close-up image of girl holding yellow flower

5 Things You Need to Start Doing Before It’s Too Late

“Life is fragile.”
“You only live once.”
“No regrets.”

You’ve heard it all before, right? But have you really stopped to actually mull over these powerful words that have become so blatantly cliche?

Within the last couple of months, I have watched the news reporting about a 19-year-old learner driver who was killed in a car accident beside her father. I have found out about close family members or friends of mine, and even friends of friends that have been diagnosed with cancer. I have sat next to a friend who scrolled through Facebook to read that a person they know has had a tragic accident and at only 15 years old, died suddenly.

So when we start to reflect on these sorts of stories we hear, the cliches start to echo a hard truth to swallow. That life is incredibly fragile. It becomes something even harder to digest when circumstances happen to loved ones and people that we know.

My boyfriend and a close friend of ours were talking about this recently and it left me really shaken up for the rest of the night. I sat in bed thinking all about this concept of one day leaving those around us and sometimes, it unfortunately happens without any warning.

Something that I have realised in this process is that I want to make five intentional changes in my life moving forward:

1. Hug people tighter

I’m not saying hold on an extra few seconds at your work Christmas party as you say thank you to your boss (because that’s weird). I’m talking about those closest to you. Your partner. Your kids. Your extended family. Your friends.

Don’t be embarrassed about group hugs (tip: if everyone looks the same direction, it’s not as awkward). Give a little squeeze when you embrace people. Hug them tighter. Hold on a little longer. When your sister goes to pull away, tell her, “nope, I’m not done yet”.

2. Say the ‘L’ word more

Stop being so hesitant about telling someone you love them. I believe it is the most beautiful and powerful thing you can do. It’s often the extended family and friends that we don’t really bother saying the ‘L’ word to. I’m saying, do it.

When you’re saying goodbye to your friend that you caught up for breakfast with, shout a little ‘love ya’ as you hug them goodbye. Send a random text throughout the day to your partner reminding them of how proud you are of them and how much you love them. Tell your grandma when you visit her next that you love her.

3. Pick up the phone

Often we don’t get to spend that much time seeing our family, but in a world where telephones have been used since 1876, there really is no excuse to keep in contact with them. And if they live overseas, don’t worry, social media has you covered!

But as great as emails, texts and checking on their Facebook status updates every once in a while is, physically picking up the phone to hear their voice and have a genuine catch-up is what really matters.

4. Never go to bed angry

I remember my boyfriend and I had an argument one day. It was over something really silly and it didn’t last very long at all. However, the one thing that stood out to me was the part where he made sure we were okay, that everything was sorted and we were on the same page before the day ended.

Life is too short to be holding grudges and losing sleep over something that can most likely be solved by communicating about it openly. Make sure you are happy with the last thing you said to someone before you say goodbye or leave. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life regretting how things ended.

5. Make an effort, always

Make an effort. Not sometimes. Not when you hear that your distant cousin is terminally ill. Not when you find out your friend from high school has only six months to live. But always. If they would mean a lot to you if they were gone, start making sure they know they mean a lot to you now.

This is easier said than done, of course. Sometimes we lose touch with people and other times, we just aren’t that close to a person in the first place, but their situation has tugged on your heart and you are left sending them positive thoughts and prayers.

Often, we are thinking about those people and care about them a heck of a lot, we just don’t have the time to actually tell them. But perhaps we need to start prioritising our lives better.

Trust me, I get it. I have been there and I still do all of that. But something I am challenging myself with lately is to not only start recognising the relationships I have with people in my life, but appreciating them also. Being intentional about our relationships with others and actively seeking opportunities to share that with them is so important.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t wait until it is too late. Go tell someone you love them. Go give someone a squeeze. Go ring your grandma.

Keep smiling. x

6 Things You Need to Stop Doing Once You’re Twenty.

In a few months, I turn twenty-one. While that is incredibly exciting, in the last year I have realised that this decade of life – your twenties – are, simply put, when everything changes. It is inevitably when life is going to throw you the biggest curveballs of all. Even though I have only really begun my journey into my twenties, I have made a pact with myself to try and change a few things about my thinking and behaviour. So, here are the six things I believe you need to stop doing once you are twenty.

1. Stop being a door mat.
Once you leave school, it’s different. It’s not rocket science – more time and effort has to go into maintaining the friendships you had growing up. Make time for your friends, but don’t forget that it goes both ways. All relationships work better when equal amounts of effort is put in by everyone involved. Some friendships are going to drift and you will feel one of two things: numbness or pain. If it is painful, it mattered. We are taught to stand up for ourselves and not let others use you. You’re not a door mat. Welcome people in to your life, but don’t let those people stand there and wipe their feet clean as they walk all over you. Be a kind person, but don’t let others take that for granted. You deserve friends that treat you right. Don’t you dare settle for less than you deserve.

