What I have learnt in my 20’s

Being selfish is not a bad thing


For much of your life you may feel that you’ve always tried to people please, and alike me, that the happiness of others is far more important than your own happiness. Whilst this is a really lovely way to be and a part of my personality that I am proud of, I had let it get to the point whereby my identity was based on others happiness, and their ideas of me. During my early 20s many things changed in my life. I left university, I got my first ‘real job’ and I started to become more independent. Alongside this, people were asking more and more of me; and unfortunately people started using guilt to ensure I pleased them instead of pleasing myself. I’m an emotionally driven person and if somebody isn’t happy, I would help them in whatever way I could and absolutely prioritise them. But something had to give. What gave was me.

I started to say no.

“No, I’m really sorry that you feel let down but I won’t be going to that.”

“No, I don’t agree with what you just said and I won’t be including myself in that.”

I started focusing on what I wanted, instead of focusing on what others wanted from me. I realised if I wasn’t going to, I would be stepped all over & that’s not their fault for asking it of me, it’s my fault for giving it to them. People will react to you changing and you will get disapproval in many forms. As you’ve been thriving from the approval and seeking the approval through people pleasing, you may really struggle with making this change and you may feel selfish and very guilty. This is where your discourse with yourself in your head is vital. You need to be positive to yourself, at all times. Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself you’re doing well, that you’re not selfish as a person, that you deserve as much love as you provide to others.


Push yourself in your career now


I’ve always been very ambitious. I’ve always wanted to work hard and my career be a space whereby I could test and push myself. Academically, I was always capable and very much enjoyed writing and reading. But more so, my motivation has been that I enjoy helping people. I know that sounds very cliche and kind of unrealistic in a corporate environment but actually it’s how you look at what you’re doing and your attitude about your involvement in your job role. I used my early 20s to get experience and a skill set in Research Administration, and ensured I took every opportunity to develop myself. Sometimes that meant leaving my comfort zone in a small way, sometimes that meant having that really difficult conversation. Whatever it was, if it felt at all scary, it’s going to be developing you and it’s going to make you better at your job. I stayed in each job I had for around 12 months, gaining the necessary experience and luckily working with some great supportive people who support me still to this day. I’m currently in a great job, I have climbed to a point whereby I am more financially comfortable but of course, I feel I could give more. I’ve been in this role for 4 months, and only just feel like I’m settled into what I do.  The next step would be management. I can do a blog post about entering that pathway when it comes along if you like.

You’ll know who your real friends are by now


This is a complex point. Friendships are fluid, they change and adapt over time, moving with memories and feelings, dipping and slowing, racing and stopping altogether. The experience of being friends is wonderful – you can have a connection as if you are siblings, or laugh so much you feel joy when they’re around. All of the experiences we have with friends, in any way, are vital to our understanding of who we are as people, and who we are as the friend ourselves. In my early 20s lots of friendships drifted, many entered my life and many are still here today. The ones that have left are no less important than the others, they taught me many things, some good and some bad, but all nonetheless a lesson. The important part of losing and gaining friends is understanding that it’s never a bad thing. Losing people can feel horrible, I know, but if it’s happening or happened, there’s a very good reason for that. Go with the natural flow of your heart, encourage yourself to be open and honest about what and who you want around. I learnt in my early 20s that trust is everything to me. The friends I have today I can completely trust, I absolutely adore and they’re the kind of people I’d phone at 3am if I was in the cr*p. They know me as I really am and accept me for flaws and all, and I accept them.

Life is short, we are not immortal

Again, seems awfully cliche. But totally true. The biggest thing I’ve learnt this year is that money, buildings and belongings are all wonderful things; luxurious and exciting. But they’re not your family, they’re not your friends. They’re just stuff. The people around you are what matters. The ones providing you with support via dinners and chats, the ones who text you every morning to see how you’re doing, the ones who buy you a bar of chocolate to say they love you. They’re the people that matter, they’re the people who are real. The money is great, sure, but when life comes down to it, all that really matters is us and our loved ones. My perspective has shifted recently and I don’t believe it’ll ever go back and I’m bloody grateful I’ve opened my eyes to what matters now so I can appreciate life for what it is, not what it can sometimes seem.

People will hurt you

This is a really important point. People will hurt you, they’ll upset you, they’ll betray you and they’ll disregard you. They’ll probably even be a bit mean to you. And that’s what happens. The key is to accept that. Accept that people will hurt you, forgive them anyway. Accept that people will really make you angry and you’ll feel really let down by them, forgive them anyway. The only person that you will keep hurting by holding onto anger is you. Don’t let someone else’s negativity get you down or bring you down. Their unhappiness is not your shit. In fact, if their unhappiness means they’re having a go at you, they’re probably perceiving you to be incredibly happy and are jealous. Feel sorry for them, reach out to them and ask if they’re OK. There’s a fantastic saying, actually:

“If somebody is trying to bring you down, it means they believe you’re better than them”

Remember that.



  1. Ce
    October 14, 2017 / 8:18 pm

    Love this! There’s a difference between being selfish and putting ourselves first. If we don’t prioritise ourselves at this vital time of change and shift in our lives, we never will. And that means we risk being unhappy. #wisewordsofAm ❤️

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