Today is my 30th birthday and I cannot believe I am saying goodbye to my 20’s. I really cannot. It feels a little surreal.
These last 10 years blessed me with euphoric moments and earth-shattering ones too, it also hit me with some serious life lessons.
I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for your 20’s. Your 20’s are your “discovery/harsh lessons” years and there is no way to bypass this. You’re gonna learn those lessons whether you want to or not. You’re also going to do a hell of a lot of growing, spiritually, emotionally and physically in my case.
I’ve been contemplating about writing this post for a while, but I’ve been holding myself back for reason I’ll explain in this post. The reasons, I have to admit, are shitty, but this has been on my mind for a while so here we go.
My 20’s were an emotional roller coaster ride that I was just not prepared for.
My early 20s were about discovering who I was as a person, which is where my blog name came from if you did not know. I was a mature university student so from the ages of 21 -24 I was in university, broke and slightly under the weather (although I had no idea at the time). I felt like a child as most of my friends were working full time and I was trying to scrounge coins together for my next meal, shout out to Iceland for keeping their prices low! By the age of 24, I think something just clicked and I realised I had to get myself right. I stopped eating as much (food was my emotional crutch) and I started to put more effort in blogging. In blogging, I found a place where I belonged, where I could be myself, I also found beauty and I rolled with it from there. I left university, returned home and after 2/3 months I was in full-time work. I loved feeling like an adult because in my eyes I was one. I felt grown and with that came confidence.
By this time I had lost quite a bit of weight, which was funny because I figured I needed to lose more, the compliments were rolling in and I had begun casually dating. No one could stop me or bring down my high. I loved myself, I loved my body and I was enjoying life! I look back at this time now and I truly believe all these things but I guess no one’s life is THAT perfect and maybe (most likely) I’m looking back with rose-tinted glasses, but from what I could remember, I wasn’t that unhappy.
This new adult me was in my prime!
I was confident in my abilities, in fact, I had always been confident in my abilities when it came to things that I was passionate about. I was passionate about radio previously and I was confident I was going to make it far if I worked hard and I believed the same for blogging. I didn’t have a specific goal as back in the day bloggers didn’t work with brands, we just blogged, but I knew I was going to keep at it and try and help people like me because that’s all I wanted from it.
Everything was going pretty well until around the age of 25.
At 25 I had entered into my first serious relationship, I had my first ever boyfriend (I was a serial dater) and I really liked him, we were friends for a long time before and we just decided to get to know each other a little better and it went from there.
I was not prepared for what came next.
I just want to be clear and say that we are both on good terms now and this is no way his fault but I feel like the relationship was a trigger, a fuse, that had been burning for a while that set off the course for the rest of my 20s.
It all started with the onset of anxiety. I’ve spoken about my anxiety before here but I guess this post will be a little bit more in depth. I had experienced anxiety before but never this bad and I couldn’t understand why, but in hindsight, this anxiety came from a place of overwhelming fear of rejection. I knew before we started dating that I was not like the typical kinda of girls he may like, I was goofy and silly and just me, I didn’t wear heels or makeup all the time. I was just me and I was scared as to how long it would take him to realise that I was just me.
As with anxiety this was all assumptions, I had never spoken to him about this or about much really, (I’m not great at communicating) but I had convinced myself this was the case, and as days went by I felt that I was slowly pushing him away and I felt that he kinda gave up after a while. We broke up 6 months later by my decision, a week later I asked for him back and he said no. My rejection had become real.
And there I wallowed, in rejection, which slowly eroded at my core and my self esteem and turned into depression.
It took me 4 years to realise that I was depressed and not just hurt from rejection.
Depression is a whole other entity in itself.
When I was younger people used to liken it to a dark cloud hovering over you at all times and I could never really understand that, now it makes complete sense.
In what seemed like a blink of an eye I went from being the happiest me I had ever been to a shell of my former self.
Once I had spoken to my doctor and I knew what was happening I tried to get better as I was exhausted by all of these negative and self-destructive emotions. Just EXHAUSTED. I was unhappy, overweight, void of all self-esteem and low in all confidence.
And that’s where I have been ever since. Trying to get better. In some ways, trying to get back to my former self but in the back of my mind I know that will never happen, how can it? So much has happened since then.
