23 Things I Learnt at 23: Lesson 10 – I am stronger and more determined than I realised

I am ambitious, driven, and stronger than I ever thought – this has served me well over the last year.

affirm your lifephoto credit to Affirm Your Life

I don’t even know where to start with this one. I have learnt this over and over again throughout the year, consistently seeing more and more what I am capable of dealing with and where I can go. My ambition and drive has been tested professionally through my 23rd year, and I have made myself proud by proving that I can work and work hard despite diminished motivation, I can continue to drive myself forward based on my ambition and I have been relieved in the latter part of my 23rd year to see it pay off and to then see my ambition continue to grow.

My strength has been tested both professionally and personally, I lasted a year with continued fight in a job that made me unhappy, I did not give up until there was no more to do. And I have been strong in the decisions I have made, in not bending when others have told me to, in my conviction, and in my desire to have something that I believe was meant for me, despite the many obstacles along the way. I have proven how far I have come from a year ago when I felt like the smallest thing might break me to now having dealt with one of the hardest years of my life and continuing on regardless.

Catch up with my other lessons under the ‘In My Opinion’ section.

23 Things I Learnt at 23: Lesson Nine – Mistakes are more important to make than successes

Mistakes are more important to make than successes.

phobia wikiphoto credit to Phobia Wiki

We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our success, I truly believe that and while I still struggle with the idea of making a mistake (perfectionism is definitely my downfall) every single big lesson I have learnt, or major realisation made, has been brought about by something that would be considered a mistake.

This makes me wonder, should the word mistake be redefined? It may be an error but is anything truly wrong if positives occur as a result? We all make mistakes, it is human, it’s the reason rubbers exist and the backspace button on a keyboard, it’s the reason lawyers exist, and it’s the reason anyone ever learns a darn thing. Successes are great and I’m not denying we learn from them, but no one ever had a life changing epiphany from doing something perfectly first time.

Maybe 24 will be the year I relish my mistakes now that I have seen their worth.

Catch up with the rest of my lessons in the ‘In My Opinion’ tab

23 Things I Learnt at 23 – Lesson Eight: Eating animal products in great quantity isn’t necessary

Eating animal products in great quantity is unnecessary and unethical, but I will always believe in moderation of all things.

I do not wish to offend vegans or meat-eaters, as contradicting as it may seem, I consider myself to be both. I am what I call a ‘part-time vegan’. Why? Well, force really. I have a kidney condition which means I have to avoid protein and salt, something many animal products are high in, so a few years ago I was advised by health specialists to become vegan as often as possible, whilst maintaining my general health.

the vegan societyphoto credit to The Vegan Society

This has been a huge challenge but one that has made me learn an awful lot about diet and myself. I have coped better than I ever imagined cutting out animal products, which if you knew me as a meat-eater you would be just as surprised by. I used to believe a meal was incomplete or not as tasty without meat, I now think that in a lot of cases the addition of meat is unnecessary and actually, often makes us lazy in our meal choices.

Becoming vegan has opened me up to the joys of products like vegan soft cheese, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, tahini, vegan chocolate, avocado spaghetti (which is not spaghetti made from avocado), tofu curry, and vegan mayo which is fluffy, vinegary goodness that everyone should at least give a go. It has opened me up to new ways of baking, and it has done wonders for my health, and I don’t just mean kidney’s. I get less bloated, I sleep better, my skin is clearer and I’m happier – an unexpected but great consequence.

But more than that, it has made me think about how much damage we do to the environment, to our bodies and to the poor animals sacrificed for food and the resulting waste. It makes me realise that although I began this for health reasons I do believe that ethics now come in for me. However, I would never cut it all out completely because I have also seen, when I have been a bit too ‘good’ the downsides, the tiredness, the low immune system, the sudden weight loss, the frail hair and nails – we need meat but not anywhere near the quantities we have it in. Moderation is key.

