The 28th July will mark the end of my first year as a full-blown adult, it’s been an insightful year on the whole. There’s been plenty to learn from, a few things to leave behind but ultimately it has felt like this year was the first year that I made a conscious to decision to just live and feel the emotional highs and intense lows that come with life. It was a year of honesty and accepting all of the sensitivities that will bed into your life as you change from one day to the next, it’s been a gradual process but I can say that this past year hasn’t gone to waste. So here are my reflections on my first year as an adult.
No one has it together
I’ve always heard people say this but didn’t fully appreciate it until this past year, when I was in school it never really dawned on me that as we got older people would scramble to put together a pristine image to reaffirm that they knew exactly what they were doing in life. A younger me had settled into a routine that allowed me to be comfortable where I was, I didn’t push any further than I needed to and I was content. It’s only once I stepped into the real world and saw the heights that people were reaching I naturally began to compare where I was to what I was seeing. As many people say, comparison is the thief of joy and it was only this year that I realised how much constant comparisons can set you back, it will needlessly use up your time whilst you fixate on irrelevant details and it can pressure you into a restless mindset that can see you waste your efforts chasing after something that you don’t want all for the sake of feeling as though you’re not falling behind in life. This feeling of comparison is a difficult one to contend with because it’s so easy to get swept up in the lives of others, whether that’s through social media or your own dissatisfaction with where you are in life, but the most important lesson I’ve learned from this is that everyone is experiencing their own journey. We all live our life according to our own timescale, your career goals or personal goals may not align with those of your friends, but they will happen when you’re ready. It may feel as though you are drowning whilst everyone around you sails out of sight, but you will get back in the race and join them when the time’s right. Sometimes you need a break to figure out what you want and take a moment to breathe, that’s not a setback it’s an essential reset.
Be patient with yourself
I’m not one who usually takes part in New Year’s resolutions and this year was no different, the half empty promises of self-improvement never really done much for me but I did accept that my patience was something I wanted to work on continuously. This wasn’t a declaration or an obligation but simply and acknowledgement of something that I want to get better at. Being impatient is a bad habit that I’ve had for as long as I can remember and I quickly came to learn that lifelong habits are not something that will disappear overnight. It can feel frustrating when you don’t see the progress that you want straight away, small comments that you make to yourself out of annoyance can seem meaningless at first but over time this constant repetition of putting yourself down can begin to impact you negatively without you even realising. In these moments it’s important to remember that you have to be patient with yourself the same way you would with someone else. Taking time to pause and practice patience is a great grounding technique and it allows you to realise that sometimes you may have to take a few steps back before you can move forward.
You should feel uncomfortable
Settling into a regular rhythm has been one of the best and worst things that’s happened over the past year and the delineation between the two comes down to balance. Moving from school to a 9-5 has granted me a level of comfortability that can feel peaceful in moments of stress and anxiety but if staying in my comfort zone for too long left me feeling as though my life was stagnating. Having a predictable routine day in and day out almost becomes and inescapable cycle, it can make life feel dull as it becomes more and more difficult to find purpose. Trying something new is always an off putting feeling, I have moments of high energy where trying something new seems like a good idea, but that feeling can quickly dissipate along with any ambition that I have for stepping out of my comfort zone. At the tail end of last year I finally decided to force myself to go on a solo trip, at first it just made me emotional, I can’t exactly pinpoint why, I didn’t miss anyone and I wasn’t gone for long, in fact I was still in the airport, but it felt overwhelming. Looking back on it I’m so glad that I took that step, it was a reassurance that you have your own freedom and you should exercise that regularly. Don’t get stuck in your ways as you won’t know how much you’re missing out on, I’m not saying that you need to do something crazy everyday, but taking a trip into the unknown every once in a while can’t hurt. You might love or you might hate it, but at the very least you’ll grow from it and develop a stronger understanding of what you’re capable of.
This is what 21 taught me, we’ll see what 22 brings.