Five years, ago when I hit what I thought was the ginormous milestone of 25 (hahahaha, oh 25 year old me, shut up) I wrote a blog post titled ‘Shit I thought I would have sorted out by now’. As I’ve somehow survived a further five years and hit 30, despite the best (read worst) driving efforts, an appreciation of fine (read: any) wine, and a hobby that involves convincing a half tonne animal with a mind of its own to trust me and my terrible spatial awareness, I figured I should write another listicle. This time I thought I would be positive and write about things I’ve at least started figuring out, progress, right?
As I actually turned 30 in May, I can tell you now, punctuality is not one of those things.
A fulfilling career is important but never as important as time with friends and family or just chilling the fuck out slumped on your sofa with a G&T and Netflix
I am as ambitious and career-driven as I’ve ever been. To my mind, we spend so much of our lives doing work (unless you’re one of those yummy mummies with the latest prams and Range Rovers blocking roads and pavements – I’m just waiting for them to block flight paths too with some sort of hybrid pram aeroplane, oh wait is that what they mean by helicopter parenting?), you might as well spend that time doing something you’re actually interested in.
Plus, I have zero interest in reproducing, so I guess I need things to expend time and energy on while my more maternal/paternal friends concentrate on lice outbreaks, emptying bank accounts to move into the right school catchment areas, and trying to find two minutes of peace and quiet from toys that sing ‘Let it go’ or some other Disney monstrosity.
But oh my god, having fun, and fun with people who genuinely care about you (June in HR doesn’t care about you, she just wants you to bloody fill in the self-certification of sickness form on time for once) is so much more important. People always say, when you’re on your deathbed you won’t lie there thinking ‘damn I wish I’d spent more time on that entirely meaningless meeting about a previous meeting’. They say ‘you’ll wish you spent more time with your loved ones’. Well I’m not on my deathbed, (although my life did flash before my eyes in a showjumping lesson the other day, but I was mostly just thinking ‘shit, this would be way too embarrassing to break my neck going over a set of jumps a particularly large rabbit could comfortably hop over’) but I can concur.
Unless it’s an absolute emergency (and be mindful that your boss’s definition of an emergency may have more to do with saving their own face rather than saving lives), go home on time. Give a great big hug to the people that really matter and ask them what the most random thought they’ve had today was. And use your weekends for going out and seeing the world, side-hustles or catching up on much needed sleep and movies/books. Those two days are a precious break that leave you more energised for that work and making money malarkey.
It’s ok to change your career ambitions
Five years ago, I was a full time journalist. Currently I work in a PR agency and in December I’m going in-house as a communications manager for a retirement villages operator, while occasionally doing freelance journalism and podcasting on the side.
I have struggled with that move, have asked myself, ‘have I failed?’. No I haven’t, journalism is a massively struggling industry and when you add on top of that it’s one where knowing the right people and having the right thing on your CV (*cough* MA in journalism from City University *cough*) to just be starting on a level playing field, getting as far as I did is a bloody miracle. I’m still a bit angry about that, but ultimately, what’s the point, I get paid more now and honestly, I am doing more interesting work.
I read a few years ago an interview in The Times with the new head of the British Museum, and I remember reflecting on whether I would want to be the person doing the interview or the head of the British Museum and actually changing up the ways people engage with history and culture.
You are allowed to change. Go be the change.
Throw out all tights that have ladders or holes in them
Don’t even entertain the thought they might work ok with one type of skirt. You will lose valuable minutes of your life and alarm flatmates, neighbours, passersby with your swearing.
Buy for the size you are
You will feel more self-conscious about any weight gain, if you stick with smaller clothes. Make yourself feel better and buy at least some essentials that fit.
Do follow the washing instructions
It will save you money and clothing heart ache.
There are two ingredients for a successful romantic relationship
I’m not religious but the Bible does occasionally get it right. And no I’m not about to suddenly channel that terrifying Bible Belt family Louis Theroux investigated, I’m specifically referring to a phrase from that oft-quoted verse in Corinthians that states “love is kind”. The number of conversations I’ve had with women at the start of relationships with men they are now marrying/have married where they’ve just looked at me in a shell-shocked way and said ‘he’s kind’, in the manner of announcing ‘he’s bright blue, wears a white hat and might possibly be a smurf’, is a sad testament to the behaviour of some men as it seems like a bloody basic thing to just be as a human.
So with that in mind, I would say a core ingredient of a successful relationship is ‘kindness’. If he/she is kind, they will make an effort to cheer you up, care about your thoughts, respect your needs, make time to be with you, be happy to be mutually silly with you, and you will feel comfortable being ill and producing unfortunate bodily fluids around them, and all those other good things etc.
This does need to be tempered with another key ingredient though – attraction, or you move over into friend territory. If you don’t want to shag them, and you both presumably don’t want to live a life of celibacy/’oh I guess we ought to, we haven’t done in months’ kind of thought processes, move on, you’ll just end up resenting each other.
Don’t bloody forget your friends
You may not want to do unspeakable things to them in shadowy corners, but true friends are indispensable. True friends drop everything to Uber over to your flat when you’re in floods of tears over an ex and will have packed bottles of gin and tonic in their rucksack. Whole bottles, not those puny M&S ready mixed cans.
Boyfriends/girlfriends come and go, but good friends are constant – if you make time for them, and treat them with the kindness and respect you would offer a partner. Otherwise you’re going to be very lonely.
(Plus friends are fun! That’s why you became friends, why would you neglect that in some weird rush of hormones? It’s like looking a gift horse in the mouth. Hands down some of the best holidays I’ve had have been with friends.)
Got nothing to offer you here. I took three holidays this year and just bought a Nutribullet in an attempt to eat more vegetables. I could just eat more vegetables and have saved myself £60.