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  • Emma Rose Collingridge

21 Things I've Learned In 21 Years

Well, it’s been a hot minute since I last updated this blog but with my twenty-second birthday fast approaching (and you better believe I have the cliché Taylor Swift caption at the ready!) it only seems fitting that I reflect on all that the past year has taught me.

It’s been quite the whirlwind of a year: deciding to take a year’s break from university to escape a toxic environment, losing fake friends and gaining real ones, taking on my first solo adventure by flying to the other side of the world for two months(!), losing a truly special family member, and being stuck at home with my inner demons amidst a pandemic, all whilst still trying to figure out what the hell it is that I want to do with my life.

So, in case anyone out there reading this needs a little bit of guidance or for younger readers wanting a little insight into the years to come, here are some of things I’ve learned during my twenty one years on this planet (in no particular order):

1. It’s okay not to have it all figured out. Damn, I wish someone would have told me this sooner! There is so much pressure these days to have your entire life planned out. I remember crying the moment the clock struck midnight signalling my 20th birthday as I had it in my head that I was meant to have had everything figured out by then. In reality, I had never felt more confused and lost in my life during that period of no longer being a teenager but also not really being a proper adult either. It's important to remember that there is no timetable to life. Everyone reaches different milestones in life at different stages. Already I have discovered that your twenties are the decade of self-discovery.

2. Some bridges are meant to be crossed; others should be burned. Remove toxic people from your life. Life is too short to spend time on people who aren’t good to you.

3. Peoples actions towards you are, more often than not, a reflection of their own insecurities and not of your character.

4. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable doesn’t make you weak. Vulnerability allows you to go back to the roots of who you are and can be turned into your greatest strength.

5. Everything happens for a reason - the struggles you face today gives you the strength to face tomorrow. The universe will test you but only to make you realise your inner strength. Rock bottom is not the end, as hard as it may seem at the time it’s all for a reason and it will lead to greater things.

6. Don’t let anyone put you down for being you. All those little quirks make you special and an original is always better than a copy! In case you need a little reminder - you are enough, more than enough.

7. Sometimes you really do have to put yourself first and know that you will never please everyone.

8. Never be ashamed to ask for help when you need it, you don't have to muddle through alone.

9. Solo travel is one of the greatest things you could ever do for yourself. Read more about what you can learn if you take the leap of faith here

10. Know your worth and never sell yourself short, ever.

11. Self love is so important - do at least one thing everyday for you. Listen to your inner voice. Some days will be all about moving mountains and chasing those dreams, others know that simply putting one foot in front of other to get through the day is enough. Love yourself before you love anyone else.

12. Look to the past to serve as a lesson and to see how far you’ve come, but don’t let yourself crawl back there. In particular, forgive yourself for whatever mistake or embarrassing moment slowly eats away every time you think about it. It happened. Learn from it, then forget about it and move forward.

13. As much as it's important to save money, you can treat yourself once in a while and not feel guilty about it.

14. Distance is the greatest test of any relationship.

15. Appreciate the little things in life and live for moments that make your heart smile more than your face ever could.

16. Trust your intuition, it’s usually always right.

17. When you want to feel everything and nothing at the same time. escape time through music.

18. Grief is one of the hardest emotions you will ever face and one of the most painful you’ll ever feel. Everyone grieves differently, take all the time you need. Exercise and music are great for releasing built up emotions.

19. Love and look after your body, you only have one and it's capable of amazing things if you let it.

20. Switch off every once in a while. From the TV, from social media, step away from your phone and from your laptop and take some time for yourself to breathe and refocus your energy.

21. When the world seems like an increasingly dark place and you're struggling to see a way through, remember what you stand for. What do you want to be remembered for? Use this to drive you forward.

As chapter 22 begins, it will be interesting to look back on this list in a years time to see which I should have listened to more deeply and what else I feel needs to be added. What are some of the greatest lessons you have learnt thus far in life?

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