The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
After recently celebrating my 22nd birthday and entering my final year of university, like most students I’m finding myself moving towards a period of transition as I work out who I am, who I want to be and what I want for my future. I tend to become quite reflective around my birthday and often think of how far I’ve come compared to the more challenging years of my life. Sometimes I wish I could talk to my younger self and give her some tips.
This is inspired from the slightly cringey ‘coming of age’ Buzzfeed articles but I’m hoping what I share is actually helpful. I don’t claim to be totally put together or know all of life’s best kept secrets but as an older sister and having been categorised by my friends as ‘the rational one’, I’ve often fancied myself as a good advice giver.
So here are a few things (22 to be specific!) that I’ve learnt throughout my life that I hope could be useful to you.
- This is the BEST recipe for tomato pasta, a great take on Spaghetti Puttanesca.
- You’ve heard it before and you’re hearing it again now, but the key to a good, healthy relationship (both romantic and platonic) is communication- shocking, right?
- If you can’t talk openly about sex, then you shouldn’t be having it.
- Look up more! My old art teacher used to encourage us to stop looking down at our phones or the ground. I noticed details I’d never realised before of routes I take all the time. It’s also always nice to look up at the sky.
- You could give someone the most valuable piece of advice they’ve ever heard but sometimes others need to make the same mistakes you did to learn the same lesson.
- As well, while advice can be incredibly helpful and valuable, sometimes people just want to be heard- it’s okay to ask the person what they want from you, so you understand how best to support them.
- Conversely, ask for help and support when YOU need it- don’t let it build up!
- Never wash your vagina with soap. Use unfragranced soap around your vulva and let the water do the rest to avoid things like bacterial vaginosis. Products such as Femfresh are just trying to take your money.
- Spend less time on social media. There’s plenty of studies showing the damaging effects of social media on our mental health so to me this is a no-brainer. I’ve had TikTok deleted for over six months now and I don’t regret it at all.
- If you have the means to go to therapy, do it.
- If therapy isn’t an option, scream– it’s the next best thing!
- NEVER shy away from a conversation about money- whether that’s discussing your wage in an interview, with your boss or a co-worker it is so, so important to have transparency with this sort of thing so you and others know you’re not being exploited.
- Don’t worry if your circle of friends gets more exclusive as you get older. I’ve found that I have less time for people who don’t add to my life and it’s perfectly okay to leave those people behind.
- Trust your gut. I have never regretted trusting what my body is telling me or listening to that niggling feeling.
- If someone (especially a man) listens to Joe Rogan, walk away. If they listen to the likes of Jordan Peterson or Ben Shapiro, run away.
- Always put money aside when you can. You never know when you might need a rainy-day fund.
- If you’re struggling with your mental health and are finding it hard to keep up with hygiene like brushing your teeth, keep floss by your bed- I don’t want to aid any unhealthy habits but it’s better than nothing.
- Check your privilege and stay informed. I’m a white cis-gender woman and I’ve found there’s always more to learn about how I’m perceived differently by society compared to others. You can’t meaningfully support positive societal change if you aren’t aware of the inequalities.
- As annoying and condescending as it can be when someone says meditation and exercise can help boost your mood, it’s true.
- It’s okay to not know what you want to do in life. There’s so much pressure put on our generation to have a grind mentality and constantly be working towards our goals, but it is totally okay to take your time.
- A work life balance is possible and it’s necessary.
- Prioritise spending money on experiences, like music gigs or travelling, rather than material objects. Things are temporary but memories are forever.