1. Invest your time into the right people –
STOP trying to please others, for God’s sake, if I can give you any advice, it’s this!
If people like you, that’s great, and if they don’t - honestly, who gives a shit?! As long as those you care about love you, everyone else can quite frankly say, 'Bye Felicia!'
Are we really going to look back on our lives in 70 years and be all like ‘OMG, XX didn’t like my outfit that day’ or ‘I could tell that XX never really liked me. She never laughed at anything I said or liked any of my selfies.’
Girls, WHY do we invest so much time into worrying about the opinions of strangers, or people we actually don’t care for?! STOP IT! This detrimental behaviour ends here!
It’s an age old cliché, but NEVER pretend to be anything other than yourself. The people who love you for YOU are the ones you want in your life – those who know every inch of your sassy, diva, sometimes passive aggressive, slightly loopy self and still adore you regardless.
You’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You will cross paths with people who you’re not overly fond of, too. It’s fine – be civil, and move on. We’re adults – we are not obliged to spend any time whatsoever with those whose company we do not desire.
Sometimes, we fall under the misconception that bitchiness ends in the school playground – it doesn’t. Even as an adult, you’re going to meet people who will judge you, berate you, belittle you, patronise you, and even attempt you bully you. Don’t take it personally.
Fact: some people will never be happy for you or want to see you doing well, no matter what. Remove toxic people from your life – THEY DON’T MATTER.
2. Having a relationship is NOT the be-all and end-all –
At the age of 22, I was worried that I was going to be ‘left on the shelf.’ All of my friends were in long-term relationships, and I was still getting absolute bone-heads that I hadn’t seen for five plus years poking me on Facebook as a way of communication.
I dated both here and while living in Spain, and each and every one was a disaster. I had men bringing me melons as presents, men pretending to play the drums mid-date, and one man who dedicated ten whole minutes to talking about Custard Creams (they are the shit, don’t get me wrong, but ten minutes... Seriously?!). Honestly, my dating history could be a book in itself.
Anyway, I was genuinely terrified that I was going to be single forever. Looking back, I actually laugh at my naivety. I was 22, for God’s sake – practically a baby!
While I would never regret meeting my husband (who, consequently, I did meet when I was 22!), I do sometimes wish that I had met him a few years later. Your 20’s are your years of discovery, and should be invested into new exciting opportunities and travel.
Contrary to popular belief, you are NOT supposed to have your entire life mapped out in your 20’s – that’s defies the whole fun of the decade!
Enjoy just being on your own, and use this time wisely. Find your confidence, your passion, your inner peace, and the right person will come along at the right time. But prioritise yourself, because you have the rest of your life to be a partnership, a parent, or anything else that comes with adulthood.
Oh, and when you do meet someone, NEVER settle for somebody who doesn’t love EVERY SINGLE part of you, because I’ll tell you now that somebody out there will.
3. Embrace ALL of you – even your flaws –
Throughout high school, I had literally confidence no at all. I hated the way I looked (if you ever see any photos of my pre-brace teeth, you will know why). I was scrawny, and while all of my friends were blossoming into women, I felt as though I was stuck in the body of a child. I longed for curves, but they never came. I hated my black hair and blue eye combination and bizarrely spent my days wishing that I had brown eyes, which I considered to be a more ‘normal’ colouring (I know, right????).
But then one day, something just clicked. When I was 17 years old, I just discovered this inner self confidence that never left. I can’t even describe it, but it really was the most empowering revelation, and is one the qualities I admire the most about myself.
While I am a big believer in bigging up other women, I also take time to applaud my own successes and admire my own unique beauty, and that is something that ALL girls should make a part of their daily routine.
Self-confidence is often perceived as an almost negative trait, and can be confused as somebody being ‘big headed.’ This is not the case AT ALL, and anybody who thinks so clearly hasn’t discovered their own self worth yet, and that’s sad.
Since WHEN was loving yourself and the way you look a bad thing?!
We live in a society that almost wants us to loathe ourselves.
I have no boobs (literally – they’re like fried eggs plastered onto a pencil), and I have recently developed adult acne all down my jaw-line which is annoying AF, but at the same time, I like my legs, and my long, thick hair.
