I turn 22 tomorrow. Part of me is excited because, you know, presents but the other part of my wishes everything would just SLOW DOWN. The little 8 year old inside me still can’t quite comprehend that she’s an adult now, going to work and renting her own little house. When I first moved in I wasn’t ready for it, but I had no choice but to learn and learn FAST. That has often been the case with most of the lessons I have learnt throughout my 22 years on this earth. Life comes at you quickly and sometimes you just have to go with it and hope for the best. 

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Started from the bottom…

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Now we’re here.

  1. Always have a sanitary towel in your bag. You never know when mother nature is going to come-a-calling and you should always be prepared. After a few accidents and more than a few girls asking me if I had one spare in bathrooms, I learnt my lesson.
  2. You’re not going to ‘like’ everyone, but that doesn’t mean you cannot get along. Back in year 8 if I didn’t like someone they were automatically my worst enemy. As I have grown up I have learnt that I don’t have to ‘like’ someone to get on with them. It doesn’t mean they are bad people or that we have to be enemies, it might just mean we’re different and that’s okay – you’re not going to like everyone.
  3. Not everyone is going to like you. Following on from number 2, not everyone is going to like you and guess what? That’s okay too.
  4. Bitching says more about you than it does them. When I was younger everyone bitched about everyone. It was cruel and unnecessary. I learnt overtime that bitching about people said more about me than it did them. If you have a problem with someone the only way to resolve it is to speak to them.
  5. Pee after sex. This came as a shock to me but yes, pee after sex. Nobody wants a water infection.
  6. Relationships should be 50/50. You should never have to bleed yourself dry to maintain a relationship. Relationships should be an equal balance of give and take.
  7. Always have a bottle of water in your bag. Hydration really is key! Plus, bottled water is expensive and bad for the environment.
  8. Water looks a lot like vodka and lemonade – just keep your mouth shut. If you don’t want another drink just order tap water. Trust me, no one will notice and you’ll thank yourself for it the next day.
  9. Endings are a part of life. Endings aren’t always nice but they are a part of life and symbolise growth and change.
  10. There is no shame in vulnerability. I used to think that in order to get anywhere in life I had to be hard faced and emotionless. Remember all the Facebook quotes glorifying this? Turns out, there is no shame in vulnerability. In fact, I have grown up to find it an endearing quality in others. Without vulnerability I found that life was very lonely.
  11. Sex and self respect do not correlate. When I was younger I firmly believed that sex and self respect went hand in hand but overtime I have learnt that that is not the case. People have both self respect and sex – the two do not correlate. If they are happy and safe then it really doesn’t matter how many sexual partners an individual chooses to have.
  12. You’re going to need anti-ageing creams sooner than you thought. Okay so I haven’t got wrinkles and I’m not greying just yet BUT there is no harm in erring on the side of caution. I have recently brought myself an anti-ageing eye cream to help with early signs of ageing. Kind of expected that to be a purchase I made closer to my 40’s but there you go…
  13. Coffee is cheaper if you just make it at home. Yes I know this is obvious but honestly you will save SO much money if you cut down on your coffee shop habit and just make it at home.
  14. The laundry is not going to wash itself. Turns out it was Mum who did it! Who knew?
  15. You are your own priority. I spent a long time trying to be a people pleaser and it got me nowhere. The more I tried it seemed the less I was liked. I learnt that your happiness should be your first priority. The more I put me first, the more I found people like me who loved and supported me for who I am.
  16. Things hardly ever go to plan. Literally EVER. You really have just got to roll with every new opportunity. As a self confessed ‘planner’ this came as a shock to the system but hey, that’s life for you!
  17. Not everyone has the same heart as you. Sometimes people can be cruel and work from a different moral compass to yourself. Take lessons from these people should you come across them and remove them from your life. Do not sacrifice your inner peace for anyone.
  18. Mum knows best. It didn’t take me long to learn this but it did take me a long time to accept it. Mum’s really are always right. My Mum knows me better than I know myself and her advice always come from a place of selfless love.
  19. You don’t owe ‘looking pretty’ to anyone. Don’t want to wear make up? Don’t. Can’t be bothered to wash your hair? No worries. It took me a long time to learn this but you don’t have to ‘look pretty’. You do not owe being ‘visually appealing’ to someone – you are worth so much more than that.
  20. Heartbreak hurts but you get over it. I have had my heart broken. One time I never thought I would EVER get over it but I did. I still think about that person from time to time but it is usually with fondness. Heartbreak is a part of life. It sucks but you’re going to be fine.
  21. Dry shampoo is a gift from the gods. I thank the gods for the day dry shampoo was invented. Honestly the day I learnt I did not have to wash my hair every single day was a wonderful one.
  22. You’re never alone, even if you feel like it. There are times when I have felt very lonely but I have learnt that I am never alone. In a world where anyone is just a phone call away and friendships with your online pals are as real as friendships with those you have known in person you really are never alone. I promise.

