I turn 21 in a few weeks, and being cooped up inside has got me thinking of all the things I’ve experienced over the last two decades. The first loves and heartbreaks, the mess ups, the drunken nights, the exams failed and the dreams realized, and I thought maybe someone out there might be interested in what I’ve learned.
1. Take that dream, make it bigger
My Dad said this to me a year ago down the phone, during a rather late night phone call. I was having a little freak out over my future, as is the job of every 19 year old around the world. I wanted to apply to a rather challenging university course, but I didn’t know if I could even get accepted, let alone pass the classes. His logic was, who cares? Take what you want to do, and push it further, you have no idea what you’re capable of. (I got into the program, will keep you updated on the whole passing thing.)
2. Read the news, vote, get educated and use your voice to make this world better.
3. Sort your laundry
My mum always told me to do this, and I always thought she was an idiot for making everyones life harder. Sorry mum, you were right. Even if you don’t royally fuck up and end up with a lovely pink tinged sweater, your white clothes will eventually turn a delicious shade of grey – and then your poor student butt will have to spend more money.
4. People will come in and out of your life. It’s ok to mourn their passing, just don’t forget all the good that came from their existence.
5. Exercise everyday
I cannot stress how amazing I feel every time I get my ass off the couch and actually move my body. Whether that’s my group classes on the weekends (I have a Czech ballet teacher who shouts at me for an hour and it’s the best part of my week) or the 20 minute cycle to work. Daily movement has made me feel healthier, improved my body imagine and my mental health. The only down side, of course, being the exercise itself.
6. There’s a lesson to be learned from every relationship you lived through and lost.
7. Ice cream is always a good idea, the size of your hips matters so little.
8. Find a hobby
This seems so obvious, but choosing to learn how to play a sport, or knit a scarf is so therapeutic for the soul. Two years ago I started this blog as a way to share my travel experiences with my family. Since then it has taken on a life of it’s own, but even now going to a cafe, ordering a cup of green tea and writing is the highlight of my day. Even if somedays that’s all I achieve.
9. We all die alone
Grim I know, yet true. Life is something we experience uniquely. You may be lucky enough to find people that will walk it with you, but in reality you are the only one you have to live and die with. So learn to live with yourself in peace; teach yourself to love your quirks, laugh at your own jokes, go to dinner on your own, hang out with you. I promise you’ll realize how cool you are and life will be so much brighter.
10. Look up
My Paris motto: Remember to look up. You’ll always miss something if you’re constantly staring at your toes, focusing on what is directly in front of you. Look up, see the street art decorating the third floor of that apartment building, what about the naked people making out on that balcony….A little bit of perspective makes everything better, whether it’s literal or metaphorical.
11. The world is not a fairy tale, the most perfect life will always have its dark days.
12. Tranquillo the fuck out
This happens to be my step dads favorite line at the moment (after learning Spanish for two weeks) but it rings so true. The years are passing with increasing speed, and from what I’m told that will only get worse. So take the time to be lazy, sleep in on Sunday morning and make pancakes at noon in your pajamas while you still can. I’m not saying fritter your life away, just take advantages of those moments where you can stop, breathe, and appreciate where you are right now.
13. Live consciously. Think about your actions and the impact they have on our environment – this is the only world we have, and it’s dying.
14. Obsessing over ‘what-ifs’ is a waste of time, remain in the present – it’s the only thing you can control.
Or in other words, Just Do It. No but seriously, my terrible joke has a good point. The amount of times I hear “I’m so jealous of your life” “I wish I could move to Paris” and my favorite, “You’re so lucky you speak two languages” drives me crazy. If you have a dream, or a goal, make tangible steps towards achieving it and then eventually it will happen. I have been so lucky to have so many people in my life to support me, but I’m not a magical unicorn. A little 16 year old version of me decided she wanted to move to Paris so she worked 3 jobs and studied her ass off to get here.
16. Apologize. We can all be dicks sometimes, it’s easier to own up to it and move on.
17. Ignorance is not bliss
Don’t ignore others suffering because it makes you feel uncomfortable, turning away from the injustice in the world is part of the problem. Pay attention, wake up. See the homeless, refugees and anyone in need for who and what they are; human beings
18. My parents have their faults, but they are awesome, inspiring, beautiful souls who only want me to succeed.
19. Stay curious, others opinions should be explored – not criticised.
20. Progress is not linear
This is the most important thing I’ve learnt probably in my life so far. Whether you are talking about your career, your mental health or your ability to make the perfect chocolate brownies, progress is not linear. You will fuck up, it is ok.