As my younger siblings LOVE to remind me, I’m 26. Twenty. Six. I’m not sure how that happened but apparently I now fall into the category of Real Adult even though I rarely ever feel like one and regularly spend my weekends playing Pokemon GO, Pokemon Moon or Maplestory.
Sometimes, I play all three. At the grand age of 26 however, I DO have a roster of excellent tales to tell of my adulting attempts: you know, when you feel like an absolute boss only to fall at many hurdles and somehow clamber your way back up and hit your goal via the scenic route. The very scenic route.
I’m the eldest of three siblings and so I take on the obligatory role of tryer-outer. I try things once (or twice) so the other two can theoretically learn from my mistakes and theoretically live easier and more successful lives. So, when dishing out advice to my younger sister – she’s just graduated University, it was that talk – the other day, it got me thinking about the things I’ve learned from my many adulting attempts and I thought I’d share some gems with you. Early twenties’ mishaps, questions you’re too scared to ask and everything in between, here goes…
Moisturise and drink water like your life depends on it
It’s often discredited as an old wives’ tale but water is the juice of the gods (or something else to that effect but that actually sounds appealing). While I certainly don’t get my 8 glasses/2 litres a day, I always notice a huge difference to my skin, my productivity, my mood and general wellbeing after a few bottles of water. I rely heavily on my Bobble to get my intake of water because tap water freaks me out but the carbon filter eases my mind a little. Plus it allows me to measure how much water I’ve had.
Make huge dinners (because they will be your lunch too!)
I don’t think anybody is *great* at portion control but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my adulting attempts, it’s to make big dinners and save some for lunch, thus reducing fresh food wastage and saving you a few pounds at lunch. I can’t even begin to explain to you how much money I saved once I’d got my ‘OMG I WORK IN LONDON’ spending out of the way and replaced You Me Sushi, Pret and Wasabi lunches with leftovers from dinner. If you’re brave enough, sit down and calculate how much you spend on lunch per day, week and month. Add in your daily coffee and tea buying. Yep. Get on that food shop, girl.
Always carry around a scarf
Hear me out on this one because it sounds a little mad but I promise it’ll change your life. Carry a scarf with you because it is so damn versatile. Dirty seat? Sit on it. Air-con wars in the office? Wrap that shit around you ten times. Period arrived and you didn’t catch it in time? Make-shift sarong time. Living in Hong Kong taught me that a scarf is your best worst enemy in the humidity and air-con balancing game. It’s also excellent for using as a pillow/face hider on train naps and commuting snoozes.
The unplanned is the best plan
When I left Uni at 21, my plan was no plan.
I had a 6-month internship lined up that unfortunately ended prematurely when the company founders went on a sabbatical and the next thing I knew, I’d been recommended by a past lecturer to freelance for a company. The rest is history. Sometimes – oftentimes – having no plan is better than road-mapping your entire twenties, which, for me, has been the greatest decade ever. My no-plan took me to apply for a single job in Hong Kong in a jet lagged state, only to get that job and find myself moving across the country a month later for 2 years. Truly, anything is possible and your path is much different from everybody else’s.
Always keep a little stash of savings
I read once somewhere that you should always have 3 months’ worth of your salary saved up for a rainy day. I scoffed at this and thought, ‘that’s my Chanel fund’, but then, I ended up moving to Hong Kong and that 3 months’ worth of salary paid for my new furniture, appliances and other moving expenses. I saved that back up and then ended up having to fork out for a new air-con machine a few months down the line. And then, I had to delve into it for an emergency flight home when my Granny passed away. However boring saving 3 months’ worth of your salary (at the very least) sounds, I guarantee you won’t regret having that extra bank of money – just in case.
Mortgages aren’t really that scary
Don’t we all wish they taught us about mortgages and council tax and P45’s and the rest of it in school instead of Pythagoras theorum and other such things? I took matters into my own hands last year, booked a meeting with an advisor at NatWest and asked how a mortgage worked. And it wasn’t scary. The meeting or the mortgage. If one of the niggling things in your mind is a mortgage, please call your bank and arrange a meeting because it isn’t scary at all and becoming a homeowner is very achievable despite what the media might say. Be as honest as you can about your incomings and outgoings and I promise they’ll steer you in the right direction.
The best things come to those that wait
Did you know? I met my boyfriend when I was 17. I told one of my friends I thought I liked him and then never did anything about it. And last year, we got together and the rest is history. In between that, I dated a guy that liked to sit outside my apartment for hours at a time, a guy that spoke about 10 words to me in a 3-hour date, a guy that ghosted me for 7 months, a guy that sat next to me in a bar with another girl… The best things come to those that wait. Your King will arrive one day and blow all of the frogs and face-value Prince Charmings right out of the water.
Travel as much as you can afford to
Whilst travelling is of course a luxury, I wholeheartedly believe that it’s the best thing you can invest your money in. Seeing the world outside of their photos on Instagram and Google is absolutely priceless, as is immersing yourself in the richness of another’s culture and lifestyle. I find it so rewarding to sample another country’s way of living and put myself in somebody else’s shoes, if only for a week. Plus, you’ll feel pretty great when you finally nail the local transport! (FYI the most difficult public transport system I’ve tried is Japan’s JR…)
Nothing is worth the burn out
Absolutely nothing. Don’t forget to make use of those valuable holidays you get with work and if you’re not yet there, don’t forget to make full use of your time with dedicated days off. If you’re feeling a little frazzled, then acknowledge that, whether by taking a tea break or by booking a day off work to spend at home. For so long, I thought adulthood meant ‘being insanely tired all the time’ when it actually means ‘freedom to live how you wish’. Even though it might be scary to take a days’ leave to do nothing at all, your body is the most precious thing and even that will start shutting down given enough stress.
Take advice from others with a pinch of salt
Us millennials love a good advice post. Whether it’s a blog post, Buzzfeed article or a lengthy sesh with well-meaning family members, we’re being thrown advice left, right and centre and it isn’t always beneficial to us. My thoughts? Take it all with a pinch of salt, even this post that you’re reading. Nobody like unsolicited advice, do they? Again, what’s great for one person may not be for you. I can’t even count the number of times that I was told at University that my blog was ridiculous and that I’d never make it as a writer. But here I am! Everybody’s path and how they forge it is different and it’s so important to remember that.
What are some of the life lessons you’d give to a younger sibling/mate in need?
Photos by Kaye Ford.