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Happy birthday to me: 23 life lessons I’ve learned in 23 years.

I am now twenty-three years old, and actually, it feels rather good. I’m sorry T-Swift, but I was so over feeling 22. It felt like such a long and seriously stressful year, filled with worry and uncertainty, as I studied and interned. And also loneliness, as my boyfriend ran away to New Zealand for three months andI’ve also spent 12 weeks of it living in a pokey hostel room, travelling an eight-hour round trip home each weekend, as I intern and freelance in a bid to grab hold of my dream career. 

In the words of Kylie Jenner, it has definitely been a year of “realising things”.

Sometimes I feel like I’m still 18, studying for my A Levels, going for drinks with friends at our local rugby club every Saturday night, and working at my local pizza restaurant and The Body Shop in a bid to save money for our first girls holiday. But then I snap out of it and realise I’m a 23-year-old ambitious, self-driven and career-focused young woman (I guess now I’m officially an adult), who’s living in London and hoping to kick ass when it comes to her career choices. 

I also realise how much has changed in just five years and how much I’ve learned, about the world around me and also about myself. In five short years I’ve completed two degrees. I’ve moved and lived in two different cities. I’ve met my boyfriend and made wonderful memories together. I’ve explored and visited new places, had so many amazing experiences and honestly I’ve done things I never even dreamed I’d be able to. 

So here’s 23 things I’ve learned in my 23 years walking this planet; the life lessons that I’ll remember for years and years to come I’m sure. 

1. The little things in life make me happy: I wrote about this in my last post, but I’ve definitely realised as I’ve grown older how much I love the little things. Walks in the countryside, going on a random road trips with Dan, the sun setting over the sea, or simply snuggling in bed to catch up on blogs. These are my favourite things. 

2. I’m seriously ambitious: This past year I’ve actually shocked myself when it comes to how far I’ll go to achieve my dreams. I’ve worked seriously hard, and won’t stop until my time comes. Even if this means trying to get there through following a different route. I just want all of my hard work to be worth it, and to make my family proud. 

3. I love to photograph and write: I’ve loved to write since I was teeny tiny. I used to read and write my own stories, newspaper articles and plays – they always featured a pony or a girl living on a farm – so it’s just natural that I started a blog to pursue this passion. Through blogging though, I’ve discovered how much I love photography. This is something I’d love to pursue in the future, and I’m considering taking a photography course to improve my skills and learn how to properly use my camera!

4. I’ll always be terrified of birds: Yep, absolutely terrified. Whether it’s a pigeon, a chicken, an exotic humming bird, or a duck – I’m terrified. I’ve even tried hypnotherapy to help curb the fear, and you’d think that a pigeon flying into my face a few weeks ago might have made me feel a little less weary. But nope. (And YES, I cried hysterically for about an hour afterwards.)

Jacket – Topshop | Blouse – River Island | Jeans – Topshop | Boots – River Island

5. Always make time for those who make time for you: I’d say this is a newer lesson I’ve learned, particularly in the last year or so, but as you and your friends grow in different directions you realise who you should really make time for. Put it this way, those who only seem to get in touch when they want something aren’t as worthy of your time as those who are always there, no matter how long you’ve known them. I’m very lucky to have a selection of super lovely friends, who are always so supportive and always up for a catch up when needed.

6. Never settle: I’ve always been torn between pursuing my dreams and moving away, or staying home where I’m happiest and settling. But life is too short. Never settle, try everything, and if it doesn’t work out, at least you gave it a go. 

7. I’m a country bumpkin: I love that I grew up in the countryside. The fresh sea air, the beautiful woodland walks, the towering mountains. I really want to live in a cute little house with a garden and a crazy dog when the time comes. 

8. But I do love the city: I thought London would be too crazy for a girl who loves the peace of the countryside so much, but I really do love the buzz of city life. It’s so exciting and so fast-paced, though I’m more than ready to escape every now and again. 

9. You’ve got the best family: I don’t even need to say this, but I just love my family so, so much. We’re all really close and always have the best time when we’re together. Being away from them makes me realise how much they mean to me, and how lucky I’ve been to grow up with such a supportive, close-knit bunch. 

10. You need stability: Yeah, so these last few months have been manic. Living out of a suitcase, working in a new office every month, not having my own space to go home to every evening, spending my life on trains. It’s safe to say I’ve had enough, and am really keen to have a permanent plan come together within the next month or so. I’m moving back home tomorrow to work on job applications and my freelance portfolio. I just need some time to get my shit together after so much business. 