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My last celebration living at home. 

I hope I never lose the little 8 year old inside of me who still jumps in puddles and will go out of her way to do the hop scotch on her route home from work. I might be an adult but I always want to be a child at heart. I always want to keep hold of that youthful, carefree fun whether I’m 22 or 82. Happy Birthday to me. 

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“We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public’ – Bryan White.

Jamie x 

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I don’t remember ever living with my Dad. My parents got divorced when I was about 6 months old. Throughout my childhood I had a pretty sporadic relationship with my Dad and so, for roughly the first ten years of my life, it was just me and my Mum. There are lots of stereotypes that surround single parent families that which I hope to prove are often not the case. Of course a single parent household brings with it difficulties, however, I have not only managed but I have thrived and learnt so many valuable life lessons through being bought up by my mother alone. These lessons have helped me become a braver, stronger and more independent person.

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The first thing I learnt through being bought up by only my mother, is that your mother is the best and most loyal friend you could ask for. For the last 20 years, my mother has not only been my mum but has also been the best friend I could ask for. When I was growing up it was very difficult for Mum to juggle a social life whilst bringing up a child, which meant our relationship became as much friends as it was mother and daughter. Because of this, all my life I have had someone to confide in about anything and everything. Whatever I am going through, I never feel like I have to face anything alone and there are no conversational boundaries in our household, literally anything goes! Contrary to stereotypes surrounding single parent families, this relationship meant I never needed to go through the ‘rebellious’ teen stage and never felt the need to go behind my Mum’s back. Don’t get me wrong, there were and still are moments when my mother very much takes on her authoritative role but luckily this isn’t that often.

Through my life I have always adopted the philosophy ‘say yes and figure it out later’. Now, I’m the first to admit that this has sometimes left me in some pretty sticky situations but it has also opened doors for me that I never thought were possible. Each time I agree to something, whether it goes well or not, I take something away from it and develop as a person. I entirely put this attribute down to my single parent upbringing. I have never once seen my Mum give up. She might not know how to do everything at first, but she can turn her hand to anything when she needs to. My Mum admits that bring me up alone meant she had to improvise a lot, but she figured it out.

Despite research showing that children who grow up without fathers are more likely to be unhappy, my upbringing taught me very different. From watching my Mum thrive, I learnt from a young age that happiness should always be my main priority. I have sometimes struggled with this, as I think everyone does, but having this message instilled in me from an early age helps me immensely when dealing with tough situations. My Mum’s experience taught me never to stay in a relationship you’re unhappy with – you’ll be so much better off on your own. In every aspect of your life you should always respect yourself enough to walk away from something that is no longer helping you grow, whether that be a relationship or a career.

This brings me to the last and most important thing I’ve learnt from being bought up by a single parent. Be brave. No matter how hard things get, and things will get hard, things will always get better. They might not get better over night and sometimes it will seem like everything is against you, but give it time. Walking away from something (or someone), tackling new challenges alone and remaining positive and focused during your hardest times, is scary. But you can do it if you’re brave enough to. It’s okay that things aren’t ‘perfect’ all the time, in fact, things never will be ‘perfect’, but appreciate everything that is there in front of you and always try your best to give back.

Being bought up by a single parent has never made me lack faith in love or feel any bitterness. My Mum and Dad still have a good relationship and, when I turned 12 years old, my mother married my now step-dad who I love and consider, not only part of my family, but also a friend. If anything, I have seen the strength of love people can have for each other and the strength we have inside us. Looking back on my childhood now as I leave my teenage years, no part of me feels like it was lacking anything.

I will forever be grateful to my mother for giving me so much love and being the strongest role model I could have ever asked for.

Jamie x 

Hi guys and happy Friday. I thought I would do a slightly different post for you today to mark the end of my exams and thus the end of my time as a University student (the use of the word ‘thus’ shows it’s not out of my system just yet). I decided to look back over my 3 years at University and share with you guys a few things that I have learnt along the way. Fear not, this isn’t going to be me reciting all the Kings and Queens of England or taking you through the chronology of the Cold War. Oh no, this is going to be about the things I have learnt outside of the lecture halls. So buckle in guys and let’s get started. It’s been emotional… 

 

‘The best thing since sliced bread…’

I didn’t really need to spend £27,000 to learn this, I already knew really, but when you drunkenly call your Mum at 3am on a school night to cry down the phone to her and she answers, it really does hit home what an incredible person she is. My University experience has had its ups and downs and my Mum has stood by my side through every single moment of it. She’s helped me rationalise my drunken mistakes, get through stressful exam periods and generally reminded me every single day that there is nothing that cannot be fixed. I adore this women more than anything in the whole world and I can never thank you enough for everything she has done for me over the past 3 years, never mind the past 21!

