Sunday, 7 January 2018

27 Lessons For My 27th Birthday

It’s new years day and the 27th anniversary of my birth. Having a birthday on new years day is, for lack of a better word, horseshit. Not only are the majority of my loved ones hungover from drinking until 4am, they are also tired, fresh out of cash and in no mood to pay attention to me. I don’t blame anyone for this, other than my selfish parents who were bad at planning (and despite several requests, they refused to allow me to have a second birthday in the summer like the Queen - I’m pretty sure the Queen get’s two birthdays but to be honest, I’m slightly tipsy and cba to Google it).  

For the first time, I have decided to take my birthday in to my own hands and this year I treated myself to 2 nights away in the New Forest. I am currently living my best life in my beautiful (and fancy af) garden suite room, I have a mimosa to the left of me, wrapped up in a cosy robe and slippers which have been provided by my hotel and I have consumed more chocolate then anyone should, ever. This is the romantic birthday getaway I’ve always dreamed of. Happy birthday to me.

Anyway, my birthday falling on the start of a new year always feels like an ideal time for some ‘life tweaks’ and although I’m not a fan of ‘New Years Resolutions’, I am a fan of setting myself achievable goals based on lessons learned in the past. For instance, next year I’d like to be less complacent generally in life. This is something I have learnt about myself over the past 12 months, I am incredibly complacent due to my hatred of change so this is something I'd really like to examine and work on in 2018. 

In the theme of reflecting on lessons learned and in honour of my 27th year on this planet, I have written a list (fuck, I love lists!) of 27 lessons that I have picked up in the past 9,490 days:

*Obviously, these are all personal to me and my experiences.

1. Travelling alone is the best way to travel. I prefer train journeys alone, solo flights and trips away with me, myself and I. I’ve had a few trips alone now and just find them to be a bit more relaxing and I don’t have the guilt of being an annoyance to someone when I want to wander around Duty Free in airports 7 times before my flight. Usually I’ll wander in once briefly and then have a few Bellini’s with my giant full english breakfast and insist on going back in 6 times. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t travel alone. Although I enjoy the odd trip with a loved one, I try to take myself away on a little ‘Fayecation’ at least twice a year so I can get all of my favourite holiday pastimes out of my system - these include waking up early, reading/writing in complete silence for hours at a time, refusing to wear any clothing until I have to leave my hotel room for food and day drinking in bathtubs. 

2. Drunk phone calls are NEVER a good idea and will NEVER get the results you are hoping for (unless all you’re hoping for is ‘next day dread’ or a booty call from a vile ex). Despite them always feeling like a fantastic idea after 8 gins, they never are and I’ve never made a drunken call and felt good about it the next day. Never. I once called an ex boyfriend at 3am because my friend was vomiting (due to too much booze) and I explained to him that ‘I remember you told me once that you hated the smell of vomit, so my pal chundering all over my bathroom made me think of you, I miss your face’. He never spoke to me again and I think about that call almost daily. The shudders are real, people.

3. Black coffee is not only delicious but it makes you look chic as fuck. I work in a beautiful office that is filled to the brim with beautiful milk-thieves so changes needed to be made and stubbornly I stopped buying milk for my coffees/colleagues coffees. That led to a forced admiration for black coffee and now I even drink it at home, of my own volition (with a sweetener because I’m not quite ‘full Parisian’ yet), delicious. Seriously, I drink it at home EVEN when I have other beverage options! Nothing makes me feel more like a grown-ass-woman. (I bet Meryl Streep also loves black coffee - what DON’T we have in common?!|)

4. Just because I’m not shy, doesn’t mean I’m not an introvert. I am a reasonably outgoing person and can be loud (and incredibly obnoxious at times) but I am also an introvert - you can be both, shocking, I know. I first learned the true definition of being an introvert when I read Amy Schumer’s book (‘The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo’ - I highly recommend it) and it felt like a weight had been lifted. After a lot of research and chats with councillors, I finally understood why I act the way I do - I can be loud, I can be funny but I can also need my time alone to recharge and moments in the day when I need to be silent and in my own thoughts. After a few hours of socialising, my energy is gone and I often pull a Houdini (slyly leave a party without saying goodbye to anyone - I usually achieve this by saying I’m going to the loo). I’m not shy, I am an introvert and just need my alone time.

