Every now and then, you read a book that has so many pearls of wisdom, it has you reaching for a pen to circle sections. I’m not usually one for defacing a book, so you know a book has to be good, if I’m scribbling all over it. Whether you consider yourself a grown up or not (for the record: at 38, I’m still not totally convinced I am, and one day the world will find me out) Daisy Buchanan’s book How To Be A Grown Up will most likely help you navigate some of life’s trickier moments.
Here are some of the things that this book taught me – or at the very least reminded me…
1. Sometimes it’s OK to let a friendship fall to the wayside.
I think this is a really important thing to remember. We can’t possibly keep every friendship going – when you think about how much we grow and change, from childhood through to adulthood, what are the chances that we will grow and change in the same way as all of our friends? “Over the course of your adult life, you will find your tribe,” says Daisy, “but like falling in love, it might happen in a way that takes you by surprise. You will outgrow people, and they will outgrow you.”
And this isn’t something we should feel bad about either – I’ve got friends that I used to see on a monthly basis for drinks and dinner. Now we just see each other once a year, and some I don’t see at all. We didn’t fall out, nothing dramatic happened, our lives just took us off in different directions. That’s OK.
2. Finding new friends, as an adult, is something to celebrate.
Unlike when you’re a student and your friendship criteria is something like: Live in same halls of residence, both like Steps/S Club 7, both drink WKD (we’re going to be actual BFFs), it can be trickier to make actual proper friends, in your 20s and 30s. “When it comes to people, you become fussier, and that’s a good thing,” says Daisy. “Your first friends are made when you have no idea who you are or what you like. As you get older, friends are something you can afford to get fussy about. When I was 21, I was looking for the people who would help me to become who I am. At 31, I am now that person.”
Of course, when you become a mum, you can suddenly find yourself back in the less fussy space – your friendship criteria might be something like: Goes to same Monkey Music class, both have baby the same age, both drink skinny cappuccinos. But the friendships I made during the sleep deprived months of new motherhood are ones I cherish – they got me through some dark times, when I was trying to work out how my new role as a mum worked.
3. When it comes to work, meeting new people is key
This is something I actually realised last year, and reading Daisy’s book crystallised it in my head. It’s all well and good chatting to people online, or on email, or even on the phone, but when it comes to work, there’s no substitute for meeting people face to face – whether it’s going to an event that you know interesting people will be at, arranging to meet someone for coffee to share ideas or saying yes to a meeting with someone who wants to meet you. Sometimes, nothing will come from it, but sometimes a conversation will spark off an idea in your head – or their head – that could lead you somewhere exciting.
“I always ask new contacts if they fancy a coffee,” says Daisy. “I try to meet at least one new person a week. Sometimes it’s good for me, sometimes I help the person I’m meeting, but I think that hearing about the ideas and perspective of someone you haven’t met before is always energising – a work-out for your work brain.”
4. Washing your hair well is a game changer
After reading this book, I changed the way I wash my hair. Following Daisy’s advice, I bought myself some sulphate-free shampoo and now really pay attention to how I wash my hair, taking time over it rather than giving it a half hearted lather. “The way we choose to take care of ourselves often has a bigger impact than the one you immediately see on the surface,” she says. “I don’t have the grandest, glossiest hair in the world – but I do have a sense that in one tiny area, I’m nourished, healthy and doing my very best. No one benefits from it but me.”
5. Don’t be mean online
Actually, don’t be mean full stop. But there’s definitely more of a temptation to be mean online because it feels much safer to do so from behind your computer screen / phone than doing it to someone’s face. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend of a friend, who sounds ‘a bit UKIP’, a famous celebrity with 50 bajillion followers, or an anonymous egg who has important penis pictures that must be DMd to you urgently,” says Daisy. “No matter how great the temptation is, don’t be mean. Block, mute, privately message a good friend and slag them off, write down all of your bitchy thoughts on a piece of paper and burn it. But if it isn’t kind, if it isn’t supportive, if you could imagine it upsetting your mum if it got read out on the news, delete delete delete.”
I learned this lesson the hard way, back in the early days of Twitter, when I tweeted slightly mean things about a couple of journalists, who had LOADS of followers, so my assumption was that they would never see my tweets (even though I tagged them… yep, I really was that stupid.) Unsurprisingly, they saw the tweets, objected, one of them called me a c*** and then blocked me. Fair play.
6. Jealousy is a sign that you need more love in your life
We all find ourselves feeling jealous at one point or another. Things that have made me feel jealous recently include: a friend going on a trip abroad to somewhere I’ve been wanting to go, for ages… seeing people I know at an event that I wasn’t invited to… looking through the Instagram feed of someone whose home is a million times more beautiful (and tidy) than mine. It’s normal and natural – and according to Daisy, you shouldn’t shut down that feeling straight away, but explore why you’re feeling like that.
“I see jealousy as a sign that I need a bit more love in my life,” she says. “I try to slow down and stop chasing after achievements that will help me to prove I’m just as good as everyone else. Instead, I fill my time with big baths and long walks, and try to focus on the fact that I don’t need to do anything, I’m good enough if I exist just as I am.”
When I feel pangs of jealousy, I remind myself that just because someone else is doing well, it doesn’t have an actual real knock on effect to my life. It’s not like there’s a finite number of good opportunities or experiences in the world, and I won’t get my fair share if others get more.
So there you go – isn’t she wise? There’s a reason Daisy Buchanan is the agony aunt for Grazia magazine. How To Be A Grown Up is available now if, like me, you don’t feel like you’re that good at being a grown up, and fancy buying it.