I’m not very good at maths, so there could be a mistake but somehow I’m turning 20. I’m scared, I didn’t sign up for this! Reality is starting to sink in and I’m asking for anti-aging cream as birthday presents because I AM SO OLD. Can I still listen to Hannah Montana on Spotify? Can I still call my mum asking how long pasta takes to boil EVERY time? Can I still steal toilet roll from uni because I’m too broke to bless my bum with Andrex? Guess we will find out!
There’s something about 20 that seems surreal, because it’s such a milestone birthday yet everyone celebrates 21 more. But I don’t have enough blog ideas, sooooo I thought I’d grow my ego a bit and as a wise old owl, gloat about what I’ve achieved! *granting you permission to close tab*
- Overcoming my OCD
One of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through was having severe OCD aged 9 until 11 and being on medication alongside regular counselling. I’m saving this for a full blog post but in brief I had to battle against my compulsions and learnt to gain control and respect for my mind in order to achieve all the other 19 things on this list. I look back in awe of my nine-year-old self and am forever grateful for having the strength and support to learn to manage my OCD, which still is part of my daily routine.
2. Overcoming Fake Friends
This no doubt will be on everyone’s list as the inevitable snide comments and code words fly around the year 8 P.E. changing room, we’ve all been there and probably on both ends to be honest. Fake friends in school are as common as maths lessons, inevitable but forgettable when you stop doing it!
3. The ‘Ugly’ Stage
I’m still a firm believer that this isn’t a stage, it’s a lifestyle as I think I peaked at age four, but I no longer have pink braces and wear green headbands! Thank god for social media not being around much growing up!
4. JLS Breaking Up
Pretty self explanatory, but this was my first heart break and needed a day of school to cope.
Like with OCD, Scoliosis has been one of the hardest battles I’ve faced. From wearing a back brace for two years, to scoliosis spinal fusion surgery and tendentious in my recovery, it definitely hasn’t been easy. But it has also made me who I am today, realise who truly has my *crippled* back and made me one ballsy, determined, and motivated 5’2 and a half (it matters!) girl!
I can honestly say that GCSEs and A Levels are the hardest and worst times of your life! How I got through, regardless of grades, I have no idea as right now I can barely get through 8 hours of uni a week! But it really does teach you how to get down to it and work your arse off!
7. Travelling with Friends
At the age of 16 I was able to travel Israel for one month with 40 strangers. It was the most action-packed four weeks, exploring historic sites, hiking, visiting museums and markets and learning a so many new cultures – from Bedouin tribe, to different categories of Israelis’ and religions and white Jewish Princess!) It was one of those trips that you don’t realise how special and influential it is whilst you’re there and has definitely led to number 8.
8. My Trust in God
I would love to formulate my thoughts and write a whole blog post on my stance on religion because I truly have witnessed some miracles in my life, and seen God’s greater long term plan for me work out perfectly, despite my lack of trust and patience. “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
9. Supporting Arsenal!
Potentially harder than having faith in God, is faith in football! All jokes aside, I adore football, the community, the connection with my family through it and friends too! Also overcoming Cesc Fabrégas, the LOML, leave arsenal to go to our rivals, whilst marrying someone my mum’s age, took a lot of strength.
10. Choosing my University
At my sixth form, 75% of 300 went to three universities, and then there was me, going to one that no one had heard of. And it was the best decision of my life. I think this was the start of my independence and choosing what was right for me, regardless of the opinions of those around me, and truly influenced every bullet point following.
11. Starting my Blog
My goal of this blog has always been to be brutally honest, and unglamorised, but not in a pessimistic way, because my life is truly thriving, but in a ‘I’m so blessed but still confused, broke and stressed’ way. Tattoo that onto me. But seriously, being able to write what I want, regardless of who is reading is extremely valuable and refreshing.