5. I am VERY fortunate to have a sister who doubles as a best friend. Over the past few years especially, I have realised how special my relationship with Kara is. She is the first person I want to speak to when I’m upset, the first person I want to tell my good news to and the only person on this planet that I can spend continual days and nights with and not be sick of them. She can always make me laugh, she let’s me rant her ears off when I’ve had a bad day and she makes everything more fun. She’s even adorable when forcing me to take selfies with her - doesn’t sound too bad but she never likes the first 18 attempts and it quickly becomes a chore. Plus, I’ve noticed that when I’m having my picture taken, I stop breathing. So…her constant selfie attempts are actually life-threatening to me. 

6. You should NEVER talk politics with family. Making it through the Brexit vote and 2017’s general election without permanently disowning several members of my blood family is a tiny miracle. Don’t even get me started on some of my families opinions on Trump…

7. I’m at my best when I’m creating. Nothing makes me happier than creating something, even if it’s utter shite or a blog post no one will read *coughs*. I get such endorphins from creating something from nothing - if this is what hard drugs are like, maybe I will give them a go!

8. Shopping for anything other than food and dvd’s is a stress-filled shit show. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a lazy mall stroll (or a ‘Grandma Stroll’ as I lovingly call it), a leisurely stroll around Westfields shopping centre on a chilled Sunday morning with a coffee is one of my favourite pastimes but the second I have to go shopping for anything specific or an outfit for an occasion, it all goes downhill, fast. Maybe it’s my current position on the higher end of the clothing size in all high street shops but the stress shopping with an actual intention causes is horrible and those are the days you NEVER find what you’re looking for (because ‘god’ loves watching us all fail)! Spending countless weekends this year searching for an outfit for my best friends wedding was so exhausting and awful for my mental health, I genuinely considered spending £599 on a designer dress so the pain would be over - but then I remembered how poor I am and walked straight back in to Zara. 

9. Just because something is popular and your friends love it, doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to enjoy it. Prime example: I hate going clubbing and have spent countless nights drinking heavily in cheesy clubs whilst wearing uncomfortable heels, being beyond miserable on the inside and counting down the minutes until it’s an appropriate time to go home via McDonalds JUST because some friends fancied it and I was too scared they’d think I was a loser if I said I didn’t want to go. It’s okay to not do things you don’t want to - as my best friend tells me every time I give myself a hard time for not wanting to do things others find fun, ‘Treat Yourself’ and have a night in instead! I love nothing more than an early night and an early morning - and house music is terrible, I don’t believe anyone who says its good. Another example: I thought ‘The Last Jedi’ was incredibly underwhelming. THERE. I said it.

10. Be selective with photos. A few years ago, I wouldn’t read a new book, go anywhere, buy something or eat a meal without feeling the need to share it with the world via social media. Experiences of any kind weren’t worth anything to me unless I posted at least 1,095,362 photographs of it so I could prove to friends, family & strangers that I was living life to the fullest and doing cool things. Turns out, no one cares about what you’re doing nearly as much as you care. I rarely look back on photos of trips or gigs and think “thank ‘GOD’ I took 14 photo albums worth of pictures from that event! The weather WAS great that day, I was worried I’d remembered it wrong!” its unnecessary. I went away to Florida in October and for the first time, I just took photos of the things I truly wanted to remember and most of these live privately on my phone now because they were taken solely for my benefit. I shared a few nice holiday snaps on my Instagram but I tried to use the ‘quality over quantity’ method this holiday (and I desperately wanted to show off how nice the weather was). Whenever I see people posting several collages worth of photos from a single night out, I instantly think they weren’t having a genuinely good time. You don’t have to prove to the world that you’re having a good time, just have a good time, hon.

11. I don’t suit fringes and need to stop trying to make them work. I have what some would refer to as a ‘moon face’. By this, I mean that my face resembles a child's illustration of a human - a circle for a head. I have tried having a fringe hairdo (or ‘bangs’ to any American’s out there) around 7 times and it’s been a consistently appalling decision. It just doesn’t work and I’m hoping that writing it down might stop me from convincing myself in the near future that ‘this time I WILL look like Sienna Miller’. I even got drunk and cut my own fringe once and strangely enough, that was the best attempt yet (I received a few compliments but in hindsight, I fear that people thought I’d gone a bit ‘Girl Interrupted’ and were merely concerned I was having a mental breakdown.)