2. Stop saying yes.
As you get older, you naturally accept more responsibility. Responsibility is great – it not only allows you to show others that you are mature and organised, but you learn how to prioritise and manage your time efficiently. However, don’t forget that you are also allowed to say ‘no’ every once in a while. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t take on so much responsibility that you are no longer passionate or enthusiastic about a certain cause. At the end of the day, those two things are exactly what drives your motivation to do well at something. If you are lacking both passion and enthusiasm, you will find that your performance will gradually decline. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to people. If someone asks you to help them out or take on a particular role, spend some time really considering it, especially if it is a weighty decision. Often if someone knows that you are a ‘yes’ person, they will use you as their go-to person. While you should not feel obliged to always say yes, it doesn’t mean you should stop altogether.

3. Stop saying no.
If you say ‘no’ too frequently, the amount of opportunities that have the potential to come your way will diminish – and it will happen fast. If you close yourself off, then you will never gain that extra bit of experience that could point you in the right direction. Don’t be scared of stepping outside of the confines of your comfort zone. Often, that is where the magic happens. It can be terrifying, don’t get me wrong, but you will always end up better for it on the other end. Whether you have learnt something new or acquired a new skill or maybe even had the opportunity to share your talents with others, you will find that you have also had the chance to grow as well. Sometimes you will get lucky and something new will land in your lap because of a person you have met or something you have done in the past. However, this typically doesn’t always happen, so you need to be open to trying new things. You may be adamant that your internship application will just be a speck in the hundreds of others that apply, but what have you got to lose? Show them you are passionate. Show them you are different from the rest and ready to tackle new challenges head on. Don’t wait for opportunities to find you, actively seek them instead. Patience can only get you so far, but eagerness and a curious mind will always lead you to open doors.

4. Stop waiting for your family to ring you.
Make a conscious decision that once or twice a week you will take five minutes out of your day to ring your family. Whether that is a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin – make it a priority. About a year or two ago,  I realised that I was constantly leaving it up to both my grandmother’s to ring and check up on me. I quickly decided that I wanted this to change. The relationship you have with your family is something so special and I was taking it for granted. Now, I make a conscious effort to ring them both at least once every week or two, depending on how busy my schedule is and what time I get home from Uni or work. Every time I end the phone call or give them a hug goodbye after seeing them, I now make sure I say, ‘love you!’ While this shouldn’t be some crazy, new phenomenon – for some reason it often feels natural to tell our partner that we love them every day, but when it comes to family, we ignore the simple ‘I love you’. Why do we find it so awkward to speak words of affirmation to our family? You don’t want it to be too late and have any regrets, so stop waiting for your family to ring you. Everyone gets busy and fitting in time to have a decent conversation can be difficult, but these relationships are incredibly special and you don’t want to lose that, because you’ll need them more than ever. Never underestimate the importance of a quick phone call or the importance of an ‘I love you’.

5. Stop worrying about what others think of you.
You know what they say – us ‘Millennials’ are experiencing the most severe identity crisis of all. Due to the emergence of social media within the last two decades, it’s pretty damn hard to argue against that. We constantly compare ourselves with the lives of those we may or may not know that appear on our screens. We pick and choose the parts of our lives that we showcase to others and we get so caught up on following the latest trends. We are growing up more socially awkward than ever, because we aren’t used to holding conversations that are not requiring us to only move our fingers and thumbs. We have become one of the most narcissistic generations in history – spending our own time (and sometimes money) trying to acquire people to be interested more in our lives rather than their own. Welcome to 2017! Placing your worth in the values that society has created will do nothing but feed the voices telling you that you will never be enough. If you keep seeking validation from people or things that don’t have the right to be dictating the way you live your life, then you will never be happy. You will find yourself temporarily happy until someone else tells you there is ‘just one more thing’ you can do or change to be even happier – it’s a never-ending cycle. Stop constantly trying to please other people rather than doing things for yourself.

6. Stop thinking you have to ‘do life’ a certain way.
It’s not hard to see why we are so easily falling into the trap of an identity crisis. Individuals asking themselves why their lives don’t quite match up to where it’s “supposed to be”. For starters – that’s a load of poo. The values and ideals that society creates to be ‘normal’ is not reality, but rather an augmented version of it that is unattainable. Stop comparing yourself to where others are in life – whether they are financially stable, have moved out of home, are in a relationship, have an amazing new job, or ha, just have a job. It is completely normal to freak the heck out when you reach your twenties! You not only have a slight existential crisis, but suddenly you realise that oh, this is where it gets real. Society tells you that in the next ten years you should basically have checked graduating, getting your first real job, finding a lifelong partner, moving out of home, potentially moving to another job, getting married, travelling and having kids, off the list. Sounds ideal, right? But who says this is the way it has to go? Set goals and have dreams that you aspire to achieve, but don’t freak out if it’s not all happening the way you planned – because, spoiler alert: it probably won’t.

While I am only skirting around the borders of turning twenty-one, I still have so much to learn when it comes to growing up. All I can say is, every year brings more opportunities to do just that and I will continue to use what I already know to help me become the best version of myself as I work through my twenties. So, to all my twenty-something year old friends out there, this one is for you. Let’s do this crazy decade together.

Keep smiling. x

Ten things I hate about you.