12. Starting my Buisiness
This is a BIG one. After finishing my A Levels, I decided to start experimenting on Adobe Illustrator, After Effects and Photoshop, and two weeks later, commissioned my first design. I grew my Instagram as my portfolio and have been working for global businesses ever since! Not only has it given me a necessary creative outlet, an income at uni, and led to many jobs but it also has opened a potential door into graphic design and the creative side of advertising, something I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find my creative medium for it.
13. Going to University
The start of my first year was tough, but because it was so good! I was the ‘be it all girl’ making friends with flatmates, course mates and dogs in the park! Going to the gym, running my business, getting First marks, socialising ect. yet barely had the energy to boil pasta! Getting the balance has been hard and I’ve learned that I needed to give up certain people or work projects in order to focus on my mental and physical health. Uni is such a hard adjustment and I can honestly say that washing, cleaning and cooking is harder than any assignment!
14. Taken Up Fitness
There were many years when fitness took me down! From getting back into it too quick after surgery and getting injuries every time since, it has been a struggle. Last year I couldn’t do 15 minutes on the treadmill without fainting and now I go 5 times a week! My appreciation for my body, despite everything it has been through, to be able to change through fitness and lifestyle blows my tiny little mind! Saying that, I promise I’ll never post fitness videos or drink skinny teas or diet but a little Zumba always brightens me up!
15. Staying at Uni!
As I’ve said, I have had a great uni experience but I’ve still doubted my course choice, my living situation, my friendship circles versus home life and comforts a lot. It hasn’t been easy and is still a struggle to be away from home every so often, but the highs are so high and the life lessons learnt here are unforgettable. Despite my complaints, I am so lucky and privileged to be able to study my degree and live away from home, with friends I know will become bridesmaids one day, and at my 50th birthday party!
16. Boy Drama
Without going into detail, there’s been some ‘eventful’ boy dramas. Sometimes people let you down, sometimes its timing and sometimes yourself! I believe that we should have regrets, but its how we learn and apply them to a new situation, or to a preexisting past relationship that make them a one off mistake, and not a personality trait.
16. My Mum Being Sick
My mum was first diagnosed with breast cancer when I was two and she was 36. The cancer returned when I was 12, 14, 15, 16 (twice), 17, 18 (twice) and 19. Summer 2018 my mum had a major back operation, removing the spread cancer on her spinal cord. After many complications, from being partially paralysed, to spending a month in hospital, having to walk with a frame, going through more treatment and also breaking her foot(!). I gave up a three month summer to care for my mum full time, spending every night in her bed to help her, shower her, cook, clean, back rubs ect. and would do it over and over again. I am forever in awe every single time my mum gives me a hug or text as I know how lucky I am. I hope that in the next 20 years, I continue to strive to have 1% of the strength and resilience that she has and I hope I take every challenge and opportunity available to make her proud.
In terms of personal success, getting an internship at L’Oréal tops the chart. From someone who’s battled dyslexia, OCD and anxiety around exams, missing a year of school for surgery, working my arse off in every single exam and not doing as well as I hoped, going to a uni that none of my friends or teachers supported, running an international business, doing every single external extra curricular thing I could find and going through multiple rounds of applications, to present the best version of my self, using every single battled faced in the process, and getting my dream job at 19 years old, feels pretty bloody good! *and breathe*
I am so fortunate to have travelled all over, from America, Toronto, Spain, Italy, Israel ect. in Bedouin tents, mud huts, 5 star hotels and sharing a single bed in a travel lodge! The experiences and memories from holidays and travelling have been so refreshing and eye-opening and I cannot wait for more adventures in the future!
We’ve all had to overcome our Grandma’s calling us fat, right? But my family are something special and I could not have overcome anything without their support through every decision I’ve made. There’s nothing in the world that would ever top my family, not even a JLS reunion!
I’m looking forward to fighting more battles and overcoming more obstacles to be able to have the view and reflection I have now on everything I’ve overcome. I know I sound like I need a pin prick to deflate my ego right now but why not be proud of your accomplishments!
Always got your back,