20 things I have learnt in 20 years

On the 2nd August I turned twenty! As I now venture off to explore everything my twenties is set to bring, I thought it was important to recognise everything I have learnt (particularly in my teenage years). I have managed to make it through my GCSEs, A-levels and now I am venturing off into my final year of university. In all those years I learnt a lot about myself and adulting. Now I would love to share some of the things I have learnt with you. 

  1. Do not shape your own eyebrows

This is coming from the girl who grew up with incredibly thick eyebrows. Thankfully Cara Delevingne made thick eyebrows the ‘in’ thing before I could get my hands on a pair of tweezers. I think that watching Georgia Nicolson shave off half her eyebrow in Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging also managed to deter me from touching my own brows. This is one of those situations where it is better to leave it to the professionals. I have spoken to so many beauticians over the years who have told me multiple horror stories of women who have accidently waxed off a chunk of their eyebrow. So, leave the stress of threading, plucking and waxing to a professional who knows their craft. 

2. Bar work is tough 

Next time you are out clubbing please take sympathy upon bar workers. This job can be so gruelling. Standing on your feet for eight hours whilst dealing