Wednesday, 8 August 2018

20 Things I learnt During The First Year of My Twenties

HOORAY! This post going live means today is my 21st birthday and I'm so ridiculously excited about it. It's become a bit of a tradition over the years that I share an annual post on my birthday looking back over that year and reflecting on the challenges as well as the happy times that have come along with it, and this years feels all the more special as it focuses on the first year of my twenties! I honestly cannot believe that a year has passed since I was last writing a post like this because it truly feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye and definitely makes me a little concerned for fitting in all the things I want to achieve this year too.

Time is a funny old thing and along with my anxiety, often makes me feel super stressed that I'm not packing enough into my youth, that I'm not where I should be with my career and blog, and that time is simply running away with me without any control. I'm making it my mission for my time as a 21 year old to stop obsessing over the things I can't control, and work on packing as much fun and laughter into this year as possible so that I can confidently look back and say I've made the most of this period of my life.

So without further ado, here are 20 things I learnt whilst being 20 ....

- 1 - 
Love is the single hardest yet most rewarding journey, and the end destination often makes the ups and downs along the way worthwhile. I've been in a long distance relationship now for almost 3 and a half years and have been open about the struggles of this, particularly during the recent and slightly rocky past couple of months. This year I've learnt the importance of putting yourself and your needs first, but also the importance of second chances and knowing when something is worth the fight. Relationships aren't always a walk in the park, but if anything has been gleaned from this year of my twenties it's that living in the moment and what feels most right at the time is all you can really do!

- 2 -
My love for falafels, hummus and olives never ceases to amaze me and has grown steadily during my twenties so far. DELISH CHICKPEA BASED FOOD, I HEART YOU.

- 3 -
Physical health is just as important as mental health. This is a phrase often said the opposing way around, but following years of prioritising my anxiety, eating disorder and periods of low mood, I'm only now realising the importance of managing and focusing upon positive physical health. I've struggled with unknown intolerances and IBS for around 3 years now (something that I could write a whole blog post about if you fancy?) and this year has been the first that I'm making a serious effort to tackle it. I'm not quite there yet when it comes to a solution, but actually tackling the problem and overcoming my health anxiety surrounding it has been such a huge step in the right direction!

- 4 - 
ASOS Premier has once again been a huge part of my happiness for yet another year, and after a small lapse in my subscription, I'm admitting defeat and accepting next day delivery for my fave ASOS garms is just a way of life I'm not willing to sacrifice! 

- 5 - 
Interning is hard. 10 months of my year as a 20 year old were consumed by interning in the worlds of fashion and beauty, working out where I saw myself as a fashion graduate, and overcoming the inevitable challenges that come with working unpaid. The biggest lessons of all from my time being 20 have been related to these experiences, and I'm beyond grateful for how much I've grown as a person during this time. I've learnt the importance of standing up for myself, knowing the difference between invaluable experience and being able to say no, but most importantly, I've come to realise the significance that a supportive, kind and exciting company can have on my mental health and wellbeing. Once I graduate I'm hoping to continue this journey of self care and workplace respect by finding a full time role I truly love! 

- 6 -
Social media detoxing is HARD, especially when your job requires you to be up to date on all things Twitter memes and influencer activity, but every once in a while a little detox of all things internet can make the world of difference for clearing any head fog and anxiety. It's nothing revolutionary, but in my old (lol) age, I feel as though I've truly recognised the importance of living offline more and prioritising the memories that I make with loved ones. I'm still a sucker for a boomerang and spend a lot of my time binging Instagram stories, but I'm also remembering to take everything I see online with a pinch of salt.

- 7 - 
Eating in restaurants, whether that be for brunch, lunch or dinner brings me ALL THE JOY. This is always something that has been the case, however it's only been during recent years that I've fully been able to enjoy the freedom of going out for a meal and ordering anything I want. I made a promise to myself that during my 20s I would live a life that was as  unapologetic and carefree as possible, especially in regards to my mental health, and over the past 12 months I truly feel that I've succeeded in that when it comes to food. I'm not yet living a life without disordered eating, but my gosh does it feel good to be so much closer to it than I have been in previous years!

- 8 - 
Live music is even more joyous when you can live the experience multiple times and Harry Styles really is THE ONE. During my 12 months being 20 I've been so fortunate to be able to see my one true love Mr Styles a total of 3 times, with each experience becoming all the more magical. Whilst live music, especially for artists as big as Harry is unbearably expensive, I've lived this year with the mindset that I would so much rather have less £££ in my savings if it means I can truly live my best life seeing my favourite music life and treasuring every moment of the whole experience. Here's to hopefully many more years of seeing my fave guy on stage, killing it in custom Gucci!

- 9 - 
Using your voice for good and standing up for what you believe in can only ever lead to positive consequences. Back in November 2017 I shared a response I'd given to a diet shake company who repeatedly emailed me asking to promote their products, despite my history with an eating disorder and passion for encouraging carefree and intuitive attitudes to eating. The tweet gained so much attention that I was featured on the likes of Teen Vogue, Elle, Refinery29, Metro, Mashable, LA News and more and I've not felt as proud of myself or my determination to stand up for what I believed in for such a long time. Not only was it amazing moment to see my name on websites that I take such pleasure in reading on the daily, it sparked so many conversations with others surrounding the topic that I still feel amazed to this day of the scale the story had. The moral of the story: using your voice to challenge, express opinions, debate and empower is beyond valuable.

