All at Once.
I didn’t feel as though I ever needed to be taught that success does not come easy and takes time, hard work and a lot of patience. I assumed that this was obvious and that I was prepared to work for what I wanted and wait for it. When I hit my 20s, I realised just what this really means and how much work it takes and how much patience you need. A LOT.
At 18, looking ahead at my life moving out of home and into University, I thought I knew where I would be by now turning 24. A house of my own was a given, if not already in my hands I’d be well on my way. I’d have travelled extensively and at that time I had also planned living abroad/travelling for a while; I’d own my own horse, have a nice car, a good job and a rife social life. I have never really been one that has said “I want kids or to be married by this age…” — maybe because I wasn’t in a relationship at 18 and liked the idea of that part of my life being a mystery.
I had never really considered just how much time, effort and money these goals would take to reach, despite just being utterly unrealistic in every way. Most places I wanted to visit were outside Europe, requiring an expensive plane journey for starters and I’m not sure how I thought a gap year would set me up for a mortgage at 24.
I would say I worked pretty damn hard throughout University and spent a lot of my days off volunteering for charities within the Criminal Justice remit — and because of this I did land myself a pretty good job just weeks after finishing my final year. I did have quite an easy start to the real life and I do sometimes wonder whether this is what allowed me to hold onto these unrealistic expectations. Starting at £25K a year at just 22 — it would surely be no time before I achieved it all. I started booking my hair in every 6 weeks at an expensive salon having ballayage treatment and began living the lifestyle I now realise you have to earn and is something that comes with time. I, to this day, rarely say no to anything and struggle not to be generous at Birthdays, Christmas and even just on general occasions with friends and family.
I quickly bought myself my favourite car on finance — an AUDI TT and it was an absolute dream. I hadn’t considered how spending 1/3 of my wage packet on a car might not be the greatest of ideas, but my parents and partner decided allowed me to learn that for myself (probably because they knew I wouldn’t listen if they tried to stop me!). Within 5 months I had sold the TT and felt like I was back to square one and since then until very recently, I have found myself beating myself up about how long it seemed to be taking me to get where I wanted to be. I didn’t realise how hard I was on myself until I really started taking self-awareness seriously and concentrating on the words I read in the self help books and Ted Talks blogs. Everyone around me seems to have it made up — seems to know what they want and where they are going. In this social media world I found myself obsessed with, I just didn’t measure up to everyone around me. I didn’t seem to earn as much, I didn’t seem to be as successful, I didn’t seem to be doing well enough.
There are a few milestones that helped me to realise I needed to sort myself out. The first one was when I found myself engrossed in every single “Hey, it’s OK…” Glamour blog that has ever been produced online. I mean, ok, it’s funny, I can laugh about it now, but I found myself searching for clarification that I was not a complete psychopath in every single one. Thank God I’m not the only “adult” who makes a list starting with “wash my hair” when I’ve already done it. The worst milestone in my self pity was leaving work feeling absolutely worthless and finding myself in Waterstones at the counter with a book in my hands called “How To Be A Grown Up”. I think I quickly realised how pathetic I must have looked when the cashier looked me in the same way I look at my dog when he tries to race a whippet in the park, not gonna happen honey, you look cute though.
I am now coming out of a time that I would consider to be quite a difficult one in relation to my own personal self growth, mental health and self awareness. I have had a few stumbles, breakdowns, moments of wanting to give up and forget everything I had planned and ultimately throwing my toys out of the pram because I don’t have it all. I don’t even have half of what I had planned. I hadn’t planned to go through a difficult time on the way, I hadn’t planned to feel so inadequate at times or for my plans to change because they just didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. Nobody tells you that this happens though, do they? Instagram doesn’t really factor in what to do when you feel like life just isn’t going your way right now apart from providing you with a meaningless quote that you can post to feel sorry for yourself if you fancy.
I have reached a place where I can finally begin to build myself back up and actually start feeling good about myself and all the things I should be proud of. I have a pretty good job in exactly the field I am passionate about. I have an incredible gang of girls around me that make me laugh until I cry and are always there for me no matter what — through all of this too. Their patience and humour when I’m being ridiculous is a God send. I have a family that loves and supports me. I have my health. I rent a beautiful flat in a gorgeous rural area with my partner and I am continuing my passion horse riding as often as I can. Not to mention my partner himself and his patience. His messages, his cards, his pep talks and nights he has sat up late just cradling me and telling me it’s going to be alright. At the time, I didn’t take any of it in but now I absolutely know he was right and I owe him everything for absolutely taking me at my worst and weakest and just loving me unapologetically. I have dragged him and our relationship through my disorientated view of nothing being good enough and having to make everything better, but he knew things would get better and I would come out the other side.
This year alone, I have travelled to Amsterdam, Ireland, Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Atlantic City/New Jersey and Marbella and I still have holidays booked to go to Turkey with the girls and then Toyko and the Philippines on the trip of a lifetime. I might not own a house, but this was a choice we made that we wanted to live together first and spend some time travelling before committing to a mortgage, so that one has been put back a little and now instead of beating myself up about this decision, I realise that we were absolutely the right and this was the most sensible decision we could have made.
In 2017 I have realised absolutely that nothing comes easy and success takes hard work and dedication. I consider myself lucky now to lead a life where I have to work for the things I want because it is definitely true that all the places I have been so fortunate to visit have felt so much better because I know I earnt those trips and worked hard for them. I have learnt that it is a blessing to have such a big heart and be so generous, but sometimes you have to say no and be selfish because you cant afford to do everything and your friend really wont mind that you spent £20 instead of £50, she knows you love her ass. I vow to read this blog if I ever doubt myself, because I am one lucky lady and I am incredibly fortunate to be looking forward to a life with my hardworking, handsome and bloody successful Mr, but I just have to be patient. I cant have the car, the horse, the holidays, the house, the marriage, the children, the social life, the success, the body and the luxurious lifestyle all at once. So for now? I’m taking living with my best friend and travelling the world on some freakin’ amazing holidays. Oh and writing my first blog! That’s a milestone right?!
At 23, I might not have it all, but I am rich in many ways and I have so much to look forward to. Lesson officially learned. Next?..