Whilst I don’t want this to be an “advice to all” post, I am aware of the lessons I should have learnt from my 20s, I’m not saying I’ve learnt all of them, of any of them, in fact, but I’m aware of what affected me and why and I want to share them with you guys today, so, what did I learn, what did I experience?
You’ll realise that you need to work on yourself, every day for the rest of your life and I don’t mean just physically, although your physical health is very important as well, but mentally. You need to make sure that you are number one, that you treat your mind and your body with the utmost respect. Think good thoughts always, this is easier said than done, so affirmations are a great way to help with this. There are some gems in the App Store including, ThinkUp and Affirmations. Stick to these and use them daily. Food is amazing, believe me, I know but don’t overeat all the time. If you are overeating constantly it may be because you’re trying to deal with something. You need to figure out what that is and try to deal with that either with help from friends or professionals. In your 20s treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Too many of us, myself included, treat ourselves so badly, it’s almost normal to me, but believe me, if you believe in your personal slay make sure you treat yourself right, the world will follow afterwards because let’s face it, we all love someone with abundant self-confidence, especially in this day an age!
Social media is not healthy, in fact, it’s one of the unhealthiest things I know, especially Twitter and Instagram, so limit your time. As a blogger to be “successful” they will tell you it’s a numbers game, that your Instagram feed has to look a certain way, that you should post several times a day, edit EVERYTHING and wait for the “likes” and RT’s to come rolling in. What they don’t talk about is how time consuming and soul destroying it is. You’ll notice that some of your old time favs post less on social media, now you know why. For bloggers, social media is a must and I LOVE the community aspect of it and giving advice if anyone asks any questions but social media is not real to me. Your fav fashionistas take all their different outfit shots in one day, changing into different outfits anywhere they can if the shots are outside. Even when I post a pic I’m normally wearing more makeup than I’m comfortable with and out of the 500 pictures I’ve taken I’ve deleted 492 because my face looked too round but the joke is my face is round anyway! The amount of work that goes into one picture is stupefying and in no way does it reflect “reality” not for us blogger at least. What I’m trying to say is don’t get caught up in the likes and follows, living your actual life is much more exciting and fulfilling, believe me, and if you do get caught up take a break or just get rid of it! Twitter makes me laugh but it’s full of some many people giving such bad advice, telling you how you MUST live your life and I find that sort of pressure incredible, so I’ve deactivated it with a view to deleting my account altogether. I don’t need it THAT bad.
Actions speak much louder than words when it comes to friends and family. I’ve learnt that friends can become family and family is nowhere near perfect but I’ve also learnt that if someone truly cares you’ll see it through their actions. I’ve kept a lot of people around believing that we are still “friends” but looking from the outside in I can see that’s not the case. Can I talk to you if I’m having one of my debilitating days? Can you help me take my mind off what I cannot see past? Have you supported me and my dreams and visions? If the answer is no, then we are not friends.I have the hardest time with friendship. I tend to isolate myself a lot but I also tend to hold on to the ones who I’ve felt “loyalty” for even though I get nothing out of that friendship. I’m now slowing learning the power of having real friends and honestly, I could count them on one hand. In my 20’s I lost people who once meant the world to me because after a while I realised they were just wasting my time and I didn’t get anything out of that relationship anymore – it was played out. It’s OK to step away from this or not invest as much time. You don’t need to cut people off but you do need to start really honing in who makes the effort and who doesn’t and take it from there. I’ve also learnt the same for myself, I’m vowing to give more time to the people who are really there for me instead of pushing them away. I’m still trying to grasp the fact that family is not perfect but for now, my small extended family is all I need.
Near all of my friends are either married, parents, out of the house or in committed relationships. I am none of these things and I am feeling it pretty hard but it’s important to remember there are no time limits to life and so I need to stop beating myself up about it. One thing I feel very strongly about is being seen as an adult instead of a child and I feel not being in a committed relationship or still living at home sometimes makes me feel like I’m nowhere near being an adult, but there are no time limits here. Who am I racing against? I started my adult life technically at 24 so I’ve always been a little behind but I guess I’m just a unique case. I’m working towards my goals of moving out and improving my own self-esteem before getting into a relationship so there’s nothing wrong with where I am at the moment. Looking at others will make you feel like you’re doing something wrong in life when you’re simply just living and there’s nothing wrong with that. I legally became an adult at 18, so why I beat myself up about what other people think of me is beyond me. At the age of 29, I’m learning to live my own life at my own pace. My main goal is to get there and the one thing I love about running my own race is setting, planning and achieving my own goals! Whilst I may not be able to afford a house (thanks London!) I can still look into getting out of the family home and making it own my own and that kinda excites me!