- 10 - 
The Oxford Circus Topshop is forever a dangerous place and I should not be allowed entry when feeling spendy. I just cannot get enough of a whole FLOOR dedicated to accessories ?? Plus a cafe, cupcake stand and hair salon ?? I adore it.

- 11 - 
Acne. Why oh why. This year has been largely dominated by my terrible skin and it's oh so stubborn ways, and to be honest I'll be so overjoyed if next years birthday blog post can celebrate a year of clear skin and confidence- a girl can dream. Whilst I've shared the endless struggles with my lack of self confidence when battling cystic acne, I've also tried to focus upon the fact that my skin does not define me and should never take centre stage on the full reflection of how I see myself. My first dermatologist appointment is booked in for mid November, and I can't wait to *fingers crossed* close this chapter of low confidence and swap it out for sassy, self lovin' Char. 

- 12 - 
Long distance friendships are often as mentally draining and challenging as long distance relationships, but if you can succeed at one, you can take on them all. Moving to London in May 2017 meant I had to say goodbye to Ruby, my best friend from university who has stayed living up North (and sidenote: is absolutely SMASHING graduate life!) as well as further still from my at home friends who returned to our home of Cambridge for the summer. I'm never the best when it comes to texting and speaking digitally, but I've really recognised the importance of making an effort to keep your close friends up to date with your life (both the good and the bad) to keep your friendship stronger than ever. Nowadays it's such a treat when I get to see my favourite ladies and makes our adventures and catch ups all the more special. Hopefully this next year will see us get to create some even more amazing IRL memories together.

- 13 - 
Clubbing and nights out aren't actually as scary as I thought?? I've spent so much of my later teen years dominated by the idea that nights out weren't for me thanks to anxiety and body image woes, but in recent months I've really come to realise just how much a boogie with your friends and a couple of vodka lemonades can do to help the soul. I'm so keen to make the most of my twenties now and party my little heart out, because if you can't drink cheap but extremely delicious Wetherspoons pitchers to your hearts content in your 20s then when can you, eh?! 

- 14 - 
I have fully become a water obsessive. A '2L a day and no less' kinda gal, and I'm actually really digging it. Since investing in a reusable bottle last year from TKMaxx (WOW I sound lame) I can seriously notice a difference in my mood and mental wellbeing when I'm dehydrated vs when I'm a hydrated queen. Whilst it's not done much in the way of helping my skin (damn you every media outlet ever that told me it was the cure to everything) I do feel so much more fresh when I take care of my body by staying hydrated- something I'm happy to wholeheartedly rave about, reusable bottle in hand. 

- 15 - 
Spontaneous plans are often the best kind of plans and making the most of every spare moment to see friends, socialise and get out of the house is always worthwhile. I often beat myself up about not having enough plans in my diary, either due to friends being away, lack of money or clashing schedules, but this year I've come to realise just how important it is to send that "is anyone free?" messages and seize the moment. Board game evenings, movie nights and even walking for a drink in a pub garden are the little things in life that just make me beyond happy.

- 16 - 
Reading is SO good for the soul and it's only when I pick up a book again that I realise how lacking my life is without it. In 2018 I decided to try and read at least 1 book per month, and so far I'm fairly on track for succeeding! It's made me realise that there will never be enough time to read all of the incredible novels in the world (not helped by my extremely slow reading pace) but I'm going to give it my best shot to pack in as many thought provoking and emotion wrenching stories as possible! Recommendations always welcome! 

- 17 - 
I AM A TRUE SUMMER BABY AND I ADORE THE SUNSHINE. I've always known that summer was my favourite season, with long nights, Pimm's, beach trips and camping culminating to create the happiest of vibes, but the past few months have cemented for me the true impact that warmer weather has on my mood. From my trip to Greece in June in which I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the hot weather (v proud of myself for succeeding in not melting into a puddle on the floor) to the glorious weeks of sunshine we've had in the UK, this summer has made me just the happiest version of myself.

- 18 - 
I am a crazy plant lady and if I could fill my home with any more beautiful succulents, cacti or fresh flowers then I absolutely would. My love for peonies, sunflowers and cheese plants knows no bounds.

- 19 - 
Sometimes the only way to overcome anxiety is to literally jump right into the situations that make you feel the most uncomfortable, scared and all round GROSS for there to be any gain in your happiness or life fulfilment. This year I've interned at places I've previously only dreamt of, spent a year living in London alone, travelled to Edinburgh with friends for New Year's Eve, been on an airplane TWICE, booked festival tickets and more that I've always thought were things so out of reach for me. The reward has been so much greater than the inevitable anxiety I felt beforehand and I can't wait to channel this attitude for the rest of my 20s too.

- 20 - 
And finally, life is hard but good. A simple phrase but one my dad always reminds me of when things are tough. It was something the vicar who married my parents told them, and something my dad has since instilled in me whenever I'm struggling mentally or battling big life decisions. It helps keep me grounded and reminds me that whatever I'm going through I will absolutely come out of the other side a stronger and better person, and helps me ~try~ and challenge my emotions when it feels like things are getting too much. I guess it's all the more special knowing it's something my dad and I tell each other, but its simple meaning is one I feel like we can all learn so much from. 

I really hope you've enjoyed this annual post as much as last years! As always I've loved putting it together and also ADORE the photos I shot with the lovely Lily last month too- she's a real life camera wizard!

As you're reading this I'll probably be sipping cocktails or celebrating with my nearest and dearest and I truly can't wait! I hope you're all having a fabulous day too- have a drink on me! ;)
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