Today is my Birthday and I am turning 24!! I briefly mentioned last week how I seem to have not got my head around the fact I am in my twenties, never mind being in my mid twenties now. I remember when I was little and whenever I met someone in their twenties they seemed like a proper adult. You know, married, kids, house kind of adult. And anything older than that was seriously old. Now, with the help of the endless Buzzfeed articles sighting how difficult it is becoming an adult, being in my twenties doesn't feel like a proper adult at all. I do lots of 'adulty' things like discuss how expensive washing tablets are, spend more time on the phone to Talk Talk than I wish, and appreciate the joy expensive bedding can bring. And I think we can all list off the menial things like these that make us feel like 'adults'. There is a certainly a tendency to boil it down to things like that too, and while the little things do certainly contribute to adulthood and it's responsibilities on a whole, they are small pieces in a much larger puzzle. For me, my twenties so far have been about finding what makes me happy, and gaining clarity on what that is. These things change year on year, and range from the little things like expensive bedding, to greater aspects like my relationships and career. I fully anticipate for this to evolve and change throughout the rest of my 20s too, and I hope that I can refine it further through those years too. But, for now, I want to share with you all the things I have learnt so far about being happy in my twenties...
Sometimes the best way to ascertain what will make you feel happy is working out what stops you feeling happy. In terms of my work, I am happiest when I am mostly working from home, with the odd trip to London or further afield a few times a month. When I am rushing about too much from A to B I feel too stressed out and behind on content, but when I am working at home for a solid week I go completely stir crazy by Friday, so I have to have a balance of them both. In terms of what goes on in my own head, I can be my own worst enemy. Too much time on my own means too much time with my own thoughts, which means jumping on board the oh-so fun 'compare yourself to other people' train which takes me right to the least productive space I could ever go to. Too much time with other people makes me feel like I haven't had enough time with my thoughts, like things aren't aligned properly in my head, and again my productivity will suffer! It certainly comes down to balance; balancing how much you work, how much time you spend with your other half, how much time you spend with friends, how much time you spend doing things for just you. I don't think I will ever get the balance right, but for the most part I am really happy with where I have got it to so far.
I think it's no surprise that the people you surround yourself with play a huge part in your happiness. I think it's common that as you get older for your friend group to narrow. Everyone gets busier and busier with life, and the friends that remain through that are the ones that will be there forever. I am lucky to have an incredible group of friends. The kind of ones who aren't high maintenance enough to put pressure on you to see each other all the time, but also aren't lazy enough to let months pass without speaking with one another. Again, it's a balance, but a rewarding one. I am first to admit sometimes I cannot be bothered with social plans. When the call of the sofa is stronger than the desire to sit down for a catch up... we all know the feeling! But I often feel my very very best when I have spent some quality time with my friends, and had a good laugh and a catch up!
Also being in a relationship plays a huge part in my happiness. Harry and I have almost been together for six years - earlier this year I wrote a post about being in a long term relationship in your 20s, and everything I said there still holds true. I do want to murder him sometimes, but despite it he still makes me incredibly happy. Harry supports me and my weird and wonderful job that invades our relationship too much sometimes, and he is also the first person to sit down and talk to me about how I feel when I'm on the aforementioned "compare yourself to other people" train. It's so important to find that support system (it doesn't have to be a partner!) and allow yourself to fall back on it whenever you need it.
Finally, those little things I mentioned at the beginning that create the bigger picture. I have learnt to prioritise them, to keep the little things working around me so the big things seem easier. Lighting a candle on an evening makes me feel calm, so I make sure to always have candles in the house. M&S Gold tea is my favourite, and I can't start my day without it, so I don't. We even bring it on holiday with us! Everyone's "little things" are completely different but they play a huge part in the overall balance of life.
Of course this doesn't summarise adulthood at all. I've not touched on financial responsibilities, pressures that come along with renting or being a homeowner, or even the (far away) prospect of children. But, for me, all of these things are 10x easier to fathom when you know you're happy. And while my crystal ball doesn't let me see into the future (it's actually a paperweight, such a shame) I do think that maybe every decade of your life will come back to this too.