25 Things I’ve Learned Before Turning 25

Hi, loves! This coming Friday, on May 17th, I turn 25 and I’m happy to say I’m way more cool about being a year older than I was when I turned 24. I think our twenties are a weird time; from being teenagers we had goals and aspirations for where we thought we’d be at *insert age* and we may not have met the goals we’d laid out for ourselves. I’m actually really okay with that this year, and I feel so blessed to be turning 25 feeling genuinely happier than I have for all of my twenty-something birthdays. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my last birthday and Matt and I had so much fun, but I was still so worried about being another year older. Back on my 21st birthday I didn’t even celebrate because I was really struggling with my anxiety and felt so rubbish, yet now at 25 I feel like a whole new person!

Even though I still deal with anxiety and panic attacks on a semi-regular basis, I’m truly the happiest I’ve ever been right now, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to say that! I have the most amazing boyfriend in the whole world (you might have heard me mention him from time to time…) and my family and friends are just the best I could wish for. I have a job, a car, lots of new goals I’m working towards and my blog is my little baby! If you had told 21 year old Gill that this would be her life at 25, she’d never have believed it. Anxiety has re-shaped my whole life over the past six years, and although it has been terrible in some parts, I have grown so much and I appreciate life in a whole new way.

1. Your mental health must always be your first priority. Only you can do this for yourself, and it’s so important to listen to what you need (and deserve). No matter what the situation is, if you don’t feel up to it you don’t need to do it and you’ll thank yourself later. We live in a generation where it’s not at all uncommon to suffer or know someone suffering with mental health problems, and it’s something we need to stop being ashamed of, and start speaking up about!

2. Being in love is the best feeling in the whole world. I feel beyond blessed to experience such a deep and meaningful love at such a young age, that some people don’t find in one thousand lifetimes. Matt is not just my boyfriend but my rock, my soulmate, my biggest supporter and my favourite person in the whole world. Falling asleep and waking up with the person you love every day is also hands down one of the best feelings you’ll ever experience, it still makes me so happy every single day/night. I’m so lucky to be in love with my best friend, and I never have or will take that for granted.

3. Moderation is key. This applies to most aspects of life really, but especially with food. Since I was super young I’ve had a bit of a weird relationship with food; I either binge on anything and everything I want, or I barely eat. Over the past few years I’ve found a much better balance; I eat tons of fruits and veggies, and if I want to eat chocolate, sweets, ice cream (or whatever!) I’ll enjoy that too. I also have the worst sweet tooth, sometimes I literally can’t help myself!!

4. Learning to drive is one of the best thing you’ll ever do. Well, for me it was. I struggled and stressed my way through driving lessons, failing tests I wasn’t ready for and having panic attack after panic attack at even the thought of another lesson. I finally plucked up the courage to change instructors and breezed through my test (third time lucky!) and now, three and a half years on, I truly couldn’t imagine my life without being able to drive, or my cute little Viva!

5. Always buy the scented candle. Seriously. I am a connoisseur of candles, if I do say so myself, at the grand old age of (almost) twenty five, and if I like the candle I’m going to buy the candle. It makes me happy, and life is too short to not do what makes you happy. Which is more the point of this lesson: do what makes you happy. And buy the damn candle.

6. Always be kind, no matter how you feel that day. But do not expect every kind act to be reciprocated, or you’ll be sorely disappointed. Kindness is so so important, and we can all be a bit nicer from time to time! It’s just important to remember that you don’t know what anyone is going through, and everyone has their own problems to deal with. I delved into this topic way more in this post.

7. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve spent almost twenty five years trying to please everyone, and keep everyone around me happy. It’s a fact that you’re not going to gel with everyone you meet in life, and that’s okay. I really want to be less of a people pleaser, and it’s something I’m working on. I joked to Matt the other day that sometimes I feel like Amy Santiago with the Captain in Brooklyn 99 – desperate to be liked, lol!

8. Always pay yourself first out of your wages. Setting up a direct debit into my savings account has totally changed how I save money; you can’t miss money you didn’t ever see! Every month the day after I get paid, X amount goes straight into my savings account and is there for emergencies only. I have separate savings accounts for various things, but that *just incase* money is so important, and gives me peace of mind.

9. Not everyone has your best interests at heart. This is a hard lesson; to share and to learn, and it’s something I still struggle with now. I want to believe that everyone’s nice and life is sunshine and rainbows but I know that’s not true. If someone talks badly of you when you’re not around, makes you feel/look stupid in front of others or will happily throw you under the bus for their own gain then they’re not worth it.

