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

How to be happy: rule #1

As a Communications student majoring in Digital and Social Media, it is safe to say that I spend a lot of time talking about, learning about and of course using Facebook, Instagram, you name it. The other day I was on Instagram and came across this quote:

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

It is so true. We are continuously trapped in this vicious cycle of comparing ourselves with other people. Simply thinking that their social media profile is full of amazing, flawless pictures automatically means that their life must be perfect and they’ve got it all together, right? Wrong.

I think we tend to forget how much of a superficial world we live in today. And I’m writing to myself here as well. Almost every picture you see is edited in one way or another. One filter can cover all the blemishes, or hey if you’re not wearing makeup that day, just resort to the old-fashioned black and white – they’ll never be able to tell. But this isn’t the main problem. Social media is a perfect way for us as individuals to share our life with others with a simple click of a button. The thing that we often forget, is that we only share what we want to share – we get to pick and choose what parts of our life other people get to see. This is the same for that girl, or guy, you have been stalking on Instagram for the last twenty minutes. We filter through (pun intended) the thirty-two almost identical selfies and pick the one we like the best.

Don’t compare your life with another person’s newsfeed. Just like you, they are probably only sharing the parts of their life that will get them the most ‘likes’. I am not saying this is a bad thing or you should delete all of your social media accounts because they are from the devil. If that was the case, I think I am studying the wrong degree. Rather, I want this to be an encouragement, even just for one person, to be open-minded and consider that what you are seeing doesn’t necessarily depict what is going on in their ‘behind-the-scenes’. Everyone experiences ups and downs in life, because spoiler alert – that’s life. Just because you’re not seeing it on their newsfeed, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. So next time you are scrolling through your different social media accounts, keep that in mind, because one of the best rules to being happy is to stop comparing yourself to others.

I heard a pastor say during his sermon the other day that although it is still an issue, money is no longer the primary roadblock getting in the way of our relationship with God. Instead, it is this growing trend of narcissism. WE ultimately drive the wedge further between God and us. 

“Don’t become so well-adjusted and conform to the pattern of this world that you fit into it without even thinking” – Romans 12:2 (NIV & MSG). 

We focus too much on ourselves that we forget that all of this is just temporary. The love of God and his promise of life with Him – now that’s something that lasts forever.

Keep smiling. x

Hey God.

Last week really tested my relationship with God. I got home early during my double study period on Wednesday afternoon. I was emptying my lunchbox when I realised only one of my two dogs were home. 


When I said hello to my parents I asked where Mango was; our crazy little red-head Border Collie, and they said that she was at the Vet. She was in the middle of an operation where a hole was being drilled into the side of her head to release pressure that had built up over time. This was the second time she had an operation to remove the pressure. Even though it was causing her pain, on the outside she looked like the normal, crazy, cheeky, fun and energetic dog we looked forward to coming home to every afternoon for the last eight years. 

This afternoon, however, was quite different. I sat down on the floor with Maxi by my side, our black and white Border Collie. I distracted myself with my homework and decided that I should pray. I talked to God for about ten solid minutes. I thought it was a pretty good effort. I asked him if he could heal Mango and make sure that the message from the Vet to my mum would be positive feedback. “Amen.”

About twenty minutes later the phone rang and Mum answered it. She had it on loud speaker and I listened, waiting patiently for the ‘positive feedback’. His answer was not what I intended. It wasn’t what I asked God for only minutes prior to this moment. 

“Cathy, we are in the middle of the operation and things aren’t looking too good at all. Mango’s skull is actually black, it is soft and crumbling. It is literally falling apart. The cancer has spread around her head and the pressure will only just keep coming back. She is in so much pain and I believe the best thing to do is to keep her asleep. Of course though, it is your call. What would you like me to do?” I looked at Dad, thinking that he would tell Mum to allow them to wake Mango up so we could say our last goodbyes before she was gone forever. But no. It was, in fact, the exact opposite that happened. 

“No, if she is in that much pain and it is that serious, don’t wake her up.” Really God? Really. Did you even hear me or was I just talking to myself? That’s it. She was gone. Just like that. 

I guess, at first, I blamed God for it all. For taking our beloved dog away. She was part of the family; Maxi’s best friend. And now, he was going to be lost, wandering around waiting for her to never return. It was heart breaking watching him look around the backyard for her. Many tears and tissues later, I began to really think about what had happened rather than just flood myself in grief. God wasn’t to blame. He had heard my prayer, but he had also done the best thing for Mango. I was so selfish. She was in so much pain and all I could think about was myself and how much I would miss her. 

It was only then that I realised my family had to be in pain for a short-time emotionally in order for Mango to be physically pain-free forever. I suppose sometimes we really need to stop and remember that God’s plan may not always go the way we hoped, but His plan is always better in the end. We just have to scrape past the initial surface to see what lies beneath. The little bumps along the way may hurt us; emotionally or physically, but these things make us stronger and with God’s strength, we can make it through anything.

Keep smiling. x