Recently, I reached the grand old age of nineteen, so I thought I’d look back on all of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my childhood and teenage years in the hope that it will help some of you a little younger (and possibly older) than me! Heres nineteen lessons I’ve learned in nineteen years…
1. Despite what people will tell you, school days are NOT the best days of your life. If you accept that being told what to do and when to do it, dealing with sh*tty people, eating dinner hall food and stressing about Pythagoras theorem is the best your life ever going to get, then to be honestly I feel sorry for you. I know the rest of my life is going to be SO much better than all the years I had to waste being miserable at school.
2. Skipping class really isn’t that big of a deal- Seriously, I skipped 30% of my A Level year, completed the work at my own pace and still passed all of my subjects. I’m not saying completely ditch school, but if theres lessons you’re attending just to get your mark, time could be better spent doing revision you know works for you in a productive environment.
3. Money really does make the world go round. The older I get, the more I realise how much easier life gets the more money you have. A fat bank account doesn’t just get you new Chanel bags and sports cars, it gets you time, freedom and opportunity. At nineteen, I’m already thinking about long term investments and maximising my financial potential, because I definitely don’t want to be twenty five and still waiting for my minimum wage to drop into my bank account at the end of the month.
4. It’s really hard to get a job in retail- like really, REALLY hard. One of the biggest shocks of my adult life so far is just how much employers expect of you before they pay you £5.30 an hour- if you’re not educated, experienced, able to drive and available 24/7 (EVEN for 8 hour contracts🙄) don’t even bother applying to stack shelves. It took me 150+ applications to get my first job and knowing that that many people didn’t even deem me worthy of minimum wage was really disheartening and frustrating. Be prepared for a LOT of rejection emails.
5. Organisation is key. I wish I could go back and give my sixteen year old self a shake and tell her to get her sh*t together- I could have saved myself SO much stress during GCSE’s if I’d have been properly organised. I’m not saying you have to plan your life minute by minute, but having a calendar and a tidy room will make the world of difference to your life, I promise.
6. Fresh air and daylight will never fail to lift your mood. Whenever I’m stuck in a rut, I take fifteen minutes to go outside and let my mind and body breathe.
7. Being an introvert is fine. If you don’t want to go out clubbing every weekend you don’t have to- if staying in your own safe environment and watching a film makes you happy, do it! You’ll save your bank account and liver a lot of problems.
8. I wholeheartedly believe EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I once read somewhere that the odds of you even existing are something like 1 in 100 trillion because of all the tiny events that had to happen at exactly the right time for you to be born, and knowing that helps me stress a little less when something goes wrong, because I know its just a tiny event happening at exactly the right time to get me to where I need to be.
9. I’ve recently found that you have to experiment before you find your passion. It might take you GCSE’s, A Levels, a university degree and ten different hobbies to find something you’re truly passionate about, but its better to have a go at everything than to think ‘what if’.
10. Bold decisions pay off. My recent step into adulthood led me to make some pretty adventurous moves, including rejecting university offers to take a gap year, deciding I don’t want to go to uni at all and working towards something completely new, and quitting my job because it was making me unhappy. Now, I’m working towards something I absolutely adore and I’m the process of finding a job that doesn’t make me feel sick at the thought of going for in the meantime.
11. Don’t feel guilty about wanting more. One night, whilst trying to enjoy a meal with my grandparents in my town centre, we were interrupted by a man clearly on drugs banging on the window who waved and laughed at us when we tutted and told him to go away. This lead me to put something along the lines of ‘I didn’t deserve to be born in Middlesbrough’ in my friendship group chat, to which someone replied ‘What, and we all did?’, which for a second, made me feel guilty. I felt like a snob for putting myself above where I came from. Then I realised- I AM worth more than being stuck in a dead end town full of drug addicts, I DO deserve to live in a nice place where I can enjoy a meal in peace, and if you don’t even place that much value on yourself then thats YOUR problem. Sometimes, I think people are threatened when you have bigger aspirations than them because they don’t have the nerve to aim high themselves.
12. An important lesson I’ve learned very recently is don’t let your boss walk all over you. No matter how young or inexperienced you are, your boss should never expect you to be at their beck and call 24/7 to do the jobs no one else wants to, because they’re definitely not going to be paying you enough for that. Yes, you have to work hard to progress, but don’t put up with being used as a zero hour contractor just because you’re young. Stand your ground and let your boss know you’re a valued member of the team like everyone else, and deserve to be treated like one.
13. You’re always a work in progress. This has been a hard lesson to learn because as a child I always believed that by this age I’d have my life together, I’d be organised, creative and successful, and I am all three, just not in the capacity or way I imaged. I’ve learned that small steps add up and it may not seem like you’re making progress, but when you look back and see how far you’ve come it’ll encourage you to keep working on yourself.
14. Being a minimalist makes your life so much easier. I’m SO glad I found this out so early in my life because it has seriously changed the way I live. I used to stress about how my bedroom looked, having one of absolutely everything in my wardrobe and making sure I had every lipstick shade, foundation and skincare product known to man. Now, I have a low maintenance, black and white, *almost clinical* room, a monochrome wardrobe and personal uniform of a t-shirt, leggings and black trainers. Make up has been the biggest change though, and now I hop out of bed every morning, cleanse and get on with my day barefaced. Getting rid of all my make up and simplifying my skincare routine has saved me SO much time and energy- I definitely think minimalism could help you if you feel overwhelmed and busy all the time.
15. Its okay to have a write off day. Sometimes, its counterproductive to attempt to get things done when you know you’re not in the right mindset to do so- your time could be better spent taking a proper break then coming back to the task with a fresh mind.
16. ‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time is now.’ Whatever you want to do, get as much of a head start as you possibly can- your future self will thank you for it.
17. Drink your water, eat your veggies, take your vitamins. Taking basic care of your physical health will make you feel full of energy and on top of your game in the short term and will benefit you no end in the long term.
18. In my nineteen short years I’ve visited three continents, eleven countries and four US states and its taught me theres nothing more inspiring than travel. Life isn’t meant to be lived in one place- theres jungles, beaches, deserts, oceans, mountains, architecture, museums, galleries and cafes waiting to be explored on every corner of the globe and to me the point of life is to see as many of them as possible.
19. Life’s better when you give less f*cks. I used to get stressed over every minor inconvenience you could possibly think of, and don’t get me wrong, there are still days now where I’ll have to take deep breaths over my car key fob not working or there being no milk in the fridge, but for the most part I’m chiller than I’ve ever been. I pick and choose very carefully whats worth giving a f*ck about and whats a waste of energy.
I hope you found some of these life lessons useful, feel free to share anything you’ve learned in the comments and share your knowledge! Megan x