10. Travelling feeds the soul. I’m not one for backpacking round Australia for three months – props to you, if you are – but I love to explore new places, and Matt is (obviously) my favorite travel partner. Whether it’s city breaks, day trips or week-long jaunts to a hot climate, I absolutely love to travel and I can’t wait to tick more and more places off our bucket list. We got to Croatia in five and a half weeks and I’m SO ready for it!

11. Never apologise for being curious. Asking questions is the way we learn, and it’s not something to be looked down on for. Ever. During my second week at my job back when I was 19 years old and super shy, I innocently asked the person teaching me why she did a few things so I could get a better understanding. She scoffed that I ask too many questions, laughed about me with our other colleagues, and made me feel so uncomfortable for being genuinely curious and wanting to learn. Her reaction sticks with me to this day, and I try to be as helpful as possible when teaching others as a result.

12. There’s a Disney quote for every occasion. There really is! My favourite is always going to be from the man himself: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

13. Having the confidence to walk into the unknown is a beautiful thing. Like starting this blog. I had wanted to create a blog for most of my adult life, as an avid reader/follower of so many, yet I lacked the confidence to do so. I wrote myself off as being not good enough, yet I love writing my blog more and more as the months go on. I’m so thankful for my platform, and even though it is just a hobby for me right now, I take it so seriously.

14. The quality of your social circle is much more important than the quantity. Treasure the people that always have your back and fill you with joy, love and happiness, they’re the good eggs! As you get older I think it’s so difficult to meet new people and make friends, that’s something that shocked me a little about getting older. I’ve said this thousands of times, but I know I’m so lucky that Matt is my boyfriend and my best friend, and I thank my lucky stars for that every single day. Quality over quantity, always!

15. Being open with your emotions does not make you weak. I’ve been told several times that I’m ‘too’ emotional. It’s true that I cry a lot (whether I’m happy or sad, ha!), I often lead with my heart and I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve. Being emotional means I’m very empathetic to others’ situations however, and that is not a bad quality to have!

16. Learning to cook is life changing. Matt and I flipping LOVE cooking. We love to try new recipes and methods, create our own meals and experiment with different ingredients and flavours. I feel sad I didn’t have an interest in cooking from a younger age and I wish I’d developed it sooner, but I’m so happy it’s something Matt and I are able to learn about together! I delved into how and why we meal plan in this post, and I’m excited to share some of our favourite recipes on the blog in the coming months.

17. Being kind to the planet is so important. I’m ashamed to admit that this is something I’ve only truly thought about over the past two or three years, but I’m proud of myself for making changes to my everyday life and doing what I can to make a difference. I wrote a post about small changes we can make in our everyday lives to live more sustainably here if you’d like to check that out for a little inspiration. I definitely want to write more about this topic on my blog!

18. Mums are always right. If I had have told my 14 year old self this I would have literally laughed in my own face, but it’s true. My mum and Matt’s mum (she’s my second mum, I’m so lucky!!) always know what to do or say no matter what the situation is, and they are strong, amazing women that I’m so lucky to look up to.

19. There’s no place like home. *clicks glittery red heels together* ha! For real, Matt and I are homebodies in every sense of the word. We love cosy nights at home; lighting our candles, cooking a lovely dinner and snuggling up to watch a show. (I’m so excited to do this in our own home, hopefully next year!) We also love our hometown more than anything – Newcastle is honestly the greatest place on earth to us. From where we live, we’re ten minutes away from the city centre in one direction, the beach another, and the countryside in another!

20. Friendships change and that’s okay. Sometimes friendships grow into a life-long bond, sometimes they mould into a weird new territory and sometimes they fizzle out all together. Take the good with the bad and be sure to appreciate the good memories you make as they will last way beyond any empty friendships. You learn so many lessons from your friendships, and I wish I knew this when I was a teenager.

21. Comparing your life to somebody else’s will never bring you joy. You were made to be you; a unique individual with their own thoughts, looks, style, opinions etc and that is a wonderful thing. Don’t feel envious of other people’s lives or circumstances, and put that focus back into yourself. Stay in your own lane and you’ll be so much happier for it.

22. You’ll turn into a grandma sooner than you think. Like I said above, Matt and I are homebodies. We’re those people that think we want to go out for date night, but when the day comes we’d rather stay in and cook a meal or grab a takeaway. We also would rather get an early night in so we can head out early in the morning for breakfast and ‘a wander’ (potentially around a garden centre…). We buy clothes thinking about the purpose and/or longevity. If we’re in the house you can pretty much guarantee I have a blanket draped over me. We’re literally turning into our grandparents more and more as the days roll on and we’re okay with that, just someone please stop me if you see me going in for a blue rinse!

