November 30, 2015
At the end of 2014 I wrote an article titled ‘21 things I learned in 2014‘ that I received a lot of positive feedback for. Well, that was that, I felt like the smartest person alive and I kicked off 2015 safe in the knowledge I finally had everything figured out…
…well what the fuck did I know?!
2014, it turns out, was the foundation degree that got me on to the 2015 course – and that’s when the really tough lessons began.
This past year I have learned so much more about life, love and happiness that it has inspired me to write an updated version of the list. Because every day is a school day.
I may not be a butterfly yet, but I’m an effin’ awesome caterpillar. Read these 21 lessons and wriggle through life with ease…
How to be not single
The first and most important lesson I learned in 2014 was how to be single for the first time in my life – truly, Bridget Jones style, everyone making crazy cat lady jokes because I’m closer to 30 than I am 20, single. This was a huge shock to the system because suddenly a part of me was missing. I didn’t have anyone to call and tell all about my good/bad day, I didn’t have anyone to put my cold feet on and there was no one to drag to family parties with me so we could just sit in the corner and drink too much and laugh at all the stupid shit that one friend of the family always comes out with. But rather than embracing ‘forever alone’ I made peace with it, I bought a hot water bottle and I even learned how to endure family parties where the topic of my single status was always a hot one (guess what? it involves lots of alcohol). This year though, I realised that I’m not single. Sure, it’d nice to be committed to one person who is committed to you – someone who thinks you’re the most awesome person to have ever existed and doesn’t want to hang out with anyone else because you are, in the wise words of R Kelly, the world’s greatest – but you’re not forever alone if you don’t have that yet. Maybe you’re always dating someone. Maybe you just have awesome friends. Maybe you’re banging you boss – dude, I don’t care what you’re doing, my point is that very few of us are actually all alone in the world and when you realise that, you no longer care about making it *~FaCeBoOk OfFiCiAl~*.
Dating is hard AF
The majority of all the dating I have ever done in my entire life has happened this year. Wait, come back, and get that chlamydia testing kit swab away from my girl parts, because when I say ‘dating’ I mean the painstakingly awkward act of going to public places to make small talk with men in an attempt to see if there’s anything between you before making your excuses to leave without having sex in the disabled toilets (I’m on my period/I have thrush/I’m a lesbian/I’m a pre-op/etc.). Lucky for my sexual health, getting it on is not something that often goes hand-in-hand with dating for me – my personality is the best contraceptive I know of. But dating is so much more than sex and, do you know what, it’s hard AF! It should be easy: turn up, eat dinner, be awesome, live happily ever after – but that’s not how it goes at all. I’m not saying men are the only ones who do this but women barely even want to be friends with me let alone date me, so I can only go on what I know, but men can be slippery characters. Sure, they want to date you, but you’re one of X birds they’re talking to on Tinder right now, and they don’t wanna waste any time seeing them one at a time. The thing about Tinder is that is makes people greedy. It makes them realise that, holy shit, there are all these people you can have great dates with, so why would you just stick with the first good one that comes along? You wanna shop around, right? I know so many people who are serial Tinder-ers, because they know it’s a quick way to fill a hole – no pun intended, but also pun intended because girls are freaking out over how to not get cast aside for the next ‘match’ and jumping into bed with dudes way too quickly. Girls will withhold text messages from a guy to act like she isn’t keen but then jump into bed with him on the first date to show him just how keen she is – actions speak louder than words so, if you’re gonna withhold anything, withhold sex, not texts.