11. You want to see more of the world: I’ll never be a backpacker, or one of those people that leaves everything to find themselves in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest. Needing stability so badly means I’d never cope, but I do want to see more of the world. At just 23, I’ve got plenty of time to explore, and I’m really excited to do it. Next stop, Edinburgh!

12. Dogs are a (wo)man’s best friend: Like seriously, if you’re ever feeling down, just squeezing your dog, whispering “I love you” about one thousand times, and seeing their happy little face as they squirm to escape your grasp is a surefire pick-me-up. 

13. Spa days should be a monthly occurrence: For real. There’s nothing more relaxing, and I definitely want to go on a girly spa trip at some point this year. I’m really trying to take more care of body, and I’m all for the big wellbeing “trend” that’s been featured in every magazine this January. Making your mind and body feel great – what could be better?

14. You’re stronger than you think: Everybody should know this. It’s amazing how strong we can be when we absolutely need to be. I never thought I’d have the strength to leave the securities of my family and my home, but I did it. And you can too. 

15. Nourish yourself with good food: I wish, wish, wish I’d learned this valuable life lesson earlier. Despite my parents feeding my brother and I super healthy meals, I went to uni and lived off micro-chips and pasta. It definitely caught up with me and left me feeling disgustingly sluggish and looking it too, but after doing some research and figuring out what foods work for me I now feel so much better. Your body is a machine and should be fuelled well. 

16. Fitness is your release: Another lesson I wish I’d learned sooner, but whenever I’m feeling stressed, upset or generally uptight, fitness always helps me to see perspective and to look at things from a totally different angle. Plus, it helps me keep in shape too! I’ve realised over the past three years how much I can push my body, and how great it feels afterwards. 

17. Long distance relationships can (and do) work: I’m so lucky to have such a supportive boyfriend by my side, even if half the time he’s actually miles and miles away. After almost five years of living apart as we pursue different career paths, we’re still going strong and have made all of the plans to get a little house and our dog in the next few years. I love Dan so much, and am so glad he’s mine. (Oh my god, how soppy can you get?!)

18. Blonde is not your colour: Looking back at those teenage years and seeing myself dressed in “Gio Goi” hoodies and Primark “uggs” with bright blonde hair just makes me shudder. Boy, am I happy I saw sense and came back to the dark side. 

19. The positives always outweigh the negatives: Dan always says how much I moan, and I definitely am a massive worrier and see the glass “half empty” rather than half full. But slowly I’m coming to see that every cloud has a silver lining, and even knock backs are meant to happen to make you stronger and more determined. 

20. Network, network, network: Sadly, no matter how talented you may be, it’s sometimes more about who you know rather than what you know, and I’ve definitely learned that in my quest to take over the journalism world. I wish I had started networking earlier and hadn’t been so shy about approaching people for advice. Make contacts and put yourself out there. 

21. Dreams don’t work unless you do: Sitting back and waiting for stuff to happen just does not work. If you’ve got big dreams you need to get out and grab them with both hands. All of the hard work is definitely worth it. 

22. You’re only 23, you don’t need to have your life all worked out just yet: I kinda felt like 24 would be the age where I had my life all planned out, so I’ve got a year to go! I’m so guilty of being impatient when it comes to having it all worked out. I feel like I should be a career girl boss, have my own place, and enough money to go on luxurious holidays, when in reality I’ve only just finished university and have been working for free in a bid to find a job. I’m so young and have so much time. 

23. Life is for living: So stop stressing and enjoy it!

Lots of love. xoxo

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34 Comments

  1. Emma Bradford
    January 26, 2017 / 11:38 am

    Number 23 – YES!! Too many people dwell on the bad stuff, enjoy everything! Happy birthday lovely xwww.notyouraverage.co.uk

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 26, 2017 / 2:43 pm

      Thanks so much lovely! xx

  2. Rosy Ferry
    January 26, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    Happy Birthday πŸ™‚ I loved reading your life lessons, your bird fear reminds me of my butterfly fear, I can't handle butterflies!Rosy | Sparkles of Light BlogMy Instagram | Instagram

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 26, 2017 / 2:43 pm

      Thank you so much Rosy! Oh I love butterflies, but my mum is terrified of them! xx

  3. Abi Street
    January 26, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    I hope you have had an amazing birthday lovely!! I love this post so much and these are amazing lessons you've learnt and a lot that i can really relate to! I say this all the time but you're an inspiration! Cannot wait to meet you soon xxAbi | abistreetx

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 26, 2017 / 2:42 pm

      It was so so amazing love, and more celebrations on the weekend soon! πŸ™‚ You're so kind, thank you for your lovely comment and for your tweet! Lush catching up with you on twitter earlier. xx