23. Standing up for what you believe can be hard, but always worth it. I hate confrontation. I hate disagreements. I hate arguments. BUT there is always a way to get your point across in a level-headed, relaxed way, and it doesn’t need to cause uproar. Being respectful is the main thing; it’s okay to disagree with someone’s opinion, stand up for your beliefs or voice your thoughts, and it’s something I really need to do more often.

24. Less truly is more. After the rise of minimalism, sustainability and Marie Kondo, we all felt a bit embarrassed about the amount of crap we’d accumulated, right? Since having several clear outs – tbh, Matt and I really need another – I’m very happy living with less and truly loving what I own. I think about this with everything I buy, and it means I’m way more clever about what is worth the purchase. Does *insert item* spark joy? Will I get use out of *insert item*? Material items will not bring you happiness, no matter how hard you try to make them.

25. Making ‘me time’ is so important. There’s so much more to self care than just the beauty aspect, but I swear treating yourself to pamper evening at least once per week will make your whole life feel different. Go all out with a face mask, hair mask, full body scrub and a Lush bath bomb. Book yourself in for regular salon appointments to keep your hair looking pretty, and indulge in getting your nails done now and then. When you look good you feel good, and I really appreciate ‘me time’.

Thank you so much for reading, it truly means the world to me! I’m taking a little of my own advice from this post, and for the first time on my blog, there won’t be a new post up on Sunday. I’m SO SAD saying that, but I want to enjoy my birthday weekend with Matt and not have to worry about editing, scheduling or keeping up with my new post, I hope you understand! Can you relate with any of the lessons I mentioned in this post? What’s the most important things you’ve learned so far in life? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back on Wednesday, have a wonderful weekend!

-G x

Blogging Whilst Having A Full Time Job: How I Make It Work

Hi, loves!

Blogging is without a doubt my favourite hobby assuming that napping with my boyfriend is not considered a hobby but it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with my schedule when I work a full time job in the real world, that comes with it’s own problems and stresses. As lots of you will already know, I have a 9am to 5pm job in Accounts and Purchasing in the real world. I work Monday to Friday, so thankfully I have all of my evenings and weekends free which gives me lots of spare time. I always make sure to prioritise time with Matt, and our friends and family first, as well as allowing myself as much ‘me time’ as I need to keep my mental health feeling good. My blogging then slots in behind that, and I always try so hard to create good quality content that I’m proud of.

I started writing my blog in June 2017, after being a dedicated reader of so many blogs for years. I always thought it was something I wouldn’t be good at doing; I lacked the confidence to create one, and I had no idea where to start with the technical side of things either. I’ve talked about my feelings on this subject a little in this post, but I am SO glad I finally took the leap and created my little corner of the internet, after lots of encouragement from Matt. He’s an absolute gem and I’m forever grateful for all of his support, I love him so much! I’ve learned such a huge array of things already about the blogging world, and I’m still learning every day. My blog is my pride and joy, it’s literally like a little baby I want to look after and feed with all of the good stuff, and it feels so good to do something that’s just for me, but also benefits other people. To be honest, even if nobody read my blog I’d still write, it brings me so much joy and a sense of calm that I didn’t know I needed.

I’ve spoken many times on my blog, in various posts, about the fact that Matt and I’s schedules vary so much – there’s a little more background in this post – due to his varying shifts at work. Matt’s hours fluctuate each week, as do his days off, so we always make sure to make the most of time together, and make that our first priority. As a result, my blogging time to brainstorm ideas, write, edit, take photographs etc varies day by day, week by week. At least twice per week Matt starts work early, which means he’s getting up at 6am. I like to get up for the day with him and make his breakfast then when he leaves for work I will work on my blog, and try to squeeze in a yoga practice, before getting ready for the day. He works until late a few times per week, so again my main focus on those evenings is to work on my blog for X amount of time before he gets home, if I don’t have other plans or errands to run. Weekends also vary a lot, although recently we’ve been super lucky and he’s had lots of days off with me! Where possible, I take at least four hours during his work day when I’m at home to work on my blog, and get things pre-planned for the coming week(s). These big chunks of time come in so handy because I can get so much done! I generally tend to just take any spare time I have to create content, and although I don’t have the same daily schedule it seems to work well, and I’m able to run my blog around my life, rather than run my life around my blog.

If we have a few busy weeks in a row it makes it so much harder to ‘fit’ blogging in around the rest of my life, and that’s when I feel stressed out with keeping my hobby going to the high standards I’ve set myself. It sometimes can get a little overwhelming and there have been times I’ve put up a post because it was scheduled for that specific day, even though I haven’t been 100% happy with it. That is something I really don’t want to do again as I feel that’s an unfair reflection of my blog, and it makes me feel a bit rubbish. I appreciate that I’m able to write and edit on my phone, so sometimes I take a little time out of my work day, during my lunch break, to do so. I generally prefer to write on my laptop (or Matt’s) at home though, so I only use my phone to write/edit when I’m feeling a little behind. From my very first post I set myself a blogging schedule – which has since slightly changed due to realising the ‘peak’ times people read posts – but I always stick to it, and post twice per week. I like having continuity in my posts as that’s something I appreciate from my favourite bloggers.