I’m far, far from perfect, but I’m very happy with the way I look.
Confidence really is the most dazzling quality a person can possess. Love yourself, and others will love you too.
4. The ‘norm’ needn’t define nor entertain you –
Go to uni, get a job, meet someone, buy a house, get married, have a baby, die. The general expectations of life are quite depressing when you think about, aren’t they?!
We are all so subconsciously tuned into what we consider to be the ‘normal’ path of life that often, we actually forget what it is that we really want.
I’m 27 years old, married, and have just bought my first house. Part of me wonders whether I should have turned a blind eye to the constant negative comments and judgements, and just taken time to enjoy simply being together and invested further into the one thing we love so much: travel.
As soon as you get with someone, it’s all, ‘So when you are moving in together?’ or ‘When is he going to put a ring on it?’ Then it’s, ‘When are you getting married?’ which eventually leads to the most dreaded question of all: ‘WHEN ARE YOU GETTING PREGNANT?!’
I know better than anybody how hard it is to ignore the rat race and the pressure set by society. We got married before we bought a house – GOD FORBID!!! Despite having saved a house deposit between us, travelled, AND paid off a wedding, people were still so quick to jump on the negatives of our situation and bring us down. I did let it get to me on many occasions, but now I just think, why? Honestly, why?
I’d say a vast majority of us are going to end up with the same outcomes in life (house, marriage, children), so why does it matter in what order we do it, and indeed, when? People get married in their 70’s! Some women chose to have kids in their teens, and some in their late 40’s. Some married couples live in separate house for their entire lives, and swear by it!
Honestly, why does it matter so much what other people do?
And why does it matter so much what other people think?
Answer: IT DOESN’T.
Just do what YOU want to do, and don’t feel as though you have to justify your decisions to ANYBODY!
5. Never underestimate the power of self love –
Everything in moderation: that is the secret to feeling great.
Look after your body, because you have it for life. Smash that work out, go get your personal best, but at the same time, eat that cake and pour yourself a glass of wine after a crappy day.
Be productive and work hard to achieve your goals, but when all you feel like doing is hibernating under a duvet with a Bridget Jones binge, then girl, you indulge!
Your 20’s are full of the above mentioned pressures – sometimes it’s all we can do to remind ourselves to just breathe every once in a while. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s totally fine not to have your shit together some days.
Knockbacks are part of life.
Didn’t get the job? Have a night off applying and get back to it in the morning. Tomorrow is a new day.
Ran a bad time in your 10k? It happens. Take a day or so off training and then give it your all next time your run!
Spent all day in your pyjamas, eating chocolate and watching Gavin & Stacey? Sounds like absolute bliss! We all need a day off sometimes.
Never burn yourself out for anything, whether it’s, your job, your social life, your relationship, or even training for a marathon. Saying 'no' is not a crime.
6. Learn not to give a damn what others think of you –
This is very similar to some of my earlier points, but it is all so relevant.
Be weird, be wonderful, be YOU, because nobody does it better!
I write books and poetry, and I dress my hamsters up. I dress like a Pussycat Dolls backing dancer 99% of the time, and I’m stuck in a time warp of 90’s R&B music. I’m needlessly sassy sometimes. I’m extremely driven in my goals; maybe too much so. Sometimes, I throw my bikini on in the house and pretend that I’m on holiday.
Despite not drinking, I’m always first on the dance floor, chucking myself into some very questionable shapes. I’m well aware that I look an absolute disaster, but I don’t care. I never have. I LOVE going out and dancing, and I really couldn’t care less about the dirty looks from the girls around the edge of the dance-floor who have come out purely to judge others.
What a night they must be having – NOT! You don't need to feel intimated by people, and you're not on a night out with your gals to conform to other people's 'norm.'
So girls, you know what to do – get on the dance-floor to your fave tune, and just let yourself go, because life really is too short!
All of the above make me, ME.
I vow not to hide parts of myself to appease others.
We are all jigsaws made up of thousands of mismatched pieces, totally unique to US.
How amazing is that?!
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©