Yes, this is a rant post. But it’s not your usual rant. It’s a rant about me, to me. The other day my best friend asked me that wonderful question, ‘if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?’ But of course, rather than just making myself feel a small portion of self-loathe, I used up all the fingers I have to list a whopping ten. So no, this isn’t a juicy rant about an old friend or even a movie review (how good is that movie though!?). Instead this is a reflection about those ten things that I want to change about myself.

I strive for relatable content and each of my blog posts are one-hundred percent honest. A lot of the things I am going to share are very personal and with that comes vulnerability, so please, be nice. Before I start, I want to make it clear that the last thing I want this post to become is a sympathy call or a way for me to fish for compliments. I am sharing this, because I feel like self-loathing is, unfortunately, something natural that we all do on a regular basis, whether it is intentional or not. No matter how hard we try, it is incredibly difficult to be completely happy with ourselves – our appearance, behaviour or personality. For me, it’s a mixture of all three.

  1. Comparing. I compare myself to others all the time, it’s actually ridiculous. I know how unhealthy it is, but there are days where I will just come across a picture of a flawless woman or walk through a shopping centre and see a girl with the perfect style, beautiful hair and not a pimple in sight and automatically feel less happy with my appearance. 
  2. Impatience. Crying children, people taking too long to tell their story (which to be honest, I probably do way too often myself), waiting in queues . . . yeeeah, no thank you! 
  3. Forgiveness. I hold grudges. If someone took advantage of my trust or did or said something that hurt me in some way, I find it difficult to just forgive and forget. Moving on from situations, no matter how big or small, is something I struggle with. 
  4. Temper. I get frustrated very easily. If I have already mentioned to my Mum what days I am working during the week or what my plans are for the weekend, and then a few days later she asks me to remind her, I get annoyed and fail to recognise that I have lost my temper at something so insignificant. That said, I am never angry for very long – it really only takes a puppy, a shower or a Tim-Tam and I’m set! 
  5. Head to toe. I told you this was a personal post, so get ready for TMI (apologies in advance), but as most people, there are things I would love to change about my appearance. With a European background, I naturally have darker and thicker hair than most people, which is all well and good as I doubt I will ever go bald, BUT hairy arms, a snail trail and a girl-stache aren’t generally that attractive. I also hate my feet (actually, I just hate feet in general) and am in a love-hate relationship with what have remained my ‘bee stings’ since Year 7 (girls, this one’s for you). 
  6. People pleaser. Although I claim that I don’t, I care too much about what other people think of me. If people aren’t sitting right with me, then I’ll let them know and even if they are the ones in the wrong, I will still put in my own time and effort to try and fix the problem. 
  7. Organised. I like being organised, which is usually a good thing. If a plan hasn’t been sorted or if there is an issue that needs to be resolved I will do all I can to get it done, but this can sometimes come across as being bossy. 
  8. Easily distracted. I am great at the whole ‘talking’ thing, but unfortunately I am a terrible listener. I try really hard, but I get distracted incredibly easily. I need to be completely focused and in the right frame of mind, otherwise I can almost guarantee that you don’t have my full attention. 
  9. Stubborn. I stand up for what I believe in and I like to think that I am open-minded. However, when I get passionate about a topic, particularly in conversations with my parents, I will go out of my way to get my point across and in some cases disagree just to prevent giving in or avoid admitting that I am wrong.
  10. Delegation. This goes with being organised. I hate telling people what to do – I get awkward and it feels uncomfortable, so instead I just do it all on my own. I get bogged down with a lot of tasks, but in my head it’s easier to do it yourself and know the exact process of how it’s being completed. That way there are minimal mistakes and there is no one else to blame but yourself. It all sounds like a perfect plan to begin with, but I have realised that although being a leader of a team requires a lot of effort, your team members are there to be given jobs. My job is to delegate and not doing that means I am not only giving myself more work, but not actually doing my job properly. 

After I finally took a breath and finished recalling the endless things I wish I could change about myself to my friend, the look on his face said it all. He looked at me so upset and when I asked him what was wrong, he simply said that he wondered how I could list to him all these things I didn’t like so effortlessly. It got me thinking, we so often focus on the things we would love to change about ourselves, whether it be physical or not, but rarely are we able to so easily list the traits we love

The thing that I have learnt from this is although self-loathing, to an extent, is almost a natural process, it is unhealthy. Why do we find it easier to hate than to love? Why is it easier to pick out our imperfections, rather than be content with the fact that no one else is flawless either? I am not saying to simply ignore these things, but if there are traits or habits that can be changed, like impatience or constantly comparing yourself to others, then make it a goal to do something about it!

In order to show love to others, you must first love yourself. I know I’m not the only one that struggles with this, so I encourage anyone else to join me in writing down a few things you don’t like about yourself on a piece of paper and then go outside with a lighter, some matches or a lit candle and burn that bad boy up, because the negativity and the self-loathing stops here. You are so much more than those words on that paper. Your value and worth lies beyond that. Focus on the things that make you beautiful, caring, funny, loving, loyal, strong, trustworthy – the things that make you, ‘you’. We live in a pretty messed up world. Don’t waste your time trying to achieve the unattainable standards that society sets for us. Learn to love yourself for who you are and always strive to be the best version of you that you can possibly be. Who’s with me?

Keep smiling. x