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Learning to live with an invisible illness: my battle with MSK
Catch up with the rest of my 23 lessons in ‘In My Opinion’ 

23 Things I Learnt at 23 – Lesson Seven: Standby your decisions

I have learnt to standby my decisions, even if they upset others – my happiness matters more than their idea of how I should be happy.

legal allsorts

photo credit to legal allsorts

Making a difficult decision is hard enough, but learning to stand by it when someone is telling you you’re wrong or making a mistake is one of the hardest things I had to do at 23. But it’s taught me to assess the decisions I make before I make them so I know I am sure, and it has taught me to be strong and confident in the decisions I make, which is useful for many parts of life and something I don’t intend to forget any time soon.

I made a point during Brexit that no matter how anyone voted as long as they remained consistently confident and sure of their decision then it would at least make everything worthwhile. The funny thing is, it wasn’t until months later I found myself taking inspiration from myself – I made a decision that many made clear they did not approve of or agree with but at the end of the day, I have to make decisions that I believe are right and which make me happy, as long as I stand by that and continue to stand by it then nothing I decide can be wrong by my own happiness and success. After all, if I let someone else make a decision for me and it goes wrong then I am the one that has to deal with it, not them.

This lesson also did another thing for me too, it highlighted the people that have my interests at heart and who truly love and trust me. Interestingly as well, those who had originally been skeptical or against my decision have changed their minds now and see that I made the right call. Worth remembering.

Read the rest:
Lesson Six: I would rather have a handful of good friends than lots of bad ones
Lesson Five: Every problem can be resolved by talking about it
Lesson Four: I cannot drink like I used to
Lesson Three: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Lesson Two: Don’t judge the decisions of others
Lesson One: We spend too much time at work to hate it

23 Things I Learnt at 23 – Lesson Six: I would rather have a few good friends than tonnes of bad ones

I would rather have a handful of friends I trust with my life than tonnes that I cannot

I learnt this as I believe everyone does, the hard way. And whilst I can say that 22 was the year I was forced to realise, it has been at 23 that I have begun to come to terms with it. Despite the difficulty of losing friends and those you thought you could count on, I think it made me realise the people who are really important and I think this makes the good friendships even stronger. It also makes a huge difference to confidence and happiness when you surround yourself with people who are determined to lift you up, help you grow and make you happy, than those who care more for their own ends than yours. Although it can be hard saying goodbye to people that you have known for a long time, or who you care about, it is in the end a decision that you will be glad you made.


photo credit to indiacelebrating.com

Catch up with my last five lessons my heading over to My Opinion or, read a related story below:

What do you do when a friendship breaks down

23 Things I Learnt at 23 – Lesson 5: all problems can be solved by talking

I will always believe that every problem can be fixed if calmly and rationally discussed.

I am a talker, in every sense of the word. Something I have yet to learn is in fact when to shut up (perhaps that might come next year). But I will always be the person that thinks a few drinks (whilst remembering lesson four) and an honest conversation based on rationality and empathy can fix most problems if both parties are willing. There is not one mistake I have made or one problem I have had that I do not think could still be solved if talked through.

When I say solved I don’t necessarily mean that things will be ‘happily ever after’, but closure can be achieved in almost any situation if only we could just talk it out. However, this year I am learning that when that isn’t possible I must learn to cope with it and find closure in a different way, because as much as I believe in calm and rational discussion, not everyone would agree and not every situation allows for it.


photo credit to quotesjunk.com

Read lessons 1-4 below:

Lesson Four: I can no longer drink like I used to

Lesson Three: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Lesson Two: Don’t judge the decisions of others

Lesson One: You spend too much time at work to hate it

23 Things I Learnt at 23 – Lesson 4: I can’t drink like I used to

I can no longer drink a bottle of wine and live to tell the tale. But, at least now I know you definitely cannot die from embarrassment – as much as you may want to.

A slightly more light-hearted, but equally important lesson. This lesson came late in my 23rd year, but one I won’t (or, rather, can’t) forget in a hurry. I am, slowly and resentfully, realising that I cannot drink like I used to without massively regretting it. I have still yet to suffer from an actual hangover, but I am starting to think I should quit while I’m ahead. I am not 19 anymore and, like my father’s hair at my age, my drinking tolerance is growing thin. All I can say is that I am sorry I didn’t learn this sooner.

photo credit to LEP Fitness

Read the rest below:

Lesson 3: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Lesson 2: Don’t judge others for their decisions

Lesson 1: You spend too much time at work to hate it