Don’t waste your precious time with the wrong people
Don’t ever let men lead you to believe there is something wrong with you for wanting to know where you stand with them because you’re not being crazy and any dude who thinks you are is damaged in the head. Well, first of all, don’t actually be crazy – I’m sure this goes without saying but it’s worth a mention. Obviously asking this question while eating your starter on your first date is weird, but if it’s months down the line you’re not out of order to sound him out about his *~FeElInGs~*. Hey men, get over yourselves, women are not asking you this question because they’re obsessed and want to tie this shit down ASAP, they’re asking because they don’t want to think you’re casual and then bang someone else and piss you off. Girls, chances are you’re happy to date just one dude, but if he’s waving his wand around town like he’s the HPV fairy or something, many of us would rather not be just another bird under his sexually-transmitted spell. Most of us don’t wanna just sleep with a bunch of dudes until one sticks around, but at the same time, we don’t wanna waste our time shutting out everyone else for that half-arsed, once-a-week encounter that isn’t going anywhere. Don’t lose the *~MoOn~* while you’re too busy counting the *~StArS~* – or something like that [makes vomiting noises].
The internet is full of fucking idiots with stupid opinions who need to stop RN
You know what they say: Opinions are like arseholes. You know what they should say: People who post their opinions on Facebook are legit arseholes – fuck those guys. Facebook is for the following things: bragging, tagging that friend you don’t really like in an ugly picture of her from your last night out, stalking your ex-boyfriend, researching that guy you’re dating before accidentally ‘liking’ his profile picture from six years ago, and seeing how ugly/bald/old/underwhelming everyone you went for school is now. And that’s it. Not a fucking thing else. No one gives a shit about your insane opinions, pal. In fact, it’s preferable you keep them to yourself, because nothing pisses me off more than losing good friends to them being a fucking idiot. Like, you’re a cool guy, you’re fun to drink with, we both love that same TV show – but now I know you’re a massive racist and I can’t be friends with you any more. Even if you’re not a super-fascist like I’ve found out many of my friends and family are, you still shouldn’t argue with people on the internet because no one wins, except maybe the person who uses the best memes/GIFs.
Female friends are important
I am embarrassed to admit that until this year, my female friend game was pretty weak. I had lots at school but as they seemed to gravitate towards marriage-and-babies, I gravitated towards please-fucking-God-anything-but-marriage-and-babies, and as such, we grew apart. So I wound up with all male mates and I would pride myself on being a guy’s girl. I loved video games and violent movies full of swearing and shagging, I could take that step back from my emotions that many girls struggle to sometimes and I could hang with the dudes, drama free, with no one bursting into tears on nights out and no one expecting me to explain why I did the things I did. But this year, I made some incredible female friends, and now I can’t imagine life without them. Who did I talk to about girls stuff? I mean, even if I’m a bit of a robot with my emotions, I still have girl parts that try to kill me once a month and no one to complain to about it. Who did I go shopping with? Who did I go drinking cocktails and dancing with, without the worry of them thinking it was leading somewhere (like the disabled lav). Do you know why female friends are awesome? Because these girls actually like you and want to spend time with you because you’re a blast, not because they want to have sex with you. I know that they’re not going to yell at me for ‘friendzoning’ them and stop texting me back because I refused to touch their junk. Having female friends is also a bit like having a moral compass. My male friends will encourage me to do stupid shit, my female friends will say things like ‘is that really a good idea?’ and ‘maybe you need to walk away from this one’ and do you know what, their advice is spot on. You are born loving your family, and you fall in and out of love with the opposite sex, but the love you have for your female friends cannot be matched.
Love yourself and I don’t mean literally – no, wait, I do mean literally too, because you are awesome. Do you realise how awesome you are? Do you know how many people care about you? Do you realise what a difference you’re making to the world? You are awesome exactly as you are and you need to appreciate that. Do you wish you were smaller? Taller? Thinner? Had nicer hair? Eyebrows not quite as ‘on fleek’ as you’d like? Gurrl, just own it. None of us are perfect. Just buy some of those weird knickers that hold your stomach in and eat a brownie because brownies are amazing. Buy some high shoes. Wear a wig. Visit a brow bar. Or don’t do any of these things and just embrace who you are, because anyone who cares about that stuff doesn’t care about you, yourself included. Think losing weight is going to make you happy? It won’t, it will just make you smaller. Think it’s going to get you that guy who wasn’t interested before? It might, but it won’t keep him. Even if you never eat another brownie again, doll, you’re gonna get old. Like really effin’ old. You’re gonna go all saggy and wrinkly and grey and you’re gonna go through the menopause and you’re gonna start wearing really big knickers and slippers and watching Loose Women and saying things like ‘it looks like it’s trying to rain’ and ‘Margaret’s prolapsed again’. Old! And no shallow guy is gonna stick around for that, he’s gonna run a mile to the nearest young thing. But a decent man won’t. He’ll still think you’re awesome when you’re 80, literally peeing yourself as you laugh at his jokes. Yes, OK, this is a long way down the line, but it’s important to appreciate that none of us are perfect and even if we’re close, it won’t last.