12. Friendships should be 50/50 and if they aren’t, you gotta ditch that bitch. I am very lucky to have some fantastic friends and although theres only a small handful that I would refer to as my best friends, they are worth their weight in gold - friendships are the only thing in life I refuse to settle for. I spent most of my teens/early twenties settling for bad friendships and primarily being attracted to selfish people but I have had to let go of 3 friendships in the last 3 years because they were truly toxic and incredibly one-sided. I started becoming one of those dickheads that focused so much on the negative people, I’d simply ignore the positive humans in my life. If I’m sitting and listening to your problems for hours at a time and you respond to any of my brief woes with a jovial shrug and ‘It’ll get better…anyway, this girl at work…’ then I’ll stop wasting both of our time. Now I have a rule, for every moment I focus on a friend that’s upset me or is acting weird toward me, I focus my mind on the good friends I have and send a little sweet text letting them know I’m thinking of them or I arrange a meet-up with someone I love. Channel those negative vibes and if someones good to you, give them your attention, they deserve it.

13. I will go to great, ugly and disgusting lengths to make my family and my friends laugh. Most of my relationships consist of us egging one other on and attempting to one up each other - and nothing makes me happier. This is why I can’t take a truly good candid photo, I’m always pulling some dumb face or standing in an unflattering manner in an attempt to make someone laugh. My face and body are my greatest comedy tools.

14. Your age shouldn’t determine your interests! I still love Disney and will continue to vacation there when money allows it (those Mickey Mouse shaped pretzels don’t come cheap!) - I get judged for this quite often, ironically the majority of the people that judge my love for my childhood ‘happy place’ are the same people who have an unhealthy obsession with a spectacled boy wizard… I hate the notion of being forced to grow out of interests so I like what I like, and bitch, I can like DisneyWorld whilst still enjoying Nick Broomfield documentaries and reading 'The Vagina Monologues' in my free time.

15. Avocados are overrated and a bit tasteless. I’m sorry but I’ve spent too long pretending to like them. Unless it’s in the form of Guacamole and paired with some salty tortilla chips, I don’t want any part of that green mush. They are a high maintenance grocery to buy and I simply don’t need the added stress.

16. Racecar is spelt the same way when you read it backwards. This fact is a real hit at parties (I rarely go to parties).

17. If I need to recharge after a stressful period, nothing is more effective than listening to a great audiobook or podcast (usually ‘Desert Island Discs’ or ‘How Did This Get Made’), getting an delicious syrup filled coffee and aimlessly wandering somewhere beautiful like Hampstead Heath (this also doubles as a great place to make some dog-friends. Top Tip: keep your headphones in so you can sufficiently ignore the owners of these furbabes). Or I like to visit South Bank and internally mock the tourists for going to the terrible, overpriced attractions like Madame Tussauds. Those silly, dopey fools. A great walk with a nice soundtrack is the cheapest therapy I can get and I wish I’d figured this out a lot sooner.

18. Food colouring WILL change the colour of your poop. Sorry, I know it’s a gross statement but its a lesson I learned this year and I felt it was worth a mention. I will not be answering any follow up questions on this matter, thank you. 

19. Despite my irrational fears, sharks cannot find their way in to any swimming pool I am residing in and they will not pop up in my bath and eat me. This one is still yet to be proven but if I lie to myself and say it’ll never happen, maybe I’ll actually start to believe it. I can thank my sister for this phobia - during my baths as a child, she’d love nothing more than turning the lights off, locking me in the bathroom and humming the Jaws theme loudly until I physically threw myself out of the tub.

20. Your ‘flaws’ matter more to you than anyone else! The list of things I would change about myself is longer than a dull day at work but the flaws I stress about and fear people will point out, for the most part, only matter to me. I’ve always been extremely self conscious of going out socially without make up on and until recently, only a handful of friends had seen my makeup-free mug but after having consistent allergic reactions to some products, I started regularly going to work with almost no make up on and guess what? No one cared. No one made negative comments or made fun of me, instead, people were kind, told me I looked nice and complimented my skin. I expected to arrive at work and be marched out of the building by villagers yelling at me whilst holding fire torches but instead it was a confidence boost and I now regularly opt out of a full face of slap for work - the additional bonus is that I get more time in bed. Everybody wins. Apart from the cosmetic companies but most of them put blusher on chimps so, they’re wankers anyway. 