My self-esteem took a complete blow in my late 20s and to be perfectly honest I have little left. I don’t like going out anymore, I rarely wear makeup (only in the house) and I find it hard to step out of my comfort zone for fear of failure. Whilst I film YouTube videos and I’m on socials I feel that’s the part of me that knows this is what I have to do for blogging. Tied into my first point, self-esteem is like your mental health. You have to work at it. I assumed I would always have great self-esteem but that’s the not the case. You have to work at it as with anything else because life with low self-esteem is grey and flat. You’ll never step out of your comfort zone with low self-esteem so you’ll never know what you’re capable of. I’ve really held myself back from all the accomplishments I could have gained if I believed in myself like I did when I was in my early 20, which I’m sad about but this is a life lesson to take with me into 30. I cut back on writing and developing my writing style because I felt I wrote too colloquially to be taken seriously – I still do feel this way. I have avoided any serious relationships because how can you love someone else when you can barely love yourself? I dress in oversized clothes because I think people are looking at how big my stomach and arms are. Having good self-esteem and I meant actual good self-esteem, not self-esteem placed in others (ahem men) like I used to have, is a doorway to so many possibilities, so many life-changing ways of living. Once you love yourself, keep at it and use that feeling to work towards your best life.
One of the last life lessons I learnt in my 20s is that even in the bad times you are never alone, there are more people going through what you’re going through, knowing how you feel or who just want you to talk to them because they care, people closer than you think. Now, I’m not saying spill your business every day on social media but if you feel comfortable reach out, hang out, enjoy moments together, create memories – connect. I think with social media and technology we may feel like we’re connecting but I think there’s nothing better than really connecting in person with good people and there are good people out there! I promise!
This read may seem less sunny than normal and that was not my intention but I guess that’s just where my head is at right now. If this brought you down a little bit (I’m sorry) here’s a really inspirational sermon by one of my favourites which is helping me to move on with a more positive deposition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4II6bURtH8.
One thing I’ve always wanted from my blog (even more so in this new decade) is honesty, transparency, and more hard-hitting subjects. I’ve always been too scared to write lengthier posts as I’m really self-conscious about my writing style, call it informal if you will but who cares you know? This was cathartic and I kinda feel better for it!
It may not seem like it but there were glimmers of happiness here and there, my trip to the Dominican Republic , going to New York for the first time ever solo, experiencing love, making new friends, getting a new job, writing for Yahoo UK and ELLE UK, working with IMAN Cosmetics, meeting the Girls On The Ground, I could go on. I have been blessed and I try to remember this all the time.
Let’s see what this new decade has to bring.
Thanks for sharing Natalie. This post really was so relatable especially as I am going to be 29 soon.
Great piece xx
Thank you for this. It was so authentic and exactly what I needed.
Excellent post. I wouldn’t worry about your “colloquial” writing style. That’s YOUR writing style. That’s whT makes it yours and different. Writing courses for blogs are Lways saying to write informally like the way we speak.
Great post Nat. Really nice to hear people speaking from the heart. Keep up the good work and stay true to yourself. Love your blog! Kay. X
I like your writing Nat ❤ maybe tgis is the right career path for you… xx
Wow, what a courageous and beautiful post Natalie.
I honestly felt alone regarding, what i’m going through in life, graduating later at 24 (this year), issues with making and keeping friends, not feeling like an ‘adult’, weight and overeating, lack of self esteem, anxiety etc. but clearly, you are right no one is ever alone, there is always someone fighting problems similar to yours. And posting this the day before my birthday (which was grim) has really put things into perspective regarding ‘moving at your own pace’ and working on ones self.
Thank you for this inspirational post, you have clearly pushed through and are doing amazing things with your life. I wish you all the best for the future years to come. xx