At the end of last month, I turned 22. It’s scary to think how fast life is going, as it only feels like yesterday I sat my exams or I turned 16. Twenty two sounds insane, at once I’m still young but I feel like my “young days” are far, far away.
It’s weird really, since I finished uni and I’m having very limited luck job-searching wise I feel like my twenty-first year has been one of little triumph. Yet, when I get myself into that headspace, I tell myself that this year has actually been a year of success, fun and finding out who I am.
Here we go! 21 things I’ve learned being 21:
1. Dating is hard
Last year, and a little bit into this year, I went on a few dates. I bit the bullet, joined Tinder and found out – amongst the fuck boys, weird boys and catfishes – nice boys exist. Gap! Shock! Horror! So, I took the risk and took a few of them out. The first date resulted in me spilling my drink on myself in the first five minutes, my second involved a “short” walk (about 11,000 steps!) around town [then another date later that involved mini-golf and a very awkward bus ride home, when we realised we didn’t click enough to go out again] and my third included me telling him he was very bold to wear white so it shows he’s not an axe murderer (yes, I said that).
Luckily, this particular person saw through my strange date chat and we spent a few months getting to know each other. Honestly, at one point, I thought we’d last (not forever, but for a good amount of time). Of course, I realised dating is hard and part of it is realising people and their intentions change. It didn’t feel that great when he finished it all at first but, when I think about it now, this minor wobble in my love life just means someone who’s more “for me” will come around someday.
2. I actually like exercising
I’m not a complete coach potato but, like a lot of people, there are thousands of other things I could think of doing rather than exercising. In January this year, considering it’s the month of “new year, new me” and trying new things to make you a new and improved person (apparently), I started aqua fit. Essentially, it’s just exercise with weights in water, and every class is filled with old people who are so much fitter than I am.
At first, I didn’t like the premise. I wasn’t all that comfortable with wobbling up and down in a swimsuit. As the weeks have progressed, though, I’m actually glad to get to the class, I feel stronger and healthier and I actually like exercising.
3. It’s not worth looking them up
After the unsuccessful attempts at dating, I went through a phase of looking up these people on social media, seeing how they were and getting myself into a flap over what could’ve been. Honestly though, it’s not worth looking them up. If people want you back in their life, in whatever way, they’ll work hard for you.
4. I love Malteasers
I’m a chocolate lover, no doubt, but give me anything Malteaser related and, well, I’ll love you forever. I love Malteasers. White chocolate, milk chocolate, bar, truffles. Give. Me. Them. All.
5. You don’t actually need to wear heels on a night out
I’m not short (I’m 5″6, though I’m probably a little shorter because I have the worst posture going) but I always wore heeled shoes to ‘fit’ in with my friends. Of course, a pair of sparkly trainers and several nights spent wincing down the cobbles of Concert Square, I discovered a revelation: you don’t actually need to wear heels on a night out. Wearing flats saves your feet and, honestly, is just as stylish (in my opinion) as heels.
6. Friendships are hard
Aside from my twin, who is my best friend because we share genes and common interests, I’ve never had a “best friend” (or at least I’ve never kept one). That being said, as the years have ticked by, I’ve managed to find a group of girls who are funny, kind, caring and the best people I’ve ever met. My twenty-first year has been testing friendship wise as I didn’t manage to make lasting friendships at uni and I realised, in general, friendships are hard. They’re all about working around each other’s schedules, keeping contact whenever you can and – when you do spend time together – you make those times count.
(Some of) the girls I have the honour of calling my friends
7. I love tote bags
I probably knew that already but, honestly, I love tote bags. They’re so handy and there’s so many great designs (one of my faves is my personalised one by WhatLydDid, check out her shop on Etsy to get your own!)
8. First kisses are awkward AF
I’ve been kissed (on the cheek) once before and, considering my friend practically forced the poor guy to kiss me, it was by no means the romantic first kiss all the books and movies had played out…so I pretended it didn’t happen. Fast forward to this year, on the date with the non-axe-murderer, I had my first kiss. Let me tell you, first kisses are awkward AF. He asked if he was ok to kiss me (though he only really got out the “am I okay?”) and, even though I thought he was going in for a hug, he went for it! Safe to say I need to work on knowing the signals!
9. Uni is hard
Loads of teachers at school gave it all that about uni being “significantly easier than school”. For the first few weeks of first year, I believed them. Then, as I got further and further into my degree, I realised uni is hard. Not only do you have to read all your material (and secondary reading), you’ve also got to keep on top of assignments, extra activities, eating healthy and staying active and maintaining a social life. I think I honestly needed a gap year between my second and third year of uni.
10. Shakespeare is actually great
This is an unpopular opinion but, after studying him for a module one semester, I think he’s actually great and I’m very tempted to invest in his complete works and give them a read.
11. A lot of my friendships are “convenience friendships“
I don’t know if this is a term but I’m using it anyway. A lot of my friendships are “convenience friendships” (based on contact as and when the person is needed, rather than a genuine desire to talk or go out).
12. I like hummus
I think I realised this before I was 21 but I’m running low on things. The texture of it used to freak me out but, honestly, it’s actually delicious and perfect for when I want to trick someone (myself) into thinking I eat healthily.
13. I still don’t like coffee
Stick it in cake. Pour it in a fancy mug. I still think it tastes gross. I’m sorry.
14. George Ezra soundtracked my summer
I was a massive fan of his before he released Staying at Tamara’s last year but, even though it’s a year on, I loved listening to this album and – to be fair – I’m not stopping anytime soon.
15. I don’t do stupid things when I’m drunk, I leave it for when I’m sober
Never forget the falling down Revolution’s stairs before the cocktail class. Ouch.
16. It’s ok to do things on your own
I realised I’d become fairly reliant on my twin sister to do things with and for me but, turning twenty-one and going to uni, it’s ok to do things on your own. We have our own lives but we are still in each other’s forever.
17. Disney is one of my favourite places on Earth
I’ll say it hundreds of times over if I have to: Disney is one of my favourite places on Earth. Visiting Disney is always magical. Even when you’re 21 and it rains every day you’re there. I would go back right now….if I had the money.
18. If someone truly cares, they’ll make time for you
As soon as someone stops taking time out of their day to include you in it, they’re not worth it. If someone truly cares, they’ll make time for you.
19. I have so much more to do
Turning 21 (and turning 22 a year later) had me feeling like my life was over before it began but, really, I have so much more to do. I want to travel more, find love (whenever the universe decides, no rush!), do more, finally write that book (or books, if I get the motivation).
20. Graduation was the proudest (and most nerve wracking) day of my life
It was. Graduation was the proudest (and most nerve wracking) day of my life. My nerves of walking on stage for a few seconds outweighed the fact that, against all odds, I got a first class degree and – now that I think about it – I’m so bloody proud of myself!
21. I can do anything
To finish, and follow on nicely from the last thing, I realised I can do anything. I can date, graduate, whatever I want.
That was a crazy, long list I found pretty hard to compile. The post uni blues make me feel like I don’t have a lot to feel good about or feel proud of but, when I think back, I do. Twenty-two and beyond feels so unknown, so scary but, if my twenty-first year on this planet was anything to go by, I can’t wait to see what lessons I learn and (maybe) I’ll share them on this blog with you.