So turns out I have lots of things to say. Gird your loins, then, as going forward I’m planning on proverbially chewing your ear off in a weekly post I’m imperiously naming The Column. It may well be as wanky as it sounds but I’m doing it anyway. Leap before you look, right? Now that I am a full week and a half into Proper Adulthood, I feel that I’m equipped to share such profound life lessons with you. Doing things without having remotely thought about the consequences is just the tip of the iceberg, kids…
1. Find a mentor
Or if that seems like too specific, and tricky, a goal – like me suggesting you locate the Lost City of Atlantis by 2pm tomorrow (it’s next to the Pret on Kentish Town Road if that helps at all), then at least surround yourself with inspiring people. People you look up to, who will lift you up, energise you and fill you with zest for life and determination. People who, when you’re 40, you’ll still look to and say ‘I want to be like that when I grow up.” Rumi once wrote, ‘Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.’ Basically: ‘llow the haters, the wastemen and the bitchy, fake friends. There are too many of life’s good people out there.
2. Don’t waste your time on things you know aren’t right.
Your instinct is a powerful tool. Sometimes, when you know, you just know. The worst thing I’ve ever done is clung onto people/ places/ things that I knew in my heart weren’t working out for me. The truth can be a scary, and often lonely, place sometimes, but not giving yourself a fighting chance of being happier in the end is far scarier. Life’s short – too short to pretend, that’s for damn sure. I’m incredulous that I’ve just waved goodbye to my twenties but you know what? At least I can say I’ve learned to be honest and authentic. I’ve dealt with things (like a boss, obvs). And I’ve moved that little bit closer to the life that I really want to live. Who needs white denim hotpants, anyway?
I may be letting the side down massively here, but I am one woman who really bloody struggles to multi-task. I can just about brush my teeth whilst simultaneously looking in the mirror (complex), or switch the toaster on and get the Vitalite out of the fridge (a stretch. I’ve managed to forget to put the bread in many, many times). Add this to the fact that I’m very easily distracted and it just makes doing any job about three times as long. Try and do one thing well rather than five things badly. What I’ve learned? Switch Facebook off when you’re writing an article (I’m actually considering deleting it all together). Instagram the minimum amount (it’s been reported that Instagramming food makes it less enjoyable. I’m guilty.) And stop interrupting your night out to take selfies. (again – guilty. You can see how much I don’t follow my own advice here: @FavouriteThing.)
AKA credit cards are not free money. That was the very astute gem of advice my friend Anna from South Molton Street Style offered up when I told her I was writing this post. She’s right of course, but not only did I not get the memo about this until very recently, I also seem to have spent every single last dime I’ve earned on things that appear to be a) not a house, b) not a car, and c) not not alot of shoes. My advice is this: don’t buy shoes, buy trips. And SAVE. Save from the very beginning. That way you can be smug and own a grown-up flat in your mid-twenties like so many of my bastard friends. I’ve been left squinting at my bank balance, trying to attract help by waving a white stiletto above my head and keeping myself warm with memories of holidays of yore.
5. You’re not the only one with imposter syndrome
Imposter Syndrome is A Thing. It’s actually a very female predicament; we tend to underestimate our capabilities and talents, whilst men basically think they can fly. A secret: they can’t. We can. But, even at 30, I still often feel like I’m playing grown ups at work and at any moment Jeremy Beadle/ my boss is going to jump out of the stationery cupboard and tell me the jig is up. Then I actually think about it and I remember I worked my ass off to get to the stage where feeling slightly fraud-like is even a consideration. If anything, it proves that work still challenges me. And that can only ever be a good thing.
6. Have an open heart
It could be my Greek side but I love invading people’s personal space, making things awkward, giving too many hugs, too many kisses (I once did a Rachel from Friends and kissed someone who’d just interviewed me on the way out. Still got the job though – WHICH JUST PROVES MY THEORY). Love big and be generous. You get back what you put in.
7. Be hungry. For everything.
Woody Allen once said that 80% of success is just showing up. I like to interpret this as just saying yes. Extra work, events, parties you’re too knackered to go to – make the effort. You’re never gonna think back fondly of that one night you stayed in, ate chicken from the Waterfall Kebab Centre and watched Game of Thrones. (Which, incidentally, is my plan for this evening. I am allowed. I am recovering from a two week hangover. See previous ‘just say yes’ philosophy).
8. Be your own best friend
People come and go from your life for a reason, everyone has a purpose, but, at the end of the day, it’s just you left. Be nice and make sure you actually like yourself, then. In the hallowed words of RuPaul, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an A-MEN? (She also said, ‘My goal is to always come from a place of love… but sometimes you just have to break it down for a motherfucker’). Just saying.
9. Don’t worry
Seriously… who the hell cares? Is it going to matter in a week? A month? A year? Probably not. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. I’d love to tell you I wrote that, but it was Corrie ten Boom. Also: Hakuna Matata. Timon and Pumba are very wise.
10. Sing and dance in front of the mirror
I do this WAY more than I’d care to admit but I gave it up for a while and those were dark days. I’d like to think that acting like a complete twat will always have a certain appeal and that I’ll mortify my children by still doing it when I’m 45. Plus: singing’s good for you; it increases oxygenation in the blood stream and releases endorphins. Despairing neighbours when I’m still pretending to be Whitney at 1am; please refer to above link.
This is getting a bit quote-heavy I realise, but one of my favourites is from the poet Robert Browning, which I had as my screensaver for a long time when I was struggling to make the next step in my career, ‘Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?’ It reminds me to aim high, make plans and always push myself. To never settle. To be ambitious (If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough – sorry, last one I promise!). And to remember that it’s the hardest things to achieve in life that are always the most worthwhile.
Well, briefly, anyway. Do it now, while you still can. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that and have an array of very interesting T-shirts. Comedians, drummers, drain cleaners, people who went by the name of Maverick (I mean, come on. The clue was there)… all lurking somewhere on the wrong ‘un scale, but all pretty fun nonetheless. Do it for the stories, learn what you want (GSOH, nice to his mum, the ability to dance like Channing Tatum) and what you certainly don’t bloody want (emotional fuckwittery, a poo van as a main mode of transportation, Morris dancing parents – yes, really) and get on with it.