I've wanted to write a post like this for a while but I was unable to find the right context to share it in. How could I randomly share snippets of my worldly old lady wisdom without appearing to assume like I actually have a clue about adulthood? I didn't want to appear self indulgent! But according to Gretchen Rubin, that's exactly what's required if you want to be Happier.
You may have seen that I've recently announced my intention to spend 2018 doing another Happiness Project and with that comes creating your own 12 Commandments but also a more tongue in cheek 'Secrets of Adulthood' list. A list of all those little pearls of wisdom and rules you collect over the years that nobody really every talks about.
I didn't have to be asked twice!
I've gone for a list of 30, as I'm in my 30's, and writing these has been a fun way to examine my own values, boundaries and perception of the world. I absolutely recommend writing your own secrets of adulthood, even if it's just for a laugh, because everyone will have their own and I think it says so much about a person and what they want to pass on.
I reckon creating a new list every decade or so would be interesting hindsight don't you think? I can't imagine how different my list would be as a 20 year old!
My 30 Secrets of Adulthood
- You are your own best teacher and you should continue to learn and teach yourself for the rest of your life. Don't just leave school or University and stop. You have the capacity to achieve ANYTHING. Your brain is your greatest tool. Let your curiosity guide you.
- Don't waste time arguing with strangers on the internet. Ever. Just walk away and find something far more valuable to do with your time. This blog, social media, Instagram, it's all one power cut away from disappearing. It's not real life. Look up.
- Never wait for anyone. Say goodbye with love, and move on. Anyone worth waiting for wouldn't expect you to wait for them anyway.
- People change. You can change. Oh. And you AREN'T predestined to end up just like your mum/dad/siblings/nan if you don't want to be. Your life is entirely in your control and history doesn't have to repeat itself.
- Nobody is ever seriously ready to have children. You can NOT prepare for the level of crazy they bring to your life. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.
- The wealthiest person in a room will probably be wearing jeans, trainers and look like a right scruff because a) they get their hands dirty and b) have nothing to prove to anyone. My father-in-law gave me that advice and it's weirdly accurate. Someone draped in diamonds suggests they're good at spending but not very good as business. Just saying.
- Empty barrels make the most noise. Exhibit A: Political commentators.
- Have kitchen discos. I will lie and say it's good exercise but actually it's just because nobody ever grows up and we still want to make up dance routines to ABBA occasionally.
- Food, and Sex, are two of life's greatest pleasure. Enjoy them but don't wield them as weapons. Against yourself, or others.
- There's no rush. Go 5% slower then everyone else. Look for the detail. That's when you find the magic. That's when you spot the deer picking its way through the trees. That's when you find a £20 note on the floor. That's when you relax and appreciate what's around you.
- Despite what you've been told 'travelling' probably isn't going to enlighten you or make you a better adult. Experience does. So don't feel bad if you can't afford to travel or you just don't want to. You can learn just as much about the world and yourself from home.
- Michelin star restaurants are worth saving for. They're never going to serve you crap food and you'll know exactly how something is supposed to taste- you may find you even actually like something you normally hate when it's prepared properly. Plus everyone should eat in a top restaurant at least once in their lives.
- Always. Share. Share. Share. SHARE. Use as much of your power, influence and love to raise up others less privileged then you.
- Hormones, genetics and metabolism have a lot to answer for. Have fun with your biology. Don't punish yourself for not being something or someone else. There's room for you on Earth exactly as you are whether that's with bright pink hair, cystic acne or a six pack.
- You can say goodbye to anyone at any point. That includes family, long term friends, your boss... no one is entitled to be a part of your life. 'But they need me' is a shit excuse to put yourself through toxic, one-sided, parasitic or empty relationships. Plus you're enabling them. Step back and let them take responsibility for their own bad behaviour. They might become better people if you do.
- Respect the emergency services. Get out of their way. Let them do their job. Don't exploit them. Learn from them.
- Just because you can't afford your work doesn't mean someone else can't. Don't sell yourself cheap. EVER. Despite what your mum says. Despite the 'economic climate'. One of my first clients had dropped £10,000 on an artwork that year alone! He questioned why I was so 'cheap' with suspicion... he wanted to invest in me, NOT get a bargain.
- Drinking more water and cutting out sugar probably won't change your life. Sorry.
- Pick role models who have more experience then you or have already done it. They may not be as exciting or glamorous as some kid on YouTube but they're more likely to know what they're talking about and will want to actually help, rather then are trying to sell you something
- Being able to pay your tax and bills is an HONOUR. It means someone trusts your ability to generate an income, meet a financial commitment and contribute to society. It's all about perspective.
- There's no such thing as talent. Some people just find things easier to pick up then you do. Lack of talent should not be an excuse for you to not attempt something new. Go learn it slowly, step by step, like everyone else.
- You are not broken and you do not need fixing. (This really helped me once)
- Speaking from experience, if you're lonely, get busy. Roll up your sleeves and give yourself 1-2 weeks to dedicate to a new project. I can almost guarantee that the moment you zone out and start enjoying the activity someone will stick their nose in and ask what you're up to. If not, you will have forgotten about your loneliness anyway and will have achieved something for yourself. Repeat.
- Your purpose, or the greatest gift you give the world, could be something as simple has healing yourself. Breaking a cycle. Inspiring someone. You don't need to go to the moon or find a cure for cancer to be valuable human being. We need happier people in the world. That is enough.
- Invest in good shoes. Not designer shoes. GOOD QUALITY SHOES. Do not underestimate the damage bad shoes can do to your feet.
- People notice it when you make an effort or not. If you can't be bothered- ask yourself why. There's a world of difference between being comfortable and being indifferent. Plus making an effort and going the extra mile is a super quick way to feeling good.
- You'll be amazed at how many problems other adults make for themselves and then blame others for. And you'll be no different. Growing up involves taking responsibility for the problems we get dealt and figuring a way to overcome it. Hopefully with some grace. Often kicking and screaming (but that's okay). Just don't get stuck waiting for someone else to rescue you. Only YOU can save yourself.
- Read. And judge books by their cover. Life is too short for ugly book covers. (Force publishers to hire more illustrators.)
- Never, ever, EVER be afraid of bankruptcy, divorce, illness, recessions or redundancy. Exploit them. The worse thing you can do is close your eyes and hope they never happen. They DO. But bankruptcy could be good business sense. Divorce can heal you. Illness can lead you to love. A recession could get you on the property ladder. Redundancy might give you the chance to pursue your dream job. I've seen all these things happen.
- Get rid of anything in your life that doesn't spark joy.
Above all live every day like it matters. Even if you know it's your last. Even if you're afraid time is running out. Even if you're oblivious. It's still your time. It's still your day. It's still a life worth living like it will go on forever.