In honour of my becoming seventeen years old on Saturday 3rd February, this post will be all about the things I have learned in my years of being alive so far. I thought it would only be right to do a classic ‘…Things I’ve Learned in … Years’ post, and I know every blogger/ YouTuber/ influencer on the face of the planet seems to have done this, but birthdays only come around once a year, right?! And it’s sort of an excuse for me to do some reflection too.
Disclaimer: My eyes look smaller than normal in these photos partly because I was being blinded by the sun, and also because I was feeling supremely ill. Yes, I could’ve stayed in but I was determined to get some blog photos because the weather was the nicest it had been in over two weeks.
1. Do not waste your life away.
I mean this in two ways. Firstly, as in avoiding procrastination and time-wasting activities. This includes, but is definitely not limited to excessive scrolling through social media which I have decided to cut down on in 2018. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that I want to constantly be working all the time. As John Lennon famously said, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not time wasted.” When I say this, I am talking about time that I know I’ll regret having wasted – so does not encompass time spent with friends and family… or playing Sims 4 when I have no work to do…
2. You reap what you sow.
It’s pretty self-explanatory but I’ve discovered this applies to every aspect of life beyond academics. I firmly believe this ideology is how I got 12A*s at GCSE, and how my blog did better than ever before last month; I posted consistently and worked hard on producing high-quality content and photos (higher quality than usual, at least!) But more importantly, friendships and relationships are only furthered through effort and dedication. What you put in is what you get out.
3. Stop taking yourself so seriously.
I used to once be the sort of person to worry about what people would think about me, and worry how what I said and did would influence their opinion of me. But now I’ve realised that most people really do not care. And that’s not a bad thing; in fact it’s a relief! More than that, it’s okay to make mistakes, and enjoying as much of your life as you can is more important than trying to be perfect.
4. Take chances.
This links back to my first point about not wasting your life away. Life is short, and you’ll regret spending it wishing to try something but not doing it because you’re afraid of failure, or worse, other people’s opinions of you. I’ve always wanted to start a blog but I was worried about what others might think. And yes, there might still be people out there who laugh at the fact that I document my experiences online, but this is a decision I am proud to have made. The people I have befriended and the confidence I have gained through this has made it more than worth it. The opportunities I’ve received are just a bonus!
5. Experiences > Possessions
Maybe this is just me, but I’d rather spend money on travel than on a piece of luxury clothing. You can’t put a value on the way experiences can make you feel, and each one is so unique, individual and personal to you. Going forward, I really hope to share more amazing experiences with my friends and family that I will remember and cherish forever.
6. Life is a learning process.
I am a bit of a perfectionist, but I’m slowly (but surely!) working on being less harsh on myself. As nice as it is to get things right the first time around, it is not the end of the world if you don’t. Everybody’s learning, and making mistakes is not such a bad thing.
7. Life is also unfair. Move on.
I recognise my privileges and am grateful for them, but at the end of the day, coming from an ethnic minority and being a Muslim girl comes with its fair share of being hated on from the more ignorant people in the population. Maybe I will go into more detail about this one day, but I’m sure you understand how the current political climate does not help people ‘like me’. And maybe there was a time where I would wonder what I had done to personally offend those people that hate and accuse, and take it to heart. But now? I put people’s intolerance down to their unfortunate inability to form their own views, and a sad lack of information. And then I move on.
8. Nobody is perfect, and nobody has a perfect life.
I think we all know this deep-down but when you’re having a rough day, it’s so easy to compare your life to someone else’s. I’ve learned that everybody has problems, but they come in different shapes and sizes. And social media is not an accurate proxy for gauging happiness or success. Many people only put the best bits of their life online and this isn’t done intentionally to make you feel bad! I try to stay as real as possible over on my Instagram stories but ultimately, my feed is only a minuscule snapshot of my life.
9. Let the success of others inspire you, not put you off.
And again, success is only defined by you. You really can’t compare your achievements to anyone else’s. If you have to, allow it to motivate you to work harder rather than intimidate you.
10. Not everyone will agree with you. And that’s okay.
People aren’t always going to agree with your opinions. Even your friends aren’t always going to agree with your opinions! And I’ve learned that it is just as important to listen to and value their views. Put yourself in their shoes and look at where they might be coming from. I’ve said this in the past, but I like to keep an open mind when talking to people as it really does enable me to see things from different perspectives and open my mind up to new ideas.
11. Struggle is an intrinsic part of life.
We all struggle in different ways, some of us more than others. True strength is persevering in the face of challenge rather than letting it defeat you. Again, social media is a terrible indicator of what people are going through and comparing your life to others’ isn’t going to make yours any better, nor is complaining.
12. Happiness is a choice.
I’ve heard this countless times but never really took it seriously, until I realised how true it is. We create our own happiness, and we have the power to choose who and what we prioritise in our lives. I know it may sound idealistic and naïve and I fully acknowledge that life isn’t always going to be perfect. But most of us are lucky in that we can choose whether we let our problems completely defeat us, or motivate us to work harder.
13. Stay true to yourself.
My personality is ultimately what makes me who I am. I’ve learned that it’s the one thing I have that nobody else has, and I should embrace it.
14. Other people’s opinions about you don’t matter.
I say this with caution, because if the majority of people say you’re doing something wrong, you probably are. However, if you are receiving negativity from only a few people out of hundreds, then the best thing you can do is ignore them. I’ve learned that you cannot make everyone happy, and you’ll only lose yourself in the process of doing so.
15. Set goals.
I’ve found setting goals helps me stay productive. Visualising myself achieving that goal helps motivate me to work hard. This year, I’m happy to say that I’ve actually found what works for me in terms of productivity and study!
16. Start each day with a positive mindset.
It is definitely a lot easier said than done, but I have discovered that when I start the day off with the intention of getting lots of work done, I end up being more productive, even if I don’t accomplish everything I had hoped to. I guess this comes back down to setting goals again, but waking up with a positive outlook really does help! There is no point in worrying about what happened yesterday or stressing about next week which leads me onto my last one…
17. Stay present.
Though this is only something that I began practising towards the start of this year, it makes a difference. I’m no mindfulness expert but I have learned that thinking that happiness is elsewhere – destination addiction – is a wholly unhealthy mindset to have. This is why I am making an active effort to focus on the present, and appreciating each moment as it passes.
There they are. Seventeen out of the many things I have learned over the past year. Thank you if you managed to get through that entire post – this is the longest blog post I’ve written to date! I hope your Monday got off to a good start, and that you have a stress-free, enjoyable week.