So, I turned 21 on Thursday, which to me, is an absolutely terrifying idea. I have friends older than me who will say that 21 is still so young, which in the grand scheme of things it is, but to me it feels like the first year of real adulthood. I found turning 20 made me feel very old last year, but turning 21 is different, it's full of responsibilities and decisions, and plus you have to go up to a new option on most questionnaires! In order to try and cheer myself up about the fact I'm getting old, I thought I'd talk about 21 things I've learnt from my 21 years on earth so far.

1. You will find your people.

I had a hard time in school when I was growing up, was badly bullied, and hadn't really had any 'real' friends at the age of 16. Sixth form was fine, I made some poorly judged friends, and some fantastic friends (massive shout out to Cam & Kieran if you're reading this). Unfortunately, having gone into full-time work straight after school, when all my friends went off to uni, meant I felt a little stranded in terms of friends & people to hang out with. Uni is where it all really changed for me! I was so so nervous that I wouldn't find really great best friends, and would be alone, but it was quite the opposite. Zara, Jas & Jade, I couldn't live without you, you keep me (relatively) sane, and I'm so thankful for all of you. I am also so thankful that last year, instagram bought me and my best friend Daisy together, and I'm so blessed and lucky to have her in my life.

2. Life is short: dye your hair, get that tattoo & eat that cake.

I personally believe in the philosophy that you shouldn't regret anything, because you wanted it at one moment in your life. Life is way too short to regret the things you didn't do.

3. Do what you want, and don't feel guilty about it!

Want to stay in and watch netflix instead of going out with your friends? Just do it; your friends will understand, and you'll feel better than you would have doing something you don't really want to.

4. Money won't bring you happiness.

Before I went to university, I was working as a trainee financial advisor for a private firm and had a good salary, but it wasn't enough. I'm happier now as a poor student because I love what I do everyday. The exact same thing happened to my boyfriend who worked in the same company as I did, and he's also now left to pursue something that he loves everyday. A well-paid salary won't make you smile as you come home, and want to tell your family all about your day, it only does that if you love what you do.

5. It doesn't matter whether you're a morning person.

I got so hung up in my first year of uni because I wasn't a morning person; you read so many articles saying that the most productive people are those who get up at 6 and go for a run and have done a billion things before their work day even starts, but it just wasn't me. I now get up between 9 and 10 most days, and fit my routine in around how I feel during the day. Having M.E. means that I generally don't cope very well with early morning starts, and so waking up a bit later works so much better for me - I'd rather have 6 productive hours of work than 10 unproductive hours because I can't stop yawning.

6. Worrying isn't worth it.

One of my favourite quotes is "worrying won't change the outcome", and I have it on my letterboard in my uni room all the time to remind me. It's so easy to worry about things like marks, or friendships or work or honestly anything, but all you're doing by worrying is using up time that could be used productively instead. It's so easy to say this, and I'm still not perfect at it, but I'm getting there.

7. You know your body best.

I specifically want to reiterate this in terms of chronic illnesses, but it applies to so many aspects of our life. I, like many other of my friends with chronic illnesses, had to push and push and push to even get a referral at a hospital, let alone a diagnosis. My battle with chronic illness and it's diagnosis has now been going on for over 7 years, and I'm only just getting close to a diagnosis, but I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without the confidence that I was able to tell that something was wrong in myself.

8. Hobbies are important.

Last year at uni, I didn't really have many hobbies, I just spent my time studying or sleeping. Sports aren't my thing, and I find social events quite tiring, and I just didn't feel like I fitted in any of the societies the university or my college offered. The wonderful thing about university is that you're free to do what you're want: my hobbies this year involve reading and painting, which I'm able to do from the comfort of my uni room and don't find them draining. I'm so glad I found hobbies that work for me this year as they give me a way to relax and de-stress at the end of the day, and help me sleep better too.


9. It's okay to cut toxic people out of your life.

I've definitely had to do this a couple of times, and it doesn't get any easier, but if someone (a boyfriend/ girlfriend/ family member/ friend) is having a negative effect on your mental health, then you need to prioritise yourself, and yourself only. 

