I’m *whispers it* 36. Which, to me, sounds ancient. How on earth I got to 36 when I feel like I only just left uni and started my career, I’ll never know. But as much as I sob a little at the thought of getting old, I am so much happier aged 36 than I was aged 22, when I had just graduated and was working in my first job. I was a ‘proper’ grown up and loved life, but now I look back, I can see there was so much I didn’t know. Here are some of them…
1. You really will feel better if you eat well and exercise – people who say this are right… who knew!
2. But being skinny won’t make you happy. Kate Moss says nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but she clearly hasn’t ever eaten an oozy fried egg sandwich with ketchup.
3. Be kind to your friends – life’s too short to play mind games. Meet up, drink wine, gossip. It’s one of the finest things in life.
4. But lose the ones that aren’t real friends. Anyone who is a bit toxic or even just doesn’t have your best interests at heart? Bin them. Life is definitely too short to spend time with those bozos.
5. It’s OK to enjoy staying in, rather than going out. Ahh cosy blanket, Netflix and glass of wine, how I love thee.
6. And when you do go out, it’s OK to suggest going somewhere ‘nice’ that isn’t rammed full of people, only leaving you enough space to hover by the bar.
7. Family is the most important thing – full stop. Call your mum, hang out with your in-laws, remember to send birthday cards, send small random gifts that show them you’re thinking of them.
8. But chances are, you only learn No.7 when you have your own child. It magnifies your need for that unconditional support and watching your own bond with your child grow makes you realise how important your bond is with your own family.
9. Having a child is utterly life-changing. Not just in a ‘dammit, I can’t go out as much anymore’ way, but in a re-evaluating your whole life and what actually matters way.
10. A cup of tea makes pretty much everything feel a lot better.
11. It’s totally worth spending a bit extra on a ‘nice’ wine. And you might even get less of a hangover from drinking it.
12. But hangovers get worse as you get older, and there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to stop this from happening. Just accept it and drink a bit less.
13. If someone is doing better than you, be happy for them. Jealousy and bitterness will just eat away at you, which is bad for you, but not that person who is doing really well.
14. Cleanse your skin properly before bed. I spent years not doing this, and my skin didn’t thank me for it. Liz Earle’s Cleanse and Polish is (as a lovely blogger I know put it) a total game changer.
15. Be kind to yourself. It’s easy to listen to those negative thoughts about your thighs or your ability to do your job well, but counteract them with thoughts about how kick-ass you are.
16. Stay on top of life admin. Paying bills, sorting your taxes, booking your car MOT – all boring but essential. Even if you give yourself one task a week and achieve it, you’ll feel better. And like you’re WINNING at being a grown up.
17. Tell ‘mum guilt’ to do one. As long as your child is loved, fed, clean, happy, you’re doing a good job.
18. But leave your phone at home from time to time. A day out with your family, where you actually can’t pull your phone out when a notification buzzes in your pocket, is a bloody lovely thing.
19. Getting properly measured for a bra is everything. Go to a shop that specialises in this, like Bravissimo, and it will transform your life. (Bet you go down in back-size and up in cup-size).
20. Work out what you want in life, what you need to do to make it happen, and go for it. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Just focus on your own goals and plan.
21. Find your perfect lipstick. It’s the quickest way to make you look and feel a gazillion times better. I spent years convinced I couldn’t wear lippy, but I was WRONG. Now, it’s all about Mac Lady Danger, for me.
22. Don’t be a dick. I saved the most important thing for last. It’s something Caitlin Moran spoke about last year, when talking about feminism, but it applies in every area of life. Just don’t be a dick. Tell yourself this, if you are ever tempted to do or say something dickish. I promise, it will help you massively.
What have you learned in life so far?