Ahh yep - feels about right to write a blog post about some empowering shizzle...
In nearly three years of blogging, and eight (nearly nine) years of being in my twenties I've learnt a few things. My birthday is on 28 September, and with my overseas trip, it feels very, very close. It's weird to say 'Next year I'll be 30'. Sayonara early twenties days and hello late twenties - yep - loud and clear! Some of these have been hard lessons which I am still going through, and some of them are basic common sense I feel on top of my game with now. Of course, I am always learning about life, and would love to know what you think. Here is what I would tell any of you about what it takes to be able to give it your all in life as I know it, so far.
1. Some people suck; accept that you do not have to be everyone's friend
This morning I woke up to some jack-ass having bought me 50 fake followers on Instagram. Wow - what a cool guy! I quickly blocked all the accounts and got on with my day. Was there any point in crying about it? No. Some people in the world do not like me and that is okay. Yeah, it sucks, but I also know that I can't control what other people say about me and gosh they really need to find more interesting stuff with their time!
Through your twenties, you will meet people who are jealous of what you do or think that you have it easy. They may not be kind to you, they may make up rubbish about you but the most important thing that you can do to show them up is your most AWESOME self. Although it is tempting, especially when you think you might run into these people, to hide away, that's the biggest mistake. Show up, wear a kick-ass dress and knock them out by being so good at your work, or your life, that they're left for dead. Like the saying goes "You cannot please everyone. You're not an avocado."
2. Invest in the things and people that will give back to you
I am a huge believer in education which is why I had to add this. Whenever you invest in education, it will pay dividends. Ditto nurturing real and important relationships that are meaningful, like learning to be friends with your parents as adults.
In our early twenties, it can be easy to get caught up in what's exciting, staying out all night, chasing the party and generally just giving the world the middle finger. Riding the wave of the zeitgeist, and picking friends who are a bit crazy and 'YOLO' is the territory. Dude - I get it. I've been there. But always be aware that when that friend lets you down AGAIN or ends up kissing your crush at the end of the night, that you don't have to feel alone.
Ultimately its the family and friends (or equivalent) you've known the longest and who know you the best who will have your back. Start spending more time on those relationships, staying at home watching the Antiques Roadshow with your parents, and less time with people who don't appreciate how AMAZING you are. And study something. Get some good work experience and build your CV. Make you the CEO of your own life.
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3. You don't need that many people to be happy
Leading from the above point, the main people these days in my life are Matt, Mum and Dad, Matt's parents, my best friend Maria, a few work colleagues, and a handful of other friends and acquaintances I love dearly. That's it. Once, long before the blog, my Dad told me I needed one good friend and that was it. I've always remembered that even when times have been tough and friendships have ended. Anything more than one good friend is a luxury, not a necessity.
4. Autonomy is everything - make something for yourself first
I am often asked how I find the time to blog. The answer is I do it because I love being my own boss. I decide who goes up each week. I decide what I write about. No one criticises my writing and if a partner doesn't want to work in my way, they don't have to and can go elsewhere (of course I am very professional with the brands I DO work with - I just don't bother to work with any who aren't on the same page).
Autonomy is a really key part to being happy. If you do something for yourself, focused on your own passions and interests, you will be good at it because you will WANT to show up and do it regularly. Forbes reports that "As a generalization, it's pretty safe to say that freedom of choice and a sense of autonomy have a powerful positive effect on happiness". As you age, don't wait for someone to give you permission to get started on that thing you want to achieve. You can do it and be a BOSS at it, all on your own.
5. Be creative and enjoy it
Creativity is different for everyone. I am often surprised at the number of people I've interviewed who have said "I'm not creative" and yet have started difficult business models from scratch, with no experience and are killing it. Typically, we think of creativity as art or drawing pictures but it is SO MUCH MORE. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, says that creativity doesn’t happen in our heads but in the interaction between our imagination and our social context. It’s a matter of experience and response, a matter of relationship to others and a commentary on the significance of our encounters... Each of us is contributing to the creation of the cultures we participate in. So next time you think you don't need creativity, remember that it is vital for our own relationship to the world. Don't freak out about it. Embrace your creative strengths which are unique to you and OWN THEM.
6. Don't expect to be an overnight success - there's no such thing
I've been going at this blogging shtick a while now, and I still feel like a newbie very often, especially compared to some of the amazing UK bloggers who have been going at it for nearly 10 years. Being successful is the cumulative experience of every day of your life, and repeating some kind of activity for long enough that you are considered at expert at it. While I may be getting some exciting traction now, working with brands I love and being asked to speak at events and the like, I spent a whole year asking people to let me write about them for free, before I even got a single opportunity. I wasn't paid for over a whole year for anything!
If you admire someone, and they're good at it, chances are that that person worked really hard for a really really long time. Instead of feeling anxious, go and find out about the years of struggle and hard work that that person put in. Use that as your mantra whenever you feel tired and wonder what the point is in keeping going. Personally, I look at Todd Selby and that he worked as a photographer for years before he found success. Todd, I love you. You're my man.
7. Get off your phone and make epic sh*t
My phone is my single biggest waste of time. Since downloading the app 'Moment' I've found that I spend on average at minimum 3 hours a day, most of which is on Instagram. Apps are designed to be like gambling machines: they're supposed to be addictive and 'sticky'. Whether it is painting, going for a walk or sitting down at your laptop, my number one tip to be more productive is to leave your phone alone. Once you do, you'll be shocked at the time you have.
