First off, I must say the deepest of thank you’s for all of your kind and generous birthday wishes today. Along with being my 29th birthday, it is also my ‘last first first’. Going through another ‘first first’ always leaves me feeling so flat, scattered and really distracted - it’s exhausting having to to work through all the emotions again. First firsts are simply another reminder about just how much everything has changed, and who is no longer in your life, but this one was different. It’s the last one, and it’s so freeing. It’s been a week of mixed emotions, but today truly was such a lovely and special day.
I have also been trying to think of a way to sum up my 20’s in an elegant way, I just can’t. It’s too huge, too much has happened (both good and bad) in that time. Every time I sat down to write this post I would get more and more upset, each draft became darker and darker. I didn’t like what I was saying, and I’m certain it’s because this week has been a bit of a turning point for me. I don’t want to look into the past any more. It’s not productive, it hurts too much and I don’t want to taint good memories with the pain that was inflicted last year. I also don’t want to loose any more time feeling sad because of someone else actions. Life is truly far too short.
I do however want to keep learning from what I have gone through, not be afraid of my emotions and honestly share and work through the reality of starting again. Instead of constantly looking back and being disappointed and overwhelmed by what has happened - I want the final year of my 20’s to be a year of positivity, growth, curiosity, new adventures, learning, reading, travel and spending time with friends and family. Not dwelling on a painful past. And so far, 2016 has been filled with so many wonderful new memories, and there will be many more to come. So with that, at the bottom of this post are some of the things that I am proud to have learnt during my 20’s. Again thank you so so much for your endless support, you truly will never know just how much it means. x
I have been fortunate enough to have travelled a lot during my 20’s - at last count I have had the enormous honour of visiting almost 40 counties, and as much as I love being a homebody, I really do have the travel bug. I can remember almost every place I have visited and the thrill of exploring a new culture, city, and learning more about others history has always excited me. But, the lovely thing about travel is that doesn’t have to be a big two year OE, even if you explore a new neighbourhood each month, visit a new city within your country each year, plan the trip of your dreams or bravely take the leap and move somewhere new. Seeing how others live, love and enjoy their lives will have such a profound and lasting effect on you. It will teach you kindness, compassion, patience, the value of home. But most of all it will show you that no matter where you call home on this magnificent Earth, we really are all the same, we all want to be loved, happy and live a safe life.
Plus, Paris is always a good idea - and my four, almost, completely alone days there last year gave me the confidence to know that everything will be ok. And give me the courage to move to Paris for three months this April.
I don’t know how to sum this up, it’s such a huge topic. But even after everything that has happened - I still believe in love - simply because it was being in love that ended our marriage. I am sad that I have lost the innocence of love, but I’m certainly not afraid to love or be loved again.
Don’t be afraid to cry and ask for help
You can’t do it all alone, and you shouldn’t have to. My close friends and family know that I’m the very last person to ever ask for help. It’s not that I don’t want or need their help, I just feel terribly guilty about burdening anyone with my problems. But thankfully they do know that I need them, and they are generous and kind enough to continue to stand right next to me until the storm has past. No matter how ugly, uncomfortable or awkward it gets. Until last year, the person who I would always turn to for support was the one hurting me the most - there is nothing more painful than the disappointment, confusion and deep loss of love and trust that comes with that. It’s unbearable. I was so scared last year, everything I knew and believed in was being taken away from me and I had no other choice to allow myself to fall and let my friends and family be there for me. It’s embarrassing and hard to ask and accept help, but there comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to swallow your pride and just let your loved ones be there for you. Don’t be scared to be vulnerable and ask for help, you are not at all weak to do so and I wish I’d known this sooner - I also had an incredible counsellor who helped me through the darkest of parts. If you would like his contact information, please don’t hesitate to email me, I’d be more than happy to help.
A small side note - if you have a loved one going through a intensely painful time of their lives. Please don’t judge them for their behaviour. Allow them to feel everything they’re going through, it’s not at all up to you how to tell them to act and feel - unless they are physically hurting themselves, someone else or being unfairly cruel. They are simply scared, deeply embarrassed and have no idea how to handle, process and deal with what’s happening - and this brings out a dark primal fear in everyone. As much as you’d like to, please don’t try and quickly fix their problems. Some simply can’t be fixed. But you can be there for them - even if it’s simply texting them a medley of beautiful emoji’s, organising food to be delivered to them, or simply being their shoulder to cry on while they’re falling apart. Knowing that someone is there for you while you’re at your worst, and that they are not judging you at that moment is the best thing you can ever do for someone.
And simply, be generous with your time - kindness really is free you never know when you might need a helping hand one day. And as hard as it is. Learn the value of not comparing your life to someone else’s. It’s incredibly hard when you’re going through something horrible and everyone else seems to have everything. I have sadly been on both ‘sides’ of this (my business was going from strength to strength while I was going through IVF - from the outside, my life was ‘perfect’ on the inside, not so much), so please try not to compare, you really have no idea what someone else’s life is like, what they have had to endure or how hard they have worked for what they have.
Accept change and find a way to turn a negative into a positive.
SO much easier said than done, but it is possible. Change is terribly hard to accept, especially unexpected hurtful change. I wasn’t able to see how anything that was happening last year could turn into a positive - but it has. It’s hard to see how things are going to work out when you’re down, but they can, and they do. I remember making a very very conscious decision early on when everything was falling apart that no matter what I did from that point on it would be positive and it would move me forward. Even if it sometimes felt like I was taking one step forward and 10 back, I wanted to keep moving forward. Paris is that for me, and I’m finally seeing how it’s possible to create something wonderful from a truly horrible experience.
Embrace your sense of humour
Learn the joy and comfort of laughing at your self - you will make so many silly and stupid mistakes throughout your life, and if you can’t laugh at yourself then it will be a very tricky time. I have a really sassy/dark/dry sense of humour with far too many pop culture references added into it, it doesn’t travel well and not everyone gets it, but it’s mine and I actually really enjoy it. Plus, it has made for many hilarious nights with friends and family, and gets sassier with Gin and Tonics.
Work hard for something that you love, but don’t forget to live.
I am forever pinching myself that I have been able to create and sustain a business for myself - it still feels like a dream sometimes - it however though has nothing to do with luck, it’s all hard work. I truly love what I do, I really enjoy working and love the people that I have met and become close friends with over the years. But what I don’t enjoy is when there is no balance. I had this ah ha moment last year - and since then have really been trying to be more in the moment and aware of how I am spending my days. I don’t get it right all the time. But, I’m trying, and would truly hate to look back on life and say “I wish I hadn’t worked so much so that I was able to spend a little more time with the people I love”. Work is wonderful, fulfilling and an essential part of our lives, but it’s not everything.
Never ever stop learning or improving yourself
Learn how to manage your money, accounts and life. Please don’t assume that all is well because your other half is looking after it. Continue to be curious with topics that interest you - be it listening to a 15min Ted Talk or podcast, learning a new language, recipe or skill, going back to university, enrolling in workshops or simply reading a chapter or two of a book each day. Never stop learning, it’s the best gift.
And last but not least. Never ever forget that you are allowed to be happy, loved and create a life that is just for you. xo