You don’t have to go out
It’s *~FrIdAy~* *~FrIdAy~* gotta get down on *~FrIdAy~* – except you don’t. We think that because we’re young that we’re supposed to be out with our friends livin’ it large, getting hammered and not at home watching Will Ferrell movies in our PJs whilst trying to free our hand from a tube of Pringles because, are the tubes getting smaller or are our hands getting bigger?
We’re supposed to do prinkies and drinkies and go to clubs and dance and dry-hump and go home with strangers who we have super awkward sex with before doing the walk of shame the next morning. Because we’re young. Because we’re single. Because it’s *~FrIdAy~*. Well, no more. I had a wild week this year where I went out every single night of the week and…I mean, that was it really. I went out every night. Big whoop. No one thought I was cool – and these are the same people who think I’m a dork if I turn down a Saturday night out. You can’t please everyone so just do what you want. Go out if you wanna go out. Stay in if you wanna stay in. DGAF what anyone thinks.
Men can’t treat you how they want
This year I have been fortunate enough to have first hand experience of violent, controlling men. Yes, I did just say fortunate, because now I can spot them a mile away and I’ll avoid them like the plague. Let me make this super clear for you: men should not hit you. Not ever. You’re never asking for it. There’s nothing in the world you can do that deserves it. If he does it once, he’ll do it again – you can’t change him. You don’t need a fucked up pound puppy that’s going to maul your face off when you go to hug it.
A man doesn’t need to hit you to hurt you. Men can’t talk to you like you’re crap. They can’t ignore you for days and then hope to pick up where they left off. They can’t cheat on you. They can’t make plans with you and then bail on you. They can’t make you feel bad about how you look. No man is worth putting up with anything for. As soon as you let people get away with something once, the fact you were free with your forgiveness will be in the back of their mind when they go to do it again. And again. And again.
You can’t care what people think of you
I dated all the men on Tinder and all I got was this lousy complex. People care what you look like or how you dress or what kind of person you are but those people are c*nts. When you play the Tinder game you’re going to go on dates with people and even if you spend weeks chatting to them and get on like a house on fire, sometimes you’ll turn up for your date and he’ll decide something is wrong with you. Maybe you’re too ‘ugly’ for him. Maybe you don’t have a good enough job. Maybe he hates your laugh. Whatever the reason is, there are dudes who will date you and then *~BoOm~* they will stop contacting you. They’ll just stop replying to your messages. Now, girls don’t think bad dates are good dates, but if a guy isn’t for us, the plan isn’t to never speak to him again, it’s just to not date him romantically. It’s sad but true that men will stick around on dates they’re not that into, sleep with you at the end and then never speak to you again. Any right-minded human being would think it safe to assume that if someone sleeps with them, that they like them. Wrong. The important thing is that you don’t take this personally. You won’t be for everyone and not everyone will be cool about this – but not everyone is the same.