21. You should never trust a person who hates animals. I, for the most part, dislike the majority of humans but have been proven time and time again in 2017 that it’s a justifiable hatred. Humans are kind of the worst but animals are fantastic. This isn’t up for debate. To me, hating animals is like someone hating films or music - those people should be avoided at all costs (this also goes for anyone who is a genuine fan of Nicolas Cage - avoid!)

22. Monopoly always seems like it will be fun in theory…but nothing brings the mood of a night in with friends down faster then being 10 minutes in to a game of Monopoly and mutually realising how dull it actually is. After fighting over who gets to be the top hat, it’s simply a buzzkill.

23. When people say ‘money can’t buy happiness’ they are lying. Although being wealthy wouldn’t get rid of all of my problems, it would rid of me the money-related stress dreams, the strenuous monthly budgeting I have to do and the fun social occasions I have to opt out of towards the end of the month when money is tight. A couple of years ago, I was in a much higher paid job and hate to admit that I was a bit happier thanks to my lack of money stress. I enjoyed being able to treat myself more when I was sad, I could put sufficient money away in my savings and I would regularly booze the night away without having to seek out venues with a cracking 'happy hour'…So what I’m saying is, give me some money.

24. If I drink anything more than 1 glass of white wine, I will suffer for the next 24 hours. I have extreme PTSD from this past summer where I drank a bottle of white wine in soho and spent over an hour vomiting in the bar toilets whilst my friend sat upstairs alone, waiting to see if I made it out alive. The next day was my everest. Never again. White wine isn’t even tasty enough to be worth it to me. It tastes like urine, agreed? Good.

25. ‘Paying it forward’ gives me the greatest feeling. Whether it’s small things like giving away beauty products I haven’t used to friends, donating clothes to clothes banks, leaving a book I have read and enjoyed in a park with a little note in the front for the new owner or giving away spare tickets to events when your friend can’t attend at the last minute, it warms my soul to pay it forward. It will often make someones day and you’ll get such a love buzz. Also, karma, am I right?!

26. Embrace the body you’re in because it’s the only one you’re gonna get, toots. I have spent so much of my life hating the body I am in but this past year I have had my own personal moments of ‘bravery’. I spent an entire spa day in a bathing suit and strutted around like a fucking sassy peacock, I went for walks on the beach in nothing but a high waisted 50’s style bikini and I have spent 99% of the time in my flat wandering around ‘pooh bear style’ (in a t-shirt and no bottoms - shoutout to my flatmates for putting up with this). Embracing my body in these small ways feels great and although I have a long way to go with accepting the skin I’m in, it feels amazing to finally feel a bit more free being me. You look in that mirror honey, get your birthday suit on and you loudly tell yourself 3 things you love about your body!

27. Journalling daily has become like therapy to me. On January 1st 2014, I was feeling quite down after a fight with my Mum over a trip to Ikea (seriously.) and decided to write down some thoughts. The next day I did the same thing and 4 years later, I have documented (almost) every single day since. Thoughts, feelings, ideas and memories. It’s soothing to have a place that I can say anything, I can be completely candid and I can rid my mind of the thoughts I’ve been dwelling on. I can’t imagine a life where I don’t journal now and it’s truly the only thing I have been able to ‘stick to’ (apart from overeating). Over the 4 years, I have missed 5 days, 4 of which were my first trip to Download Festival a few years ago where I couldn’t find a pen/was too drunk and the 5th was a while ago when my drink was spiked and I lost myself for 24 hours (a story for a different time). I love reading my journal entries back and studying the ways in which I have changed as a person and remembering small moments I might have otherwise forgotten - and as someone who finds cute stationary practically pornographic, the annual buying of new notebooks is one of my yearly highlights. 

So there it is, 27 things I have learned about myself, the world and the people around me. When sitting down to write this, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with 27 separate things but it flowed from me like that 'blood elevator' scene in The Shining. There’s nothing quite like purging pages of thoughts at the end of a year. Happy New Year!

 Love Faye xoxo