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

Do Any Of Us Really Have Our Sh*t Together?

Hi, loves!

Today I’m talking about something I think we all need to talk about more: anxiety and how it can affect those that struggle with it on a daily basis. I wrote a post similarly to this back in August, which you can read here. This may have all come out like #wordvomit (if you know, you know) but if this post can help even one person that makes me so pleased, please know you’re not alone and we’re all fighting our own battles!

I’d just like to preface this whole post by saying I know I have a bloody good life. I have a boyfriend I adore more than life itself, we have the most amazing families, I have a job, I have my own car, I have holidays and trips to look forward to, I have the luxury of snuggling up next to the person I love every night and I have a blog I enjoy writing, amongst many other amazing things.

I try so hard to focus on the positives in my life, and I know there are SO MANY to look at. Yet, every so often, I feel so down in the dumps and I don’t know how to get out of it. I talked about all of the things I’ve been doing to beat the January blues in this post which has been a huge help throughout the past few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, the anxiety I generally feel is not an all-consuming, every minute of every day kind of feeling, but it’s there, niggling at the back of my mind. And it feels like it’s never going to go away. Usually, I begin to feel this way because I get a random bout of anxiety about something mundane. This time, it was the snow. Yep. To set the scene; Matt and I were having a lovely night, snuggled up watching Inside The World’s Toughest Prison’s on Netflix (highly recommend if you haven’t seen it, we’ve binge watched three seasons in just over a week!) after eating dinner, and I started uncontrollably crying. These are the kind of things you wouldn’t find featured on my Instagram story, but more about that later.

I feel anxious and apprehensive about the cold weather every year, and the thought of driving in it terrifies me to my core. I know that this specific topic is what was making me feel worried and sad; to the point I’d be wide awake at 3am, cuddling into Matt whilst he slept like a baby, but not being able to fall back to sleep myself. I’d spend way longer than necessary refreshing the Met Office pages each day, checking for updates on the likelihood of snow or ice, to the point it became a running joke with my co-workers (except for me, it wasn’t that funny). I’d be reading my book in the bath and suddenly feel a wave of worry wash over me, thinking about how I’d possibly make it to work tomorrow if it snowed overnight. This is all absolutely ridiculous, but hopefully it gives you a little back story into my pattern of thinking.

The stupidest thing is, I can drive in the snow and ice, and when I do it’s never as bad as I think it might be. If I really didn’t want to drive in the bad weather Matt would happily take me to work and pick me up, therefore eliminating the problem all together. I, now thinking rationally, can see that’s fine, and this issue doesn’t warrant worrying over any further. BUT, during the time of feeling generally panicked and anxious, that seems even worse – he’s putting himself in danger to take me somewhere, he’s taking time out of his day for me etc. It’s almost like my brain doesn’t want to provide a solution, and instead thinks of all the other things that could go wrong off the back of it.

Anyone who does or has suffer(ed) with anxiety will recognise what I’m saying above as being pretty standard. One little seed grows into a whole damn tree and the branches of worry get heavier as time goes on. Whether you suffer with anxiety or not, lots of us feel overwhelmed and uneasy from time to time. It’s silly really, most of us have feelings like this yet we don’t talk about it, and we don’t let people know how we feel. Then again, how could I really explain that I’m terrified about the prospect of snow, when the day before was 9 degrees and sunny.

The worry of bad weather in the past few weeks was just the start, and a familiar cycle began; I then started to worry about everything. Is my job safe? Will Matt and I save enough and find our future home by the end of the year? What if the restaurant we’ve made reservations for is too loud and I feel uncomfortable? These are, in the grand scheme of things, insignificant worries, yet in the moment they feel crushing and I’m stuck thinking of all the things that could go wrong.

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned, and I’m still learning, is there is a huge difference between worries we can control and worries we cannot. Suddenly not having a job? No control, I’d have to just find another. (Also, it’s thankfully very unlikely that would happen!) Not finding a house to make our home this year? No control, but I know that it will happen when it happens and we’ve always got each other. Feeling uncomfortable on date night? We can always leave and go somewhere else. If I’m able to take a minute and think logically – especially if I can vocalise my thoughts – I can separate worries I can and can’t control. The things I can control generally have obvious solutions, and the things I can’t control just shouldn’t be taking up space in my brain. I’m so lucky that Matt is always so understanding and reassuring, and makes me feel so much better.