10. Going to university is not your only option to get somewhere in life.

As mentioned above, I worked in finance for a year before I decided to apply to uni. When I was in sixth form, I felt extremely pressured to go to uni, especially as a student with good grades, and unfortunately my school left me feeling like I had very few options other than going to uni. Thankfully, at the time I was set on not going to uni, and I'm so glad I didn't! So, if you have a crappy career's adviser like I did, you don't have to go to uni to be successful - there are of plenty of other opportunities out there if you don't want to go! I have friends who in training schemes, full time work and apprenticeships, and the most important thing is to pick what's right for you.

11. Make effort with the people that make effort for you.

Life is too short for one sided friendships. It unfortunately happens, but recognising that it is a one-sided friendship or relationship is important. I'm not saying don't be there for someone who wouldn't do the same for you, because they may not have anyone else to talk to, but if you feel they wouldn't listen to you if you needed it, it may be time to backtrack a little from that friendship.

12. Be organised and prepared.

Being organised is one of the things that really helps me at uni and in my day to day life. You honestly never know what's going to happen, to always having your phone charged, emergency supplies of plasters and paracetamol and doing things and assignments in advance will all help you (hopefully) stay on top of things.

13. Your health is the most important thing.

I'm thankful that I learnt this pretty early on in life. It's hard to put into words, but essentially the message is that you don't owe anybody anything when your health is concerned. There's no reason for you to push yourself and make yourself more ill for an employer who would replace you in the blink of an eye. Don't sacrifice yourself for someone who wouldn't do the same for you.

14. You will be happy again.

I, like all of us, have feel heartbreak and sadness bad enough I didn't think I'd come back from it, but I did, and I'm fine now. We unfortunately all go through heartbreak of all different shapes and forms, and we all will experience great sadness. There is no perfect solution, a good support network helps, but there can be some small comfort in knowing that things will be okay in the end, and you will get back to being you.

15. Honesty is always the best policy.

Yes, a small lie may be the easiest and least scary thing to say at the time, but it will come back to bite you on the ass, they always do.

16. Memories are always worth the money.

I appreciate my memories of holidays and trips much more than that top I bought from H&M that time and probably wore twice before putting on depop. Memories are the things worth saving up for in my opinion, and its my memories and things I have to look forward to that keep me going sometimes.

17. Sometimes, being selfish is important.

I'm very much a people pleaser, and I like to try and do right by everyone all at once, which can be draining, mentally, emotionally and physically. Sometimes, it's okay to be selfish! On those days when you feel you need it, it's okay to shut yourself in your room with a book or a film, or to say no to somebody: your health is the most important, and having time for yourself plays such an important role in that.

18. I come from a background of privilege.

I am lucky that I come from a stable background, with enough money to get by. I know it hasn't always been easy for my parents, but I come from a background where my parents could afford food, and all of our bills for a nice house, and a holiday once a year. It took me a while to realise that whilst I am not rich, I am privileged to be able to afford the basics and also some luxuries in life. I think it's important to recognise said privilege, in the hope that I am able to use it to help others who are less fortunate.

19. Your parents are probably right (unfortunately).

Yes, it pains me to say this too. But google "20 things I learnt by 20" or "50 things I learnt by 50" and 99% of them will say this too. As you get older, you realise that your parents just wanted best for you when you were younger, and that you probably were a little shit as a teenager. They are unfortunately, very wise, and tend to know what's best for you as they've been there themselves.

20. Everything happens for a reason, and you will find your way.

I'm such a firm believer that what will be, will be, that I have it tattooed on my leg. The things I've been through, as cheesy as it sounds, have made me who I am today, and although there's times in my life so far that I don't particularly have fond memories of, it's taught me so many things and how to deal with things now.

21. Always tell the people in your life how much you appreciate and love them.

You never know when it'll be the last opportunity, make the most of them whilst they're around.