This week I turned twenty-six years old: that makes it ten years since I left school; eight years since I left Basingstoke; seven years since I started university. The past few years have brought s o m u c h growth: I’m becoming more myself every day, and although it’s a painful process at times, I can look back and see how much God has done in me. I wish I could show the sixteen year old kid who hated school a picture of what life would look like in a few years time; and if you’re in that place, then know this: i t g e t s b e t t e r.
I learnt this year that the human body essentially recreates itself every six months. Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies, and another is directed to its’ place. That is: you are not the same person that you were a year ago; and in the same way, God is constantly renewing us. You are not the same person that you were a year ago, and you won’t be the same in a years’ time; things are always on the move, and you are not stuck.
Around my birthday, I started thinking about some of the things that I’ve learnt over the years. Some are deep, some are basic, some are just for me and some might help you. So here we are:
Twenty-Six Things I’ve Learnt in Twenty-Six Years
1 – It won’t last. It was a piece of advice that was shared by a parent (the tantrums won’t last long – stick it out!); but I think the same is true of life. The bad days won’t last, life moves on and another day will dawn; and in the same way, the smiles only last as long as you can find the joy. You’ve got to keep looking for that stuff.
2 – Just because someone says something, it doesn’t make it right. Their opinions do not invalidate you.
3 – I am a procrastinator – particularly when stressed, tired, worried or anxious. Personally, I need to start with the difficult thing, and the rest will follow. Also, be gentle on yourself; unproductiveness does not equal failure.
4 – Although asking for help might seem like the weak thing to do, it’s actually the strong thing to do.
5 – Being book-smart doesn’t make you smart, and not being book-smart doesn’t make you stupid. Compassion, empathy, wisdom and life-smarts win out.
6 – B u d g e t y o u r m o n e y . Get that cash out, put it in envelopes and know what you’re spending; steward what has been given to you well.
7 – Give to God first. Everything you have comes from Him anyway – and that first chunk sets your trust solidly in Him. He’s got your back, and He’ll prove it time and time again.
8 – A year isn’t a lot of time.
9 – I grew up with a fear of lots of food, and overcoming that has been one of the biggest factors to being able to enjoy life as an adult. You do not need to accept fears as the way things are – and sometimes overcoming a fear is as easy as doing that thing once. Eat the banana.
10 – Lin Manuel Miranda is a genius, and Hamilton is my weakness. I am not giving away my shot.
11 – I am a two on the Eneagram, and knowing that is super helpful. Google it.
12 – Work out your own opinions, rather than borrowing them from other people. Your opinion has value.
13 – Drink a bit less Pepsi Max, and a bit more water. It’s good for your brain.
14 – Generally, talking about things helps you to be better at them. Bad habits. Money. Mental health. The way you think about yourself. Openness breeds change.
15 – Moving to Cambridge is the best thing you will ever do. (Although this sounds like this is personal to me, it’s not. You should move to Cambridge. It’s the best.)
16 – Running is great.
17 – I’ve learnt some basic British Sign Language and I am loving it. I want to learn more about this by this time next year.
18 – No-one has it all together; everyone is muddling along and making it up as they go along.
19 – Being single and happy is better than the alternative. Stick it out; God’s got you.
20 – Banana pancakes on a Saturday morning: 1 banana, two eggs and a pinch of baking powder. Fry it and flip it. Thank me later.
21 – Charity shops are the best, particularly in Cambridge, with our rich people and their designer brands. It’s the cheapest way to shop, there are so many gems, and it’s the best way of avoiding fast fashion and the sweat-shops that come along with it (or at least not add to the problem).
22 – I learnt that going vegan is the most effective thing that we can do individually to help the environment – and I also learnt that for lots of reasons, I’m not that OK with the process of meat production. But, for some reason, I am still currently a meat eater. This has got to be a blog post of it’s own, and it’s also something I want to be different in a years’ time.
23 – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller is my favourite book. You should read it.
24 – Ask more questions, and listen more than you talk.
25 – Instagram is great – but, like work emails, I need to switch it off sometimes. I’m learning to do this better.
26 – Every year, look back and notice what God has done in the past year. He’s given you a good life.