29 life lessons I learnt this last year

adulting illustration, 29 life lessons

This week I’m turning 29 and nope, I still don’t feel like a real adult. Younger me kind of assumed that I’d be married and a mum by this age but it turns out that life is quite different from what you imagine it to be at age 10, am I right?!

Despite that though, it’s been a huge learning year with a lot of change and I’m in a very different (much better) place to what I was in March 2018.

Here’s 29 lessons at 29…

1. Changing your career can change your life

I spent my 28th birthday at Chester Zoo (best birthday activity ever) but as soon as we left, the rest of my day was filled with tears and anxiety at the prospect of going back to work the next day, and I knew things had gotten really bad. Changing what I do to work in a school has transformed my happiness and self-esteem – I wrote more about this in a post last year.

2. How rewarding it can be to work with children

Leading on from the first lesson, it’s been absolutely amazing to work with children and see the world through their eyes. Emotional, frustrating, saddening, inspiring and uplifting all at once. There’s never a dull day!

3. Even with insurance, pets can leave you skint

Ah, little Mel and Sue. When they’re not causing chaos by chewing through wires, weeing on the carpet or learning how to tip their litter tray over in a freshly cleaned hutch, their other favourite thing is to send me into a world of panic by stopping eating. This has happened once apiece in the last year, resulting in a call to the vets, being advised to head over immediately, and a nice little excess payment on my insurance. I know, I know, I’m being super cynical here, because even when they cost me a small fortune I do completely adore them. How could you not love those faces?

photo of bunnies, 29 life lessons

4. How to fold like Marie Kondo

I loved the Netflix show ‘Tidying Up’ with Marie Kondo and have since gutted my wardrobe and re-folded everything Kondo style. It still makes me so happy having all my clothes organised.

5. My tolerance for alcohol can continue to decrease

I didn’t think this was possible but I was wrong. I can now be hungover without ever actually having been drunk.

6. How to create an email newsletter

I’d wanted to start one for ages and last summer I finally got round to figuring out Mail Chimp and everything I needed to do to create my own newsletter to go with this blog (if you’re not a subscriber yet, click here to find out more!)

7. To continuously keep check on my mental health

I often have to remind myself that mental health is no linear thing, and just because I feel so much better now than I have done in the past, that my anxiety will continue to peak and trough. Rather than the lows taking me by surprise, I’m trying to notice more how I feel day to day and react accordingly so I can keep a better handle on my mood.

8. It’s possible for the UK to get really hot

Although Aaron and I didn’t have a holiday booked last summer, we certainly didn’t miss out thanks to that glorious sunshine of summer 2018. I didn’t think it was possible for the UK to get that hot.

9. England can actually do well at the World Cup

Who knew?! After years of disappointment, it was so much fun watching England play in the World Cup last year, and getting together with friends to soak up the atmosphere in the pub and cheer on the team.

10. To not take the people I love for granted

I suppose I already knew this, but the last year has brought this home to me again, after losing two people I loved very much.

11. More about how to manage grief

Following on from my last point, I feel as though I’ve learnt a lot more about processing grief and loss. I wrote this blog post about it.

12. How to live more frugally

Aaron and I have been saving for a house, and decided to go on more of a push with it since January. Getting organised with our food shops, holding back from buying clothes and leaving weekends plan-free are all things that have really helped, and I’m glad to say I’m not as rubbish at saving as I thought.

13. A lot more about autism

Through work I’ve been doing quite a bit of training on autism and I feel like I’ve learnt so much in the last year. There are lots of assumptions and stereotypes propagated in the media which are simply untrue, and I’m grateful to have a job that educates me.

14. Spending time with friends is intrinsic to my health and happiness

As I mentioned before, as part of trying to save we’ve been attempting not to make too many plans. However I’ve realised recently how important it is to get the balance, because too much time without seeing friends and I become really low. Spending time with people I love is one of the most life-affirming things there is.

15. It’s possible for me to lose all sense and sign up to a sponsored run

I had a moment of madness recently and signed up to do a 5k Race for Life. If you know me, then you’ll know running is not something I do, end of, so I’m not quite sure what went through my head here, but if you’d like to sponsor me you can do so here!