  4. Jenny
    January 26, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Happy birthday! I've always been a worrier and very negative too, but thank goodness the last couple of years I've been much more positive x

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 26, 2017 / 2:42 pm

      Thanks lovely! It's hard to overcome your worries isn't it? xx

  5. The Makeup Directory
    January 26, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    Happy belated birthday lovely and welcome to the 23 club! I think since 21 I've definitely "found myself" a lot more, no matter how cheesy that sounds!The Makeup Directory

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 26, 2017 / 4:10 pm

      Thank you hun! πŸ™‚ Ahh I totally agree – it's really bizarre how much you change in two years! xx

  6. Hannah Cornish
    January 27, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    Belated happy birthday lovely! You've been smashing it missy – your work placements sound incred! I would absolute love to have a spa day a month – I visited one this month for my birthday and omg, I was chilled out for DAYS. xxHannatalks

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 27, 2017 / 6:07 pm

      Thank you so much πŸ™‚ Your birthday spa day really did look incredible! xx

  7. Maisie Gibbons
    January 27, 2017 / 6:40 pm

    Happy belated birthday lovely! Eeep, 23, I'll be there in April! You ARE kicking arse and I'm sure you'll continue to do so! But hey, does anyone really EVER have it all figured out?! xx

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 27, 2017 / 7:20 pm

      Thank you Maisie! Ahh i know you're so right, just hard to remember that at times haha. xx

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 28, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Thanks girly xx

  8. Leah
    January 28, 2017 / 9:43 am

    "I'm sorry T-Swift, but I was so over feeling 22." Made me giggle! Exactly what I thought when turning 23 a couple of weeks ago. x Leah http://www.sunmoonwars.com

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 28, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Hahaha thank you Leah! xx

  9. Karis Brelsford
    January 28, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    Happy birthday" Love this post, you are so ambitious I love it, so inspiring seeing others working at their goals and succeeding. I'm slightly scared of birds too haha. And yes to dreamsnot working unless you do!!! Xx

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 28, 2017 / 1:31 pm

      Aw thank you lovely lady! πŸ™‚ I love seeing others succeeding too! And glad I'm not the only one scared of birds haha. Horrible creatures xx

  10. Matt Maidment
    January 28, 2017 / 4:14 pm

    Happy Birthday! Number 14 is certainly a lesson to live by for me. Hope you had a great day.Matt / http://www.theguyontrend.co.uk

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 28, 2017 / 8:15 pm

      Thank you Matt! πŸ™‚ Have a lovely day xx

  11. From Aliona With Love
    January 28, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    Love it. Please check out how I balayaged my own hair!Kisses xo | From Aliona With Love Instagram @alionawithlove Twitter @alionawithlove

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 29, 2017 / 9:50 am

      Thanks! xx

  12. Kendel | Little Misadventures
    January 29, 2017 / 3:54 am

    22 is definitely a weird year! I don't know why so many people are excited about it! Happy birthday! I'm three months away from my 23rd birthday, and I am looking forward to it more than I can explain. I am over being 22. For sure. I agree with all 23 of your lessons! Especially #22 in my case. I had a loose 'plan' and it all went tits up when I got pregnant ha. I wouldn't change it for anything, but it definitely changed the way I thought my life would look now…or even five years from now! PS – I live in NZ and if you ever get the chance to visit then you should do it! I'm sure your boyfriend has told you all about it, but it is an amazing place! (And I am completely biased, of course.)

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 29, 2017 / 10:11 am

      It really is! Thank you so much πŸ™‚ So lovely to hear you're having a baby – I'm sure things will change but you'll definitely be able to do all you want to, just with a little one tow. Haha yes, he has told me so much about it! xx

  13. - Karen
    January 29, 2017 / 10:34 am

    This is such an inspirational post and a really lovely read during my Sunday morning coffee :)! Couldn't agree with number 5 more, you really do find who your true friends are when everyone is chasing their dreams and heading along different paths!Style Sunriseβ˜€:)x

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      January 29, 2017 / 12:31 pm

      Aw thanks Karen πŸ™‚ Glad I could be of assistance haha. xx

  14. Lauren
    February 2, 2017 / 9:43 pm

    Happy belated birthday. I love this post, so many valuable life lessons. Lauren x Huggled

    • Jessie-Ann Lewis
      February 3, 2017 / 9:26 am

      Thank you Lauren! xx

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  18. Liam J Havard
    March 25, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    Love this, Jessie! Hope you're good, Pal!Liam xliamjhavard.com

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