Something that now, in hindsight, makes me laugh is the things that probably *should cause me to feel anxious generally don’t. Whether that’s waiting in line for a long time when grocery shopping, being stuck in traffic, the hustle and bustle of a football game, those kinds of things are just ‘normal’ to me, and don’t leave me in a tizzy.
*NOT give me anxiety, just the normal human emotion of feeling anxious

One thing that does heighten my anxiety is social media. In a world where we’re so connected all the time, I see what my friend’s boyfriend’s auntie’s dog is up to, and quite honestly, I don’t care. I feel strongly about social media in that it’s a great place to document our lives. It’s a great place to connect and share our thoughts with others, and to potentially make new friends. It’s a great place to support small businesses. It’s a great place to raise awareness of topics or campaigns. However, it’s also a place where we compare ourselves to other people, whether it’s intentional or not.

I love to keep up with other people’s lives, in the same way I love to watch hours of mindless reality TV. (Four hour KUTWK sesh? Count me in!) I scroll through Instagram several times per day and when I’m in a good state of mind, it either doesn’t alter my mood or it makes me feel happy. I really enjoy scrolling to find inspiration on outfits, where to go for our next date night or what our future home will look like, and it’s all in one place! I’m happy for the people sharing their engagement news, promotions, new houses, gym progress and pregnancy announcements that I see on a regular basis. I love seeing people’s children achieve milestones and relating to them in a whole other way. I love when people share, and sometimes overshare, on social media, but when I’m having a *moment* as Matt & I like to call them, then everything seems to be taken out of context and I feel bad about myself in comparison to the success of others, which is something I’m so embarrassed to admit.

The thing is, I know so many of us have this feeling, whether it’s related to anxiety or just a bad day. I’m a big believer in unfollowing people who make you feel rubbish regularly, but I think at some point we have to take the responsibility for this back, and look at why we feel bad. Is someone looking super hot in a fancy pants outfit you’d never wear anyway, and you’re slobbing about in sweat pants with no make up on? Is someone sharing gleaming photos of how they’ve hinched their kitchen and you’re wishing it was yours? Is someone travelling around the most incredible island you’ve ever seen and you know it’s not on you radar any time soon? Whatever it is, other people’s actions are not a direct reflection of you or your life. No matter how many green smoothies, cute date night pictures, or amazing shopping sprees someone shares, that doesn’t mean they’re any happier than you. By the same token, it also doesn’t mean they’re miserable and trying to look happy for social media. There’s a weird notion that people who look like they’re happy obviously aren’t and it’s all pretend, but that’s not necessarily true either. I know I share lots of my life on social media, but I can admit that I share way more when I’m feeling good, which I’m sure is the same for most of us. Happiness isn’t measured by being more or less happy than somebody else and we don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives unless they personally tell us. The reality is everyone has their own struggles, and we should focus more on ourselves than on other people.

Anxiety is a weird thing, but it’s also kinda wonderful. I’m going to end this post by sharing with you a few points on why I’m grateful to be working my way through anxiety, one step at a time;

I set time aside to do what truly makes me happy. I feel like I need little nuggets of good in the day (and not just the Quorn kind) to make me feel revitalised and refreshed, and as a result I make those things a priority.
The little things mean the most to me and always have done. Taking even just 10 minutes out of my day to read a book, spending my evenings cooking and relaxing with Matt, catch up on my YouTube subscriptions, fitting in yoga sessions, singing loudly in the car and other little things make me feel so much better. On the other side of this, I know when things make me feel nervous or uncomfortable and I’m able to remove myself from those situations.

I know how to plan. It may seem silly to some, but I generally have plans A, B and C for most situations, and this allows me to know my options, and to feel more comfortable in general. I talked a little bit about this in terms of social situations in this post if that’s something you’d like to know more about. A few more benefits of being a planner is that Matt and I will never miss a birthday or anniversary, can do our weekly shop pretty damn quickly, and we always have things to look forward to together.

I am more empathetic towards others. I think if I hadn’t struggled with anxiety on and off for years, I’d not be as empathetic as I am today. I genuinely feel others’ pain and struggles, and I’ll always go out of my way to help in any way I can. I am happy to talk through people’s problems and offer advice (when asked), hopefully helping people to feel a little better.

I hope by sharing this with you, you may have a little insight into my life you’d otherwise not know. I also hope that it may resonate with you, whether you feel similarly to me or whether it may help you see how someone in your life is feeling. Thank you so much for reading, I’d love to know your thoughts on this below! Also, in answer to the title, my opinion is no. None of us have our sh*t together, and that’s okay.

-G x