16. I’m more passionate about diet culture than I ever realised

I’ve been very much anti-diet for years, but coming across anti-diet nutritionists on Instagram in the last year and reading Laura Thomas’ book Just Eat It has really added fuel to my fire. I care so much about the way we as women see ourselves and this is a topic I want to keep addressing through the blog and my illustrations.

17. Fancy dress is still fun after uni

I’ve not really been one for fancy dress since uni days, but I had so much fun dressing up as a 1920s flapper at New Year’s Eve and then as Where’s Wally for World Book Day last week.

18. I never stopped being obsessed with interior design

I mentioned in a recent post that as a child I dreamt of being an interior designer, and used to spend my time drawing up dream rooms and labelling all the furniture in them. With the prospect of Aaron and I getting our own place, I’ve got totally into it again and have been stockpiling interiors magazines, dragging Aaron round furniture shops (just to ‘get ideas’ you know) and creating multiple Pinterest boards.

19. How to use Pinterest

On that note, I feel like I’ve actually learnt how to use Pinterest in the last year, in terms of taking it a bit more seriously and using it to share blog posts etc. Victoria Jackson’s Pin to Win course was very helpful when it came to this.

20. How to make a BĂ©arnaise sauce

I’d been wanting to crack this one for ages seeing as it’s my all time favourite thing to have with steak and chips. I had a go and was so chuffed when it was a success, faffy but worth it.

21. Age doesn’t breed confidence behind the wheel

I took my driving test twice as a teenager, and then stopped lessons when I left home to go to uni and didn’t have much need for driving. I recently started up lessons again and was hoping ten years on I’d be this transformed, calm and collected driver, but alas I’m as nervous and timid as ever.

22. Blogging events aren’t as scary as they seem

I plucked up the courage to finally go to a blogging event recently (helped a lot by the fact that a friend came with me) and it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought, but actually a really lovely and inspiring afternoon.

22. I hold a lot of privilege that I’ve previously taken for granted

The last year has been a huge education in how much privilege I hold, and a wake-up call to the struggles of many who are marginalised by society, be that because of race, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability for example. Of course we all know that discrimination in these areas exists, but I’d never really examined my own subconscious biases before and I’m determined to keep digging into this, to step outside my bubble.

23. I’m an INFJ-T

Following a podcast episode about introversion from the brilliant Little Chapters podcast, I finally took a Myers Briggs-style personality test. It was absolutely fascinating and I got so many insights from finding out I’m an INFJ-T. (I used this free test as mentioned by the podcast, but please note that the official Myers Briggs test can be found here for a more accurate assessment).

24. You don’t need lots of money to create presents someone will love

Aaron seems to be exceptionally hard to buy for (as with a lot of boys) and it also happens that money’s been tight when his birthday and Christmas have come around. So for his birthday last year I had the idea instead to create little IOU vouchers, for things like breakfast in bed and a free pass for him to watch sport all day. Then at Christmas a colleague inspired me to create a jar of 100 things I love about him, all of which I wrote on lollipop sticks. He absolutely loved both presents, probably more than anything I could’ve spent money on.

25. Nobody had a plan for Brexit

I know this one’s just depressing so I’ll say no more.

26. I need to do more for the environment

I used to be quite content with recycling milk bottles and cereal boxes for the fortnightly council collection, but I’ve (belatedly) woken up to the fact that there’s a serious amount more that needs doing. I finally bought a Keep Cup for my coffee and re-usable water bottle after years of waste, and once Aaron and I move am planning to get a bin for food waste. I also bought some reusable cotton pads, though I’m not sold on those. Lots more work to be done!

27. I will always be emotional and that’s okay

Happy or sad, I will always, always be emotional. Genuinely, sometimes I cry at people going out of Masterchef or not getting a turn in The Voice.

28. Planning a holiday itinerary using blogs is the way forward

I’m a big fan of Trip Advisor but had never really used travel blogs before to inform what I do on holiday. When we went to Amsterdam last year, some handy blog posts meant our stay included the most delicious brunches.

29. Re-learning how much I love reading

I’ve woken up in the last few months to just how much time I spend on my phone, and discovering some wonderful books in the last year has really helped me to make better use of down time.

Phew! That was a whole lot of lessons. What do you feel you’ve learnt about yourself recently, or in the last year? I’d love to hear.

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