Hello friends! In honour of my 19th birthday, I’d like to share 19 things I’ve learned over the years.
- Don’t leave it last minute.
The whole concept underlying all my academic actions in the past has been the fact that I will eventually get the work done and as such, there is no real reason to worry about the fact that I still haven’t done it yet. I have learned that that is not the most effective way of thinking. Despite being an expert procrastinator, the satisfaction of completing something to a high standard a healthy amount of time before the deadline rejuvenates me on a different level.
- Hand sanitiser is like washing your hands but they’re not left wet afterwards and they’re still clean?! What’s that all about?!
I love hand sanitiser for all those icky situations I often find myself in. My current favourite (and to be quite frank, the only one I’ve ever used) is the mango one from The Body Shop.
- Relying on people isn’t necessarily bad. Humans are social creatures after all.
This is a bit soppy but it’s true and it’s nice for me to remind myself regularly. I know that a lot of the typical narrative is all about how you can’t always trust people but the people that you can and do trust are worthy of being relied upon. I think it’s essential to have a support system that you can depend on to an extent and there is no shame in relying on someone.
- Sometimes you do reach the destination you always had in mind but that doesn’t mean that it’s game over.
The second ever anatomy session I had when I started med school, I had this sudden moment of clarity where I realised that I’m exactly where I wanted to be so long ago. That feeling of working so hard to reach a certain goal and not having planned anything beyond that is a little disconcerting but it hit me so hard in that instant that I was floored to finally be here. I think the lessons I took away from that split second included the fact that time goes by so fast and you absolutely have to savour everything while you live through it, both the good things and the bad things.
- Never ever put famous figures on a pedestal because that’s a recipe for disappointment.
You never really know anyone, certainly not someone you observe from so far away but equally, you can’t always hate on someone for the bad decisions they make. My strongest recommendation will always be to admire but never idolise anyone, regardless of how someone seems.
- Don’t listen to music on headphones excessively loud because trust me, you will mess up your hearing.
I’m convinced I’m slightly deaf and I could only really attribute it to my headphone-wearing qualities because I can’t think of any other reasons my hearing would betray me like this.
- Most things in life are easier said than done.
Almost everything is easier said than done but you honestly have to just push through it and do it anyways. Nothing is easy when you start. This is something I wish someone had told me for the past few years when I was all talk and no action, but I’ve learned it with a vengeance this time and this is always the advice I give to others who ask me for help. We are all so fearful of looking stupid trying new things but there is nothing you can do to overcome that. Taking action is the first step to achieving anything at all.
- Own your mistakes with your chest. This is a big one. Admitting your mistakes makes everything so transparent and honest and I would go to extreme lengths to be transparent with everyone around me.
- You can have a killer skincare routine and your skin could still be atrocious, be patient.
I have spent the past 7 years being patient with my skin but the reality is that I’m not going to wake up one day to perfectly clear skin. It’s a process of caring and treating and that’s okay. Even if it motivates me to make slightly healthier decisions in my life, that’s enough for me. Just the fact that I consider my skin to be such a defining factor in my acceptance of my own body would have bothered me some years ago but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting superficial-seeming things like clear skin. Don’t shame yourself for liking the things you like.
- Sometimes you just need to chill a bit.
The most common piece of advice I’ve ever been given is often from teachers, professors and even friends telling me to let go a bit. It’s true, unfortunately. I do feel a little bit uptight about things, but I am working on not being like this. In my defence though, it’s often only a matter of time before I can be more open around new people and in new situations.
- Personal projects and hobbies are just as important, if not more, than academics.
With academics, again, I feel like I’ll get everything done. Even if I have to stay up all night to finish something before a deadline, I’ll do it. (Perhaps a benefit of being uptight?) However, when it comes to other personal hobbies, I have a habit of putting things off, in part due to procrastination but mostly due to being such a perfectionist about things. As such, I think making a safe environment in which I can make mistakes is helpful in making progress with things besides academics.
- After spending so long trying to find the perfect hairstyle to sleep in, I think I’ve finally found the winner: a single french braid. Pros include pretty waves in the morning, no uncomfortable feeling when your head is at any angle and I think this is nonsense but hair is supposed to grow more healthily when braided (?? Might be cultural folklore!) I did a bit of research into this after I wrote this statement too and apparently sleeping in braids increases breakage but I think that’s only when hair is wet. I don’t sleep with wet hair so I think we’re good for now.
- If you want something then ask but don’t be surprised if you don’t ask and you don’t get.
Again with the whole “if it’s meant to be then it’ll come for me”. I think you should chase after what you want and don’t make yourself the victim if it doesn’t come to you itself. Opportunities are rare and should be seized.
- Maintaining good relations with the people closest to you is often the easiest way to go about life but if you have objections about anything then you should object without hesitation.
Personally, I’m the most stubborn with people I truly love (big apologies to my parents!) If someone close to me wants to make what seems like a bad decision to me, I will fight tooth and nail to persuade them otherwise. This has, however, gotten me stuck sometimes with big, bad arguments so I don’t really know if this is the best idea. I guess you just have to pick your battles wisely.
- I don’t condone retail therapy but sometimes a nice, new outfit really does heal wounds.
Okay, I’m the worst for shopping when I feel sad, but it does seem to make me happier. Now whether that’s long-term happiness or short-term satisfaction is up for debate. Although, I think this is a slightly dangerous thing to include because excessive buying is really not a good idea, not only in terms of psychological causes leading to this behaviour, but it’s also unethical. I think when I have some more time, I really want to do a bit more research into ethical fashion and invest in habits that aren’t destructive in many ways, as I really do enjoy fashion and clothing.
- Sometimes you add things you already did to your to-do list because you want to feel a bit more accomplished and there’s nothing wrong with that.
This is one of those habits that isn’t destructive at all but makes me laugh at myself. There is no shame in wanting to feel more accomplished! This is, of course, depending on how many of the things on the original list that I’ve completed.
- Sleep it off.
This sounds like a joke but many times, I’ve felt significantly better after having a good solid night’s sleep. I always feel like I can think more logically after I’ve had time to reflect on things and let my emotions simmer down.
- Don’t doubt yourself, regardless of how many advanced corrections Grammarly picks up.
I’m at 38 advanced corrections currently and I haven’t bought the premium version so I can’t see exactly what’s wrong with my writing but I guess it’s pretty funny that I have so many. I have never been good at being concise or specific and I love to beat around the bush with my writing! Oh well!
- Suck it up, move on.
I’ve probably encompassed this in many of these points above, but I think this sums it up nicely. Things go wrong and people turn out to be worse than you thought but you just have to get over it and trust that there will be better in the future for you. I know it sounds quite pessimistic but I think there’s nothing more indicative of resilience than eventually moving past something negative with the hope and optimism that the future will be better.
Thank you so much for reading, here’s to hoping being 19 is successful and productive for me!