20 before 20

Nothing actually changes overnight when you turn 20. You don’t wake up with grey hair or wrinkles and you certainly don’t wake up knowing wtf you’re doing with your life. But I can vividly remember how excited I was to turn 10 years old and how at that age I naively thought that by 20 I’d not only know everything, but I’d be old!

Rather than writing a list of things you should do before you turn 20, here’s a list of things that I happened to do in my 20thyear of life. These events were all significant in one way or another and they’re all things I recommend trying if you haven’t already.

1. Became more body confident

I spent a lot of my late adolescence feeling really uncomfortable with my body shape and appearance but I believe in whole ‘fake it til you make it’ thing. And while some days I still have to fake confidence and actively self-love, those days are fewer and far between and compared to even just a year ago, I feel like a lot has changed.

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2. Discovered Gin

A truly defining moment in my drinking history, I think I started drinking gin earlier this year when one of my best friends recommended it to me. I haven’t looked back since and have made it my mission to try as many types as possible.

3. Went to my first festival

Something most teenagers do when they’re 16; I actually went to my first festival this summer in Belgium. It was honestly the best weekend of my life so far, camping in 27-degree heat and seeing so many of my favourite artists with people who, by the end of the trip, were some of my best friends.

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4. Went out for a three course meal alone

While on a surf trip in Spain I was looking for somewhere to get lunch and due to my poor Spanish skills, I accidentally ended up agreeing to a three course meal. At first I felt a bit uncomfortable sat by myself in an empty restaurant but it was actually a really nice experience to eat slowly, enjoy my food and have some me-time.

5. Hitchhiked to Amsterdam

I’d always wanted to try hitchhiking so I was very excited when the opportunity arose to do it for charity. It was a tough experience and a great test of patience and resilience but it was also exhilarating to travel without a plan and meet so many kind people- I’ll probably do it again at some point (sorry dad).

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6. Learnt to play the guitar

During my first year of uni I had a housemate who let me borrow his guitar whenever I wanted to and a friend who offered to teach me. I’d never played before and I’m not that great now, but it was one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, so at least I’ve made a start. Maybe one day I’ll be able to play a whole song?

7. Cut my own hair

I find cutting hair to be a really liberating experience (hence why I struggle to grow mine further than my shoulders). Having now cut my own hair, I’ve realised that it’s actually really easy. Doing it well though? Not so easy… and sometimes it does pay to get someone else to do it. That being said, I would definitely cut my own hair again and if anyone is looking for a free haircut, I’m sure I’ve got some scissors somewhere…

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Thanks Milan for helping me cut two inches off my hair at 1am

8. Learnt to cook for myself properly

Although I’ve always been a decent baker and pancake maker, I never thought much about cooking more than pasta and beans on toast until uni. Thanks to a few friends I made in first year, my skills have now been extended to risottos, curries and more! That being said, I am currently living on frozen chips and burger.

9. Started writing more

I was worried I’d become too busy with uni to keep this blog up. Although I still don’t put in the time I wish I could, I am writing more now than I was a year ago and hopefully I’ll write even more this year

10. Lived away from home

Something which now feels more normal than living with my parents, it’s strange to think I only started living away from home last year. Next step: living abroad!

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My housemates (minus Siqi)

11. Changed my taste buds

As a child I was a somewhat picky eater so as I’ve grown older I’ve made it a goal to like all foods- a slightly ambitious aim, but in just the last year I’ve started to enjoy eating mushrooms, olives, strawberries, tomatoes and mint chocolate. Bananas are next on the list!

12. Got better at surfing

I first tried surfing a couple of summers ago and loved it so much that I’ve been on several trips in the last year. Learning to surf had always been one of my life goals and the fact that I’ve gone on multiple trips in just the last 12 months is so exciting!

 

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13. Became a plant mum

For my 19thbirthday I asked for a plant. Previously I had a bad track record of killing them, so I had this idea in my head that if I could go to uni with a plant and keep it alive, everything else would be fine. Fast forward a year and I am now the mother to 12 houseplants including two baby spider plants and a small tree, although I can’t say my being able to keep plants alive has had much of an effect on the rest of my life, except maybe improving the air quality in my room.

14. Got more piercings

Getting my seconds and my cartilage pierced were not necessarily thought through plans but I got both done with my best friend and I love the results.

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One very red (and slightly infected)  ear

15. Worked for a fast food chain

This job was tiring- I was either starting very early or ending very late. Smiling and talking to customers at 5am put my ‘people skills’ to the test and motivated me to finish my degree so I can one day have a job in a sunny country that starts at least after 8am.

16. Quit a job

Never a life goal but a very liberating experience. As a rule, I’d say if your job is making you cry on a daily basis, it’s probably not the one for you…

17. Took more photos

I started filming a second a day of my life from the beginning of December til the last day of my first year at uni (although I might add my summer footage to it now) and last year I began printing photos to put in physical albums and to decorate my room. I’ve enjoyed documenting my life more- I like that in decade’s time I’ll have lots of reminders of all the best bits of my 20s.

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18. Phonetic alphabet

Learnt accidentally when I should’ve been revising, this turned out to be a useful skill when spelling my surnames to people on the phone.

19. Tried a lot of new sports/societies

This year was one full of firsts and beginnings. I started cheerleading, I began playing squash (my first racket sport), I landed my first back handspring, I tried Latin and ballroom dancing, and more recently I joined Salsa dancing society and gymnastics.

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20. Stuck to my new years resolution

This one was true when I first wrote this list a few months ago. My resolution was to not put up with other people’s shit (especially when it comes to friendships and romance) but as someone once said ‘Forgive yourself for accepting less than you deserve- but don’t do it again’.

Earlier this year, on the train home from a concert, hungover, I became hyper aware that in a year’s time I would no longer be a teenager. This huge period in my life was coming to an end and I wasn’t sure if I had done everything I wanted to before it were over. Now I know it doesn’t matter; I’ll get it all done eventually.

 

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