20 Things I've Learnt In My Twenties

Today I turned 29 and as I sit here munching on caterpillar cake (never going to be too old for that) I can't help but wonder where the last decade has gone. I've always found the 20-30 age bracket pretty confusing. On one hand you're an actual, proper adult who is supposed to be laying the foundations for your future but on the other you're encouraged to be reckless and experimental and free...before you get too old?! Everyday I see people I went to school with buying houses, getting married and having babies. Some are on their third or fourth (baby not marriage). But equally there seem to be a lot who are still travelling, partying and trying to decide what they want to be when they grow up. Is it possible to fit into both of those categories? I think I might.

For me, it has been a monumentally life changing time. I started my twenties as a student living in Nottingham where my life basically revolved around daytime TV, cheap cider, obscure Indie music and dysfunctional relationships with mean boys. As much as I look back on that stage of my life with fondness (it was bloody good fun) I can acknowledge that I was a bit of a trainwreck; I made bad choices, I was pretty annoying and I wasn't always very kind to myself or others.

These days I'm a bit nicer, a bit calmer and I drink wine instead of White Storm. Oh, and I have a child. Something as monumental as motherhood kind of forces a shift in your personality and my outlook on life has also changed and evolved over the past decade. I've learnt a lot during my twenties and what better time to reflect on those lessons than today - as I go into my final year as a twenty-something.

Your mum is your best friend
At some point during my twenties I stopped seeing my mother as an authoritative figure put on earth purely to harsh my mellow and started seeing her as an equal. This may have coincided with the point at which I became a mum myself. We don't always see eye to eye but my mum is undoubtedly the best friend I'll ever have.

Be yourself
You're not in school anymore. You don't have to pretend to be something you're not just to fit in. Embrace your weirdness. Speak your mind. Wear what you like. And don't be afraid to be different.

Don't be afraid of being alone
Don't stay in bad relationships just because you're scared of being alone. That's stupid and a complete waste of life. Splitting up with my long term partner (and becoming a single mum in the process) was a daunting thing to go through in my twenties. But it was 100% the right thing to do and I actually quite enjoyed my time alone.

I visited some pretty cool places during my twenties. I drank margaritas on Hollywood Blvd and accidentally ended up at mass with the Pope in Rome. But I wish I had traveled more. I'm a firm believer in investing in experiences rather than material things but it's hard to just up and go when you have kids and commitments. So see the world while you can.

Don't compare
Success is subjective so there's no point comparing your life to others and thinking how much better than you they're doing. They could be looking at you and wanting the things that you have.

The world doesn't owe you anything
If you want something you have to work for it. Hard. As you're growing up opportunities tend to fall into your lap and life is mapped out for you through school, college and university (if you go down that route). After that it's up to you to take charge and make good things happen.

Follow your dreams (even if you need to take a diversion)
I always wanted to be a writer - more specifically a high flying, cosmopolitan columnist ala Carrie Bradshaw. When I found out I was pregnant it seemed like this dream was over. I was stuck in a dead end town with very few job prospects in the field that I was interested in. But I didn't give up. Now, as well as my 'day job' and as well as being a mum, I write on a freelance basis from home. And while I certainly don't earn megabucks from it, I do get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that, despite obstacles, I still managed to (kind of) achieve what I wanted.

Happiness comes in insignificant moments
Don't look too hard for happiness. The best moments are often found in the mundane and insignificant. Like crunching leaves in the park with a special little boy.

Nobody cares
Sounds pretty depressing at a glance but with the exception of close friends and family, nobody really cares what you're doing with your life. As youngsters we're pretty egocentric creatures but the realisation that the world didn't revolve around me hit me at some point during my twenties and it was quite a liberating feeling.

Staying in is the new going out
Turns out it's actually quite nice to stay in with Saturday night TV, a roaring fire and joggers rather than being shoulder barged in a sweaty nightclub as you queue for an overpriced Jagerbomb. Who knew?!

Look after your body
You only get one body. So look after it. That means eating well, exercising and going for those dreaded smear tests.

The same applies to your face. You only get one. So moisturize and NEVER go to bed with your eye make up still on. Oh haaaiiii pinkeye.

Bag a keeper
If you're lucky enough to find someone who doesn't just love you, but loves your son too then cling onto them for dear life. It takes a special person to do that. You, my dear, have hit the jackpot.

Fear of missing out
FOMO is dumb. I remember forcing myself to go out one Christmas Eve despite having tonsillitis just because EVERYONE WAS OUT and there was no way I was missing it. I felt dreadful and had the worst time. Why did I not just stay in bed?!

As you get older your friendship circle might drift apart or disband entirely. But the friends that stick around throughout your twenties are likely to be friends for life. Love them hard.

Eat well
I've learnt from experience that you can only abuse your body with a diet of cheese slice toasties and chicken balls for so long before it starts to rebel with intolerances and general feelings of grottiness. I've started making a conscious effort to include more fresh fruit and veg into my diet and I genuinely feel so much better.

But eat cake
You can eat well without cutting out every single little pleasure. No matter how old I am, I will always believe that life is too short not to eat cake.

Don't drink until you cry
When you're upset about something, don't go out and drink two bottles of cheap Rose. You will cry to strangers in the toilets about how shit your life is and end up humiliated as well as miserable. There are better ways to deal with your problems.

Stop crankin' dat
Heads up: the closer you get to 30, the less acceptable it becomes to 'crank dat' to Soulja Boi. You look less funky fresh and more loony Laura. Plus people have iPhones now. You will be videoed. Please stop.

Being a mum is the best
Above all else, being a mum is the best thing you will ever do. It will be hard. You will doubt yourself. Your life will change beyond recognition and some days...you might not always think it's for the best. But never forget how utterly blessed you are. Your twenties are his baby/toddler years and you will never get them back. Embrace them and be grateful everyday.

Time for the Bake Off final! Now...where's that caterpillar cake?


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