Be a dick
It’s important to be nice, but sometimes I am polite to my detriment. I’m the kind of girl who will apologise when people bump into me, even though I was standing still. I’ll endure dates with men who are not treating me right because I don’t want to offend them. Sometimes I won’t argue my case when I know that I’m right. Things came to a head when I went to a men’s gadget shop with a friend who was returning an item – or trying to, the manager was being difficult. I asked the manger a question and he ignored me, so I asked again. The manager pointed at me and said firmly ‘no more questions from you‘. So, what did I do? Did I kick off? Call him a bellend? Burst into tears? No, I went home. I went home and I googled him, and I found an article he was quoted in where he spoke about how much he enjoyed seeing the miserable look on women’s faces in the shop who would rather be shoe shopping. And then I reported him for being rude to me, quoting this, and it’s amazing how quickly all the issues were resolved. It’s OK to be a bit of a dick when someone has wronged you. It’s not petty to stand up for yourself – especially when the men in shops are not being kind.
When you know, you know
Is the guy you’re dating right for you? Do you sit there and weigh up the pros and cons of spending time with him? Can you do better? Should you do better? If you’re asking yourself these questions then he’s not the dude for you, because when you know, you know. You don’t need to question it. Does that dress you’re wearing look nice or are you going to feel self conscious in it? If you’re worried, it’s not right. Nothing is going to suddenly change your mind. When you know, you know. Are you happy doing what you do at work? Everyone has good and bad days, but do you care about what you do? When you know, you know. You’ll never need convincing of anything that you feel sure of. I know who I care about, I know what I’m comfortable with and I know what I love doing. Always go with your gut.
Dappy is smart, man. You should never regret anything. Dated an arsehole? You’ll be able to see ’em coming next time. Looked stupid in that dress you bought for a night out? You’ll never wear it again. Every mistake you make is a chance to learn, preventing you from doing it again. If something burns you, you stop touching it and you know never to touch it again. If someone lets you down, don’t give them the chance to do it again. Take chances, be a risk-taker, do whatever you want. Just be happy and learn from your mistakes.
You don’t owe the people in your past shit
You know what’s interesting about getting older? You have lots of people from your past who can pop back up and because you’re a nice girl, your instinct will be to be well mannered and polite. Eff that. You don’t owe these people shit. Why would you accept a friend request from the girl who used to bully you at school? Oh, she has kids now? Well that must mean she’s cool, I totally forgive those five years where she made me wish I were dead. What about that guy who dumped you when you were 19 who has realised you ‘got hot’ and also he’d like some professional advice because you’re doing well in the field he wants to work in? That guy can fuck off. The dude you were friends with who stopped talking to you when he got a girlfriend but now they’ve split he wants to hang again? He can SMD. Leave the past in the past.
Never ever ever ever give up – ever
When thing get hard it can be tough to keep going and when things seem impossible it’s very easy to give up – don’t. Nothing worth doing is easy. If you wanna feel like you’ve achieved something then work your arse off for it because it will feel worth it and it will feel good. A bit of good luck is nice but a lot of hard work is incredible. When you reach the top of that mountain and look down on the route you took, you’ll realise just how much you went through during your journey and that’s amazing. You did that, dude. Be proud.
Grief is fucking weird
We all know that people die. We see it in movies, we see it on the news, we see it happen to our friends’ families. It’s not until it happens to one of our own people that we truly experience what it’s like to lose someone though. It’s strange to think that one day, someone might not be around anymore. It’s hard to imagine. We think our people are gonna be around us forever, but they’re not. I’ve had to tackle grief head-on this year and all you can do it take it a minute at a time. The key is to be strong for those around you because by pretending to be strong, guess what, you are being strong. Of course it makes you so incredibly sad, but it also gives you a wake-up call: life is short. It makes you cherish the people who are still around you and appreciate every last uncomplicated second of your life. From laddering your tights to stubbing your toe to getting dumped – no matter how shit your day might seem, you still have your people, and you should be nice to them while you still can.
Don’t stay mad
You should never let people treat you like shit – ever – but we all fuck up sometimes. The hope is that if we forgive people when they fuck up, that one day when we need a little forgiveness, they’ll return the favour. But whether it’s a big thing or a small thing, it’s hard to not get angry when someone wrongs you – well, it is only a normal reaction after all. Make sure your anger is appropriate to the situation though. Don’t stay angry at other people for little things for too long, because you never know if each time you see them might be the last time you ever see them again. But what about when people spectacularly wrong you? Look, I’m not saying you should forgive and forget, but your anger will consume you and turn you into a bitter person – don’t let it. Tackle your issues, move on, but don’t sit there and burn up inside because you are the only one who will suffer.