From first year to final year… Apparently I turned into a unicorn and got better at contouring.

‘You’re not big and you’re not all that clever…’

You may have got into University Jamie but, trust me, you have proven many times over the past 3 years that you are not *that* clever. It might seem like a good idea to show off your non-existent drinking skills to your new found friends by ‘taking one for the team’ in every single game of ring of fire, but it’s really not… Luckily after a few embarrassing nights out and one fall in the middle of Tesco I did learn my lesson.

Turning 19 Vs Turning 20 Vs Turning 21

‘Actually, I don’t even like nights out…’

In first year I went out ALL the time. And by all the time, I literally do mean ALL the time. I’d say we hit a nightclub 5 times a week most weeks. Turns out, I don’t really like going out. I like a few cocktails with the girls, but a night club? Nah, not for me. It took me about a year of going out 5 times a week, spending money I didn’t have and pushing my liver to it’s very limits but, after a horrendous event over the summer of my first year, I learnt it wasn’t for me. This leads me on to my next lesson…

 

My first history ball and my last…

Maybe ‘never have a fringe’ should have been something I learnt?

‘You’re perfect. Just the way you are.’ 

At the risk of sounding all Bridget Jones on you, I really did learn that everyone is perfect just the way they are. In second year my mental health was in pieces. I had had the most difficult summer of my life and I no longer wanted to be the girl I was in first year. I couldn’t be her anymore and it took me a long time to realise that that was okay. It’s fine to like different things to people, it’s fine to not ‘fit in’. I learnt that when you have the confidence to be ‘you’ you never have to pretend to people. Since learning this I have met friends that are like me and that support me in everything I do. Turns out Colin Firth was right. Who could have ever doubted Mr Darcy? 

‘If you need help, just ask.’ 

With regards to my mental health, as mentioned, second year was really tough. I had been to counselling prior for a few session and at the end of first year was feeling really good, but by second year I really didn’t think I was going to make it through the year. I really did need help and this experience taught me that there is no shame in that. I went back to the counsellor and I went to see my Doctor. In asking for help I had thrown myself a life line and, instead of feeling like I was drowning, I kind of felt that I was treading water – it was tough but I was doing it and somehow keeping afloat.

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‘It’s never too late to start over.’ 

By third year, I had changed a lot. I was no longer the girl desperate to fit in and chucking back every last shot going just to avoid been dubbed the ‘boring one’. I was being me. This was all well and good but I went into final year pretty much completely alone. I had been lucky enough to get a room back on campus (very last minute) but I knew no one and the way I saw it, no one wanted to know me either. Turns out this could not have been further from the truth. This year has been the best year of my whole University experience. I have made some incredible friends and experienced things I never thought I would have been capable of. I trained as a personal trainer and got my physical and mental health back on track. I got an internship in my dream company and I bagged myself another for next year working with my favourite magazine going – Cosmopolitan. It really is never to late to start over. I was totally on my own. 9 months on and I am the happiest I have ever been. If you’re not happy with something, don’t let fear stop you from changing it.

 

I like to think I have also learnt how to take better selfies… 

‘Things really do get better.’ 

If I take one thing away from my University experience it will be this – things really do get better. It doesn’t happen over night, it can take a really bloody long time, but it happens. When I look back at the person I was a year ago today I would have never thought I could be where I am now. I know that sounds cliched but I honestly couldn’t – I was at a point at which I genuinely did not believe I was ever going to recover. But I did. I’ve never been as happy as I am right now and no matter how hard things get I will always remember the journey I have been on to get to where I am now and it will always serve as a reminder to me that things really do get better.

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Dissertation deadline day! Cheers to that. 

University really has taught me a lot. From trivial things like the fact I actually really like coffee, to hugely profound and life changing revelations that have changed me as a person (not that finding out I like coffee hasn’t been life changing because, let’s be honest, where would my Instagram be without a pumpkin spiced latte?). I will take the lessons I have learnt over the past few years with me on my next journey, and I have no doubt I will learn a lot more along the way… 

Jamie x 

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