Lessons Learned- Birthday Edition

Yesterday was  my birthday, and I am 21, and that feels like a big deal for some reason. The last couple birthdays have not been fantastic, but I had been looking forward to this one for some reason. It was my first birthday away from home, and some of the people I’m closest to here are away for Easter break, but it was the most amazing day. I didn't do anything over the top, but I did make myself a cake made out of chocolate chip cookies. For my birthday-themed post, I looked back at pictures from the past year to remind myself of some important lessons I’ve learned.

1.       Living with people is going to come with issues.

I moved to Leeds back in September, and I have to live with people for the first time. It’s more difficult than I thought it would be. Between the Tetris-esque stack of dishes by the sink, flatmates who refuse to clean the bathrooms, and thin walls that make it so you hear all the sex everyone is having, there have been some frustrating moments. The only thought getting me through those times has been “this is temporary.” Of course, there will be some great things that come out of it. I’m thinking about a trip to Philadelphia next year to visit my current American flatmates. It's certainly a balance of good and bad, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to meet so many different people.

2.       The right friends will make an effort.

The thing about moving away is that you start to see who is fully supporting you. When I found out about my exchange, I made a discreet post on Facebook so that only some people knew what I was actually talking about. I was overcome with messages of congratulations, and one friend even bought me a cake! When it came to the day I left, the same people messaged me or came out for a night out before I left. The night before I left, one friend came over after work, and two friends came over after their busiest day at school so they could say goodbye. Some friends didn’t bother. The friends who put the effort in make all the difference in my life, and I know that more than ever now.
20th Birthday Wine and Cheese with Marlee.

3.       You’ll catch up with the people who seem to be ahead of you.

I have always been the single girl with friends who are in long-term relationships. It sucks. I always felt like I was missing out or behind. Over the past year, I had one friend get married and another get engaged. I had a conversation with my dad about this, and he told me that’s going to happen all throughout my life. By the time I’m at the same stage in my life, these friends will probably be having kids. It happens, but my dad says you’re going to catch up. I’m no longer in the same position, so I’ve realized that as slow as it seems to be taking, your lives will synch up again.

4.       "Grin and bear" it is a key tip to professionalism.

I love my job, and my staff over the summer was the best yet. I worked with a lot people from the past and maintained old friendships. We partied and hung out often. However, there was one staff member that I didn’t get along with. I made the mistake of calling him out a party (another lesson learned), and things were tense between us. I obviously couldn’t let this tension show at work, so I learned about what it means to be professional even when you don’t want to be. Sometimes, you need to suck it up and pretend like they're your best friend.

5.       It is okay to speak up when you don’t believe in something your friend is doing.
I’m the kind of person who will speak up for something I don’t believe is right. Over the past year, I found myself confronting a friend about a life decision I thought to be questionable. It almost lost me a friendship. However, having mature adult conversations is a part of life, and we both learned how to talk things out in that way. I don’t regret my decision. Even though it caused a major riff in our relationship for a time, I know it was worth it to speak up because I would have tortured myself by keeping it in.
Stonehenge with new friends.

6.       Spontaneity can be awesome.

I don’t consider myself to be a particularly spontaneous person. At the end of the last school year, I got it into my head that I wanted to chop my hair off. Within 24 hours of that idea, I booked an appointment and went through with it. It was one of the best decisions I have made regarding the way I look. I don’t think I’m going to make spontaneous decisions a part of my everyday life, but it would be cool to see how future spontaneous decisions could be included in my life.

7.       Be careful who you host parties with.

Whether it be a flat party, birthday party, or bridal shower, this point is valuable to keep in mind. It may seem like the greatest idea to host a party with your roommates, friends, or siblings, but you need to make sure everyone involved is completely on board. If you’re hosting a party together, tasks should be divided equally. A party isn’t just about the social aspect or pulling food or drinks together. It includes a lot of work before, during, AND after. For example, splitting food/drink costs before, checking on food supplies during, and doing the major cleanup after are all important aspects. Make sure everyone is committed to splitting ALL the tasks at hand, and the party will be flawless.

So there we go. I’ve learned a lot in this past year, and I can’t wait to see what I will learn as a 21 year old!


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