You’re not a bad person
This year, someone asked me if I thought I was a good person. I thought about it for a second and replied: ‘I don’t think I’m a bad person.’ I know I’m not a bad person, but am I good? On paper, probably not. It’s easy to think we’re bad and that we’re making all the wrong choices, but you’re probably not. So that’s not your natural hair colour. So you lied at work to get yourself out of trouble. So you slept with that guy on the first date. Big-effin’-deal. We all do stuff we’re not particularly proud of, but it doesn’t make us bad people.
How to talk to grown-ups
When the grown-ups are talking about grown-up stuff and a kid asks a really inappropriate question because they don’t know how to talk about adult stuff – hello, I am that kid but an adult. When a family friend had a kid, my mum told me what stuff I was supposed to ask her. ‘How much did it weigh?’, ‘Did you have a boy or a girl?’, ‘What is his/her name?’ – apparently those are the things you ask, whereas my first question was going to be: ‘How many stitches did you need?’ A similar thing happens when people start chatting weddings or mortgages. IDK shit about these things at all, so when you tell me you’re getting married, do you know what I’m going to ask you? I’m going to ask what kind of cake you’re serving at the reception. I’m going to ask you if there will be a DJ. I’m going to ask you if you’ve stopped to consider whether or not you’re making the biggest mistake of your life. I’m the kid at the restaurant with the colouring book, eating ketchup under the table – but that’s OK.
Family is everything
Your family are genetically programmed to love you and care about you no matter how much you’re fucking up your life – isn’t that great? But seriously, whatever your hopes and dreams are, whether it’s needing someone to financially support you while your career takes off or just someone to buy you some chocolate because you really need chocolate RN, your family will always be there for you. A special shout-out to all the mums out there, because no one will ever love you like your mum. When you’re younger you’ll think your mum is trying to ruin your fun but you will get to an age when you realise she was right about everything she ever said ever and that she never made one bad decision on your behalf. Also, if you have siblings, then you’re so lucky because life with siblings is like one continuous sleepover with your best mates, and as you grow up your friendship only gets more solid. Come rain or shine, your family are the people who will be there for you. They’re the ones who will remember your birthday, visit you when you’re ill, offer up bail money. They will tease you for that bad haircut and make loud noises when you’re hungover and if you’re really lucky your siblings will steal your mum’s phone and text you telling you that you were a mistake – and they will do it all because they love you.
Life only gets worse
Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that things can’t get worse, because they can and they will. I’m going to depress you a little bit – you’re never going to be younger than you are right now. Your life is ticking away a second at a time. Your family and friends are getting older. People die. As you get older, you health gets worse. You have more and more responsibilities by the day. Life just gets harder and harder, with new shit to contend with all of the time. Acknowledge this and get on with it. Stop thinking that things can only get better and do everything you can to make them better while you still can.
Today is all that matters
You know that stupid thing you said yesterday? It doesn’t matter. Remember when you ripped your pants at primary school and everyone laughed? No one cares now. Nervous about that speech you’ve got to give next month? Don’t worry about it. Not sure if your relationship with that guy is going anywhere? Just enjoy spending time with him and don’t sweat the labels. Worried you have no idea where your life is going? Don’t panic. Just live in the moment. The past doesn’t matter, the future might not happen, just enjoy right now. You’re alive, you’re breathing, you have all of your people around you and they’re alive and breathing too. You have a roof over your head. Brownies are a thing. Game of Thrones isn’t getting cancelled. Puppies, dude! There’s so much shit in the world, but there’s so much beauty and awesomeness. Appreciate everything you have right now.
© 2018 Girlpanion ❤️