I always write my posts in advance, and I usually have at least five to six posts pre-written, that are then edited a few days before going live. I plan ahead by months sometimes, which sounds a little crazy but I generally have lots of ideas at one time, so I like to plan them in as and when I think of them. I’m so Type A, LOL. I used to include a paragraph at the start of each post about what I’d been up to that week or weekend; any restaurants Matt and I had been to, what we’re watching on TV etc, but that’s something I’ve since stopped doing as I felt it was getting repetitive and took away from the topic(s) in my posts unnecessarily. Sometimes I see that a similar post to what I’ve written has been posted by someone else a little earlier than mine is planned, and I always worry that it looks as though I’m stealing their ideas, although I promise my ideas are all my own! I’m influenced by lots other bloggers – both big and small – in many ways, but I would never copy somebody else’s work or thoughts.

The biggest ‘struggle’ I have when it comes to my blogging schedule is taking photos to go with my pre-written posts. During the Winter months when it was dark before I went to work, and dark when I came home, I would try to take as many photographs as possible during the three hour window it was light every two weeks, and then end up stressed if I had other plans or it wasn’t bright enough outside anyway. I try to take lots of photographs at one time now, so I can edit and upload them together, and this alleviates a little of the stress of always having to take new photos. As I mentioned above, I feel like a lot of the struggles I feel regarding my blog are because I have set myself such high standards, but realistically if a post went up a day later, or didn’t have ‘enough’ photos, nobody would notice (or care) anyways.

I am very happy with, and proud of, my blog (I love my re-design that I did in March – I even had to write code, guys!) but I can’t help sometimes feeling discouraged when I inevitably compare myself to other bloggers. Blogging is not something that brings home the bacon for me, and although I have no idea what will happen in the future, it’s something that right now I love to do regardless, and I enjoy every aspect even with the stress I sometimes feel. That being said, now and then I feel like my blog isn’t good enough, and I can be really hard on myself about that. Sometimes when I read other bloggers’ paid or sponsored posts, seeing how much they are given by brands (those new CMA and ASA rules made this abundantly clear) and how much engagement they get on other platforms, can sometimes really get to me. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard blogging can be first hand, and I know that most bloggers work so hard and are extremely deserving of their success, it just sometimes worries me that I won’t ever get *there*, wherever there is. These worries are thankfully few and far between, and it’s normal to sometimes doubt yourself, right? It’s a little bit hard to admit that I can feel that way from time to time, and I know some people wouldn’t share that.

I think blogging often seems like sunshine and rainbows to the outside world, but it’s important to be realistic and remember that there are deadlines (albeit, set by myself), a sense of stability and continuity in my posts, and a constant need to be creative. I’m not the most creative person in the world – you should see my art projects as a child, wow! – but when it comes to writing, that’s my thing. I love sharing parts of my life, whether it’s what Matt and I have been up to, products I enjoy using or just my general thoughts and feelings on a subject, and again that’s something I really appreciate in other bloggers’ posts. I also feel the same about YouTube; it’s the boring, at-home-and-running-errands vlogs that interest me the most, not the wow-look-at-this-super-amazing-trip vlogs, although they can be a guilty pleasure from time to time. (Especially Disney World vlogs!) I’ve heard from several people, some of which I know personally and some I do not, that they love seeing a little sneak peek into my everyday life, and I recognise that I’m so blessed to have a platform to share that. I think I just need to stay in my own lane, remember that I’m being true to myself no matter what, and above all continue to put so much time, love and energy into my blog.

If you’re reading this post and hoping to start a blog, or maybe you already have a blog and struggle with finding time to create the content you so badly want to, don’t worry. Look at your schedule, carve time out where it’s possible and never give up. It’s going to be difficult now and then, but you’ll never get anywhere without lots of hard work and perseverance, and that’s true for all things in life. There may be various stressful situations occasionally, but you must put yourself and your mental health first! Make sure to take time out when you need it, and if it means skipping an upload day or pushing it back, I promise your readers will understand. That’s advice I need to take for myself, too.

Thank you so much for reading! I say it in every post but it truly means the world to me; I appreciate every view, comment and like more than you know. Do you feel any of the struggles or stress I’ve mentioned in this post, as you juggle writing your blog with working full time? Do you have any advice or tips that may help me or other bloggers? Please leave them in the comments below!

-G x