address my mental health issues in my mid 20s that I realised how lucky I have been in my life. Everything has been pretty easy for me – I’m smart, able-bodied, very attractive on good days (moderately attractive on bad days). I’ve worked hard for the things I have, but it wasn’t until I got ill six years ago that I had to really, REALLY work at something. Once I had to really, consciously take care of myself for the good of my health, I realised how difficult life can be for so many people. Things aren’t perfect all the time, far from it, and to be able to accept that is a real strength.
Lesson learned=life is sometimes shit but it gets not shit again if you work hard to accept things as they are.
7. KNOWING YOURSELF IS IMPORTANT
It’s taken this decade to realise that the reason I catastrophise is because I suffer with anxiety, not because I’m a ‘drama queen’. The reason I feel things so strongly, including the feelings of others and atmospheres of different places is because I’m an empath, not because I’m ‘overly sensitive’. The reason I sometimes had weird vibes towards certain women in my life was because I was attracted to them, not because I was a ‘weirdo’. The reason I had A LOT of casual dalliances in my student days and struggled in relationships was because I was non-monogamous, not because I was a broken woman with daddy issues (direct quote from a boy I briefly dated in late 2016. Benji if you’re reading this, eat a dick). For the record, my relationship with my father is stellar. Anyway, I really got to know myself this decade and I’m so happy I did because if I hadn’t, I would still be repeating the same patterns.
Lesson learned=it’s important to get to know yourself.
8. SOCIETY IS SOMETIMES WRONG
I used to think something was wrong with me if I didn’t want the things everyone around me had, or if I rejected something the world had taught me to want. But it’s important to remember that what you’re taught isn’t always what’s right. You’re basically damned if you do/don’t so you may as well do the things that you want to and eff what everyone else thinks. Just because the majority of people are choosing something, it doesn’t mean you have to if it feels wrong. It also doesn’t mean, however, you should judge that majority for their choices.
Lesson learned=there’s no one right way to live.
9. MONEY IS IMPORTANT BUT IT REALLY ISN’T EVERYTHING
Although I do fear for the future because right now I don’t have a pension plan, I will never pay off my student loans and I spend too much money on cheese, it’s important to remember that money is temporary and you can always make more. I’m not suggesting a cavalier attitude to finances is the way forward, I’m merely stating that money and saving for the future isn’t everything. What’s the good of saving religiously if you never get the chance to enjoy it? The last time I checked, when you’re dead, you can’t use it.
Lesson learned=I’m still shit with money but now I place less stress on whether I have invested enough in bla bla bla nobody cares, this one is boring.
10. WE DON’T HAVE LONG
If you’re reading this, you are a winning sperm who gets to spend 70 or 80 (or hopefully more) years experiencing all this planet has to offer. Although we have plenty of time, we also don’t. It took this decade to reaise how short life is and how quickly it can be extinguished. For this reason, I aim to experience everything that I can in this weird and wonderful lifetime. As my grandad used to say ‘it’s better than the alternative’.
Lesson learned=we’re here for a good time, not a long time.
Wishing everyone all the best for 2020. It’s a new decade, let’s smash it!