18 Things I've Learnt In 18 Years | Emily Bashforth

18 Things I've Learnt In 18 Years


I'm 18. Oh no. Does this mean I now have to start going out to clubs every night, partying the night away whilst drinking my body weight in alcohol then laying in bed until 3pm the next day, nursing my hangover? Is my life now supposed to become a vicious cycle of partying, sleeping, feeling hungover then going out and doing it all again? Am I supposed to live off kebabs, pot noodles and spend every Summer up to my knees in mud at some British music festival? Because, if so, I'm about to be the worst 18 year old to have ever graced the Earth.
I'm joking, of course. Whilst the Paris Hilton lifestyle may suit some 18 year olds just fine, it isn't for everyone, me included. I think I'm more likely to be in the "Oops I woke up at lunch time so now I'm going to spend all day in my pyjamas, watching re-runs of Jeremy Kyle whilst scrolling my life away on Twitter" gang and I'm more excited about being able to vote than being able to legally drink.
In the grand scheme of things, 18 isn't that old, even if I do feel as though I've been 75 since birth. However, in my short life time thus far, I've learnt a lot, I've grown a lot and I've experienced a lot. I've lived through one of the most crucial stages of life: my teens, in which I had to make many life changing decisions. Your teens are the years you're most susceptible to self growth and development. They're the years in which you find your friends, put yourself on a career path, discover key parts of your identity and, towards the end of them, should you make it out in one piece, you're ready (almost) for the big bad adult world. Thanks to the many ups and downs of the past nearly two decades of my existence, I've learnt a great deal. The list of things I've learnt far exceeds 18, so much so that even I properly don't know all of the things I've learnt, however, I wanted to share 18 key life lessons I've picked up. Due to my interactions with other people and my surroundings, I've learnt things which should help to carry me through my adult years as they are slowly shaping me into the best possible version of myself.

1) Every day is a school day
Whilst we're on the subject of learning, it never stops. GCSEs, A Levels and degrees don't last forever but our ability to absorb information and use it to better ourselves does. We pick up new things every day, most of the time, subconsciously. It doesn't have to be on the school curriculum for it to be classed as learning, it can be something as minuscule as what the weather is going to be like, how many sugars your friend has in their cup of tea, it can be a quirky fact like the fact that humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas, a new word, it may be that you educate yourself on current affairs...the cliche "you learn something new every day" doesn't lie because the world is our classroom and life is our teacher.

2) No one is ugly
The whole idea of "ugly" is a self-constructed concept which we each manifest inside our brains in order to destroy our well being and chances of living life to the full. Ugliness does not exist, no one can be physically ugly. Whilst some may have ugly personality traits and ugly hearts, ugly appearances are impossible to obtain. Whenever I am in public, I look around me and I bask in the beauty that radiates from each person within the vicinity. I appreciate their beauty, I admire it and I only hope that they recognise their own beauty as much as I recognise it. The girl who stands next to me at the train station, the boy who sits behind me on the bus...they may tell themselves that they are ugly, but they are not. Human beings come in all different shapes, sizes, colours...and that is what makes each of us so wonderfully attractive. Just because society attempts to perpetuate one idealistic view of beauty, that doesn't mean that is the only way in which one can be beautiful. However we look, we are all beautiful.

3) Pizza makes the world go round
There is no such thing as "too much pizza" and anybody who tells you otherwise is lying. Do not surround yourself with people who give off this kind of negative energy but also try to educate them on the sheer beauty of pizza. Open their eyes to the many toppings, bases, crusts and brands, allow them into your pizza loving world with open arms and show them what they are missing out on, for pizza is one of the many things which makes the world go round. Likewise, being able to eat a whole pizza by oneself is a skill, not something which you ought to feel guilty of. Anyone who judges you for finishing a whole pizza alone is just jealous of your talents.