8. Decide on your own definition of sexy
I've always been pretty convinced I'm not a sexy person (actually my ex also told me that - but he was a MASSIVE ARSEHOLE). But as I've gotten older, I've realised that being sexy comes from loving who you are and being yourself. Dancing around the room in your flannel pjs and singing a stupid song to make your partner laugh can be sexy; helping out your friend with a crisis can be seriously sexy; saying no to working with someone you don't believe in is sexy. See, being sexy isn't about sex. It's about saying 'screw you' to what other people think, and knowing yourself well enough that nothing will come between you and what you want. Either that or a killer red lipstick and a jumpsuit (see above *laugh cry emoji*).
9. Relationships are tough; expect to work hard - but also know you can't fix everything
There is an art to knowing when to fix something and when to let go. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to this one. Listen to the adults who say relationships are hard work; they know some stuff. You need to invest time in being together and doing nothing except being present. Equally, you can't make some people happy ever, no matter what you do. Leave them and learn to be happy on your own.
10. People might be jealous of you - there's nothing you can do
When I was growing up, my Mum would sometimes tell me that other girls at school were mean to me because they were jealous. I always used to pooh-pooh her. Who in their right mind would be jealous of ME? Well, over the years I have come to look back and while I still don't know the answer to that questions, I think she might have been right. It could be anything you do that triggers someone, but likely it isn't something you're even conscious was 'wrong'. You could speak in a certain way. You could have a certain kind of education. You might naturally be confident. Either way, know that it is someone else's sad challenges which they need to face that are holding them back, not you. You need to send them love and understanding, and then get on with your own thing.
11. Be eccentric - no one is really watching
Hi. My names Lucy and at 28 I take full ownership of the fact I ENJOY TAKING OUTFIT PHOTOS. Yeah, its arguably embarrassing but you know what - who cares? I love working with Ashley Church, and coming up with cool ideas together, shooting around Wellington, and even getting to wear clothes from brands like Good As Gold. Am I eccentric - absolutely? Does anyone want to not be my friend because of this? Well, if not, ya not for me sunshine! Only some people really are talking about you. And if they are, good luck to them. What have they got to show for their criticisms? Nada.
12. Give before you ask to receive
In this Instagram insta world, it seems like people are getting sent free things all the time. Before worrying about what you don't have or who you'd like to be paid to work with, why not offer to work to help them for free first? For the first year of my blogging, and still, ongoing today, I very often expect nothing in return. For instance, I don't get to keep all the clothes I model in photos. I do it to show off the brand and make it look awesome. It's about showing people what you can do and showing your value before asking to be paid. Do it because you love it.
13. Give and expect nothing in return
In a similar vein, make sure you spend some time helping people, whether that is through volunteering, mentoring or supporting a cause simply because it is the right thing to do. Don't expect anything back and just share what you've learnt and your gifts with others.
14. Not everyone cares about your thing as much as you - but if you spend time around them, they should be supportive
Cut those who don't appreciate what you do. Having said that, also acknowledge that people probably don't want to hear about your work or passion project 24/7. There's a balance, but know the difference between a loving friend who needs a break, and an unsupportive friend who is not going to be rooting for you all the way.
15.Keep a good relationship with your work colleagues
One reason I might never full-time blog is that I think I would miss work colleagues. These people can be the accidental friends you never knew you needed. Sure, don't come to work looking for your bosom buddy. But also accept the kindships and support these people can offer, at all ages and stages.
16. Don't work in a job you hate forever in the hopes it will improve - get out now
I worked as a lawyer for two years - a job which was all wrong for me. Ironically one of the best things I ever did was leave that job and change careers to be a policy advisor. I felt like a failure at the time, but it would have been far worse to wait another five years to make the call. On the other hand, its never too late to start again.
17. Make a side hustle
Emma Gannon has recently written a book called 'The Multi-Hyphen Method', predicting that the future of work is freelancing and working across multiple jobs and projects as we become less location-centric in our work and enabled to be creative through technology. I agree with Emma and I have found that having a side hustle blogging is one of the best things I ever decided to do. Side hustles can grow, and while it might be slow at first, you'll learn so much along the way and things WILL get faster. Few people ever quit their jobs and go all in all at once. Like the Mainland Cheese ad says "Good Things Take Time".
18. Behind every quiet day, someone is making a plan to work with you - be patient
The worst days or, sometimes, the worst years, and the ones where nothing seems to happen. Your inbox is empty, your boss overlooks you for a promotion or you just can't to see to get a break generally. What I've learnt is that for every grey day, the next day is sunny and bright. After all, behind the clouds there is still blue sky. When you think that everything is just not quite busy enough or plodding along enough, someone will come to you with a great offer you can't refuse. Sure enough, suddenly you'll likely have more work on your hands than you know what to do with!
19. Make time for just you
This weekend I booked myself in for a bath by myself. I needed some time out after a stressful week, something that is PRETTY COMMON. Whether it is reading a book, chilling out in bed or going for a quiet walk, don't underestimate the power of recharging your batteries. You need to be fully charged to be able to deliver to the rest of the world your best self, so don't neglect it.
20. Love and be grateful - you can make the world dance
In the words of one of my favourite online mentors, Marie Forleo "Keep going for your dreams because the world needs that special something that only you have." Lately (as cheesy as it sounds) I've reconnected with the idea that it is more important to focus on what I HAVE, rather than what I lack. Sure, I might not be the most popular person ever. A very small amount of people might think I am a poo. However, there are so many amazing people who do love what I do, read my blog and appreciate my work. I have a loving boyfriend who is VERY supportive and kind parents that are generous and funny. I have an education, a good job, a warm house, lots of clothes, many beauty products etc etc. I can pay my bills. I can exercise. I have my health. Everything else is really just noise in the background. Gratitude might have become an Instagram cliche but it is still a very important life lesson.
What lessons did you/or have you learnt in your late twenties?
All clothes by the epic folk at Good As Gold, except shoes are from Chaos and Harmony. Please note these were only for photo purposes and sadly they were not kept by the author. Watch gifted by Daniel Wellington.