4) People are horrible
Whilst people are beautiful and people can be kind, people can also be horrible...people are horrible. Every day, acts of cruelty and callousness are carried out and they prove that human beings don't always consider others before they act. People say horrible things, people do horrible things, people think horrible thoughts and have horrible ideas, some people can just be horrible. World leaders, students, office workers, retail workers, children, parents, they all can commit both large and small acts of hatred. You are allowed to remove anyone who tries to inject negativity into your life, you are allowed to walk away from situations which make you feel uneasy, it is no crime to want to surround yourself with love and positivity only. That being said, it is vital that we educate the horrible people in society and attempt to make them see the error of their ways. I pity the horrible people of the world for it must be incredibly exhausting to harbour so much hatred in one's heart.

5) The power of the human voice
One of the most powerful weapons in the world is the human voice and it does beautiful damage when used often and wisely. Every day I learn of new world tragedies and I am reminded of the unbearable inequalities around me so I do my bit to voice my outrage about them. I'm not a celebrity or a world leader, I don't have an army of followers who take my every word as gospel and I can't change the world with a single Tweet but I do what I can. I'm a tiny fish in a huge ocean and I can't have the impact which I so desperately hope to have, however, I use my voice and, even if hashtagging something is the only thing I can do, I will do it. Sadly, not all people use their voices. The celebrities with the most followers and most money don't utilise their platforms often enough but I feel glad to live in a world where normal, everyday people don't just sit back and let people walk all over them. I feel lucky to be surrounded by such passionate, tenacious individuals who speak out, stand up and act up when it is required of  them. Giving a voice to the voiceless and standing together with the oppressed is vital and, despite what anyone may tell me, I know that it makes a difference. Swarms of people protesting with banners in the street, hundreds of thousands of people signing petitions onlinne...it works, the powers that be do listen and it is always worth going out of your way to say something. Being silent isn't cute or trendy. A small amount of activism is better than none at all.

6) The planet belongs to all of us
Wherever we come from, whoever our ancestors are, whatever career we choose, whatever hobbies we have, however we act, whatever we say, whatever our religion, gender, shape, size, skin colour, planet Earth is the home of us all and we all have a right to be here. No one is more deserving of a privileged lifestyle than anyone else, no one deserves more respect or more rights, we are all human beings sharing the same lifetime we should all have equal opportunities. Regardless of our history or our circumstances, we should all have a safe space and those in power should do all they can to ensure the most vulnerable people in society are protected. Never allow anyone to make you believe that you are subservient. Those seeking asylum should get it and those in danger should be taken away from it. And whilst planet Earth is everyone's home, everyone should look after it. Mother Nature spoils us each day and provides us with the most exquisite surroundings which we should wish to preserve, not damage. We should pick up our litter and encourage others to pick up theirs, recycle and encourage others to recycle, educate ourselves about global warming and educate others too. There is no planet B.

7) Question everything
We were born with the ability to think and so we should make the most of it. We shouldn't be passive and just let everything wash over us, we don't have to just accept things as they are, we can question and we should question. If something doesn't sit right with you, question it. If someone doesn't sit right with you, question them. Use your brain and think for yourself. Don't follow the crowd and allow yourself to be brainwashed by society's ideals. Ponder things, make up your own mind, draw your own conclusions, for nothing is ever really as it seems on the exterior. Dig deep, explore the never ending possibilities and trust your gut. Remember that, if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

8) Spend time with those who mean the most to you
It's a cliche to say that you never know when you may be saying your last goodbye to someone or that the next day may be your last but all of life's little cheesy sayings are true and we should listen to them. It's easy to say that you'll call someone "tomorrow" or you'll see them "tomorrow" but, the truth is, that "tomorrow" may never come and you shall spend the rest of your life wishing you had done it "today." People are temporary which is why we should spend as much time as humanly possible with the ones who occupy special places in our hearts. We should talk to them, listen to them, laugh with them, cry with them, make memories with them to look back on when they themselves are no longer with us. Life is precious, people are precious, time is precious so don't waste it putting off the people who you care for. You don't have to spend every waking moment with someone but the little moments can sometimes mean more. Just do what you can to show them that you care but do it for the right reasons. Spend time with people because you want to and for their benefit, not just your own.

9) Technology is incredible
Older generations may wish to make you feel guilty for being part of a generation which is so in love with technology. Technophobes are everywhere and they will not stop until you put down your iPhone, pick up a book and admit that the "good old days" were better. But don't let them ruin your fun. Take selfies with as many Snapchat filters as you like, hashtag things all day every day, overuse Emojis, Facetime your friends, Tweet until your heart is content, relish the wonder that is technology and appreciate the impact it has had on the world. I feel proud to live at such a technologically advanced time and I'm excited to see where it shall go from here. Will we be able to purchase robots to act as our own personal butlers by 2050? Who knows! But I can't wait to find out. Technology is a marvellous, fascinating thing and we should bask in all it's glory and admire the work that people, who have dedicated their lives to tech, put in to make the impossible sometimes seem possible, not shame people for enjoying it.

10) Maturity is a choice - you don't need to grow up
Some people are 70 at 7 and some people are 7 at 70. Ageing is inevitable but maturing isn't. We get to decide how old we are inside and, despite what society tells you, there isn't any pressure for you to grow up. Remain a child forever if that is what your heart desires, skateboard and bungee jump at 80 or spend your 40s partying in Ibiza or spend your teenage years knitting and doing crosswords if that's more your cup of tea, for we are all as old as we feel. Life is too short to get bogged down with "acting your age." You can act however old you wish to, your age is merely a number and determines nothing.

11) Spending time with yourself is just as important as spending time with other people
Spending time with loved ones fills my heart with such joy but I've learnt that I can't be around people all the time. I need to take time out, quite a lot of it, actually, to be alone and spend time with me. Some people are people people, social butterflies, and whilst being around others is great, it's necessary to be on your own sometimes. We need to take time to reconnect with ourselves and take care of number one. You are the only person who is going to be in your life forever, therefore, it's just as important to have a strong, healthy relationship with your own heart and mind as it is with other people's. In times of hardship, worry or confusion, I've learnt that removing myself from the company of others is sometimes best and, when having issues in figuring out my own identity, I need to be alone to consider who I want to be and what I want. Self care is of utmost importance.

12) I am so insignificant
In a world of 7 billion+, I am tiny dot on the map and my existence will probably never even scratch the surface of humanity. My problems are so insignificant compared to those of others, people who I will never meet but wish I could help. The annoyance I feel after sleeping through my alarm is nothing compared to the pain children in third world countries feel after not eating for three days. The sadness I feel when my favourite TV show ends is nothing compared the heartbreak a wife feels when she learns she will have to tell her four children that their daddy was killed whilst defending his country. Of course, just because someone else has it worse, that doesn't mean I can't feel down in the dumps, but, in the grand scheme of things, the problems that sometimes make it feel as though the world is ending don't really matter. At the end of the day, my pain will ease and I will carry on, whereas others many not be so lucky.

13) Sometimes, silence is violent
I feel as though people talk a lot for the sake of talking and don't always recognise the power of a good silence. Often, the things people don't say are far more powerful than the things they do say, just like when you read a book, the author usually wants you to read between the lines and pay more attention to what isn't written than to what is written. Conversations connect us but silences are golden too. Take time to listen to what people aren't choosing to say and to also be silent yourself for it may make you spot things that you didn't before and it gives you chance to appreciate the beauty you are surrounded by, which you aren't always able to do when you're busy trying to conjure up a new conversation starter.

14) Love is everything
Love is the fundamental thing which threads a needle through the fabric of society to unite us. It is the cement, the glue, the nails, the one thing which, in spite of every atrocity occurring around us, keeps us moving forwards. We live for love, we love to live, love is the common denominator and, at the end of the day, is the thing we all seek and long for. A life without love is no life, not really. I have witnessed so many people turn their backs on love, shut it out, ignore it and refuse to accept it, for example, in the form of homophobia. But I feel sad for these people who are so determined to lock such beautiful expressions of love away in a box and to throw away the key. Love comes in many forms and each one adds value to the world. We should be absorbing every ounce of love that we can get our hands on for if we do not love, if we do not love love, what purpose do we have? When times are hard, we have our love for ourselves and one another to fall back on and to restore our faith in the goodness of humanity. Love is love.

15) It's all up to ME
People will try to sway you into thinking the same as them, people will try to control you, make your decisions for you and write your story as if it were theirs but, actually, everything is up to you. I've learnt how to take the wisdom of others on board but to not take it too much to heart. I've learnt how to incorporate their advise into my own decisions so that I am still fully in control of everything I do. No matter what anyone says, ultimately, you have the final say and are in the driving seat. You have the power to change things to secure your happiness because it's vital to remember that you are living your life for you, no one else. It is you who has to suffer the consequences and deal with the outcomes. You can choose to do whatever you want in life, if you want to become an astronaut, go for it! If you want to live on a deserted island, that's cool! If you want to spend almost half of your life dedicating every waking moment to One Direction then do it until your heart is fit to burst with happiness. Never allow anyone to make you feel guilty for the choices that you make. There is no shame in wanting to do something different or in liking different things to other people. Anyone who wants to patronise you or shame you for your interests ought to be the ones hanging their heads in embarrassment. Just do you and do it unapologetically.

16) Things take time but things get better
Once again, it's a cliche, but it's true. In times of struggle, it's easy to get caught up in the "woe is me, this is going to be my life forever now" and to believe there is no way out. Actually, there is, in fact, there always is. No matter what or who is hurting you, no matter how low you feel, the storm passes and you will be able to breathe and live freely again. When the sky is clear, we see it as blue. When there are grey clouds in the sky, we say that the sky is "grey" when, actually, the sky is still blue, we just can't see it because the clouds are covering it. Likewise, when we are sad, we allow it to consume us and can't see past our current pain when, in reality, recovery may be just around the corner, so it's important to hold on and keep fighting. Although, sometimes, recover isn't just around the corner. Sometimes, recovery is ten thousand miles away on an isolated island, buried sixty feet down in the sand in a fireproof box with a complex lock to keep it shut...but that doesn't mean it isn't achievable. It may take time, years in fact, but you will get there, you'll get there a little bit more each day without even realising it. Keep pushing forwards and be patient with yourself for you are doing magical things simply by being alive. Take things slowly, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second...THINGS. GET. BETTER.

17) You are not alone
In such an overpopulated, busy world, it's easy to feel lonely. Many of us will feel alone in our struggles at some point in our lives and feel as though we have no one to relate to, but none of us are alone. No matter how weird you think you are or how unique your problems are, there is always somebody somewhere dealing with exactly the same thing and, honestly, they aren't hard to find. Hop onto social media and you'll find hundreds of people sharing your struggles and who have the same interests as you in the click of a button. Everyone is original but, simultaneously, there are always going to be things which link us...music tastes, sexuality, favourite sports, religion, family problems...there is someone out there JUST. LIKE. YOU. and they are feeling your pain and joy and anger and stress and exhaustion and excitement and every other emotion that you are feeling. You will never be the only one. Find people who you connect with. help them, befriend them, create something special together. In a world of billions, it would be physically impossible for you to be alone.

18) There doesn't always need to be a conclusion
So, here we are, number 18. I wish I could leave you with something poignant, something to reflect upon, a nice little conclusion wrapped up with a pretty bow on it, but I'm not going to because there doesn't always need to be one. Sometimes, it's best to leave things open and to just see what happens. There is no point in saying something for the sake of saying it. Life isn't a fairytale so not everything has a satisfying, happy ending, but sometimes, just allowing yourself to be open to life's many possibilities can lead to wonderful things happening. There is a path set for all of us but we can change directions if we wish to. So, let's end this blog post here. That was a mere 18 things I've learnt in 18 years, ended without an ending. Now, go out into the world and live your life as fully and as boldly as possible. Eat pizza, take selfies, learn a lot, love a lot and believe in your ability to change the world.

Love always, Emily :) xx

4 comments:

  1. Loved it a lot and happy birthday xxx 💗

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  2. I just turned 18 myself, so this post was definitely relevant and fun to read! Have a good day & HAPPY EIGHTEENTH BIRTHDAY!! <3 Love you blog!

    <3: Fan from Finland!

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    1. Hellooo nice person from Finland. :) thank you so much for reading my post - I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for your birthday wish, I hope you had a wonderful birthday yourself. So much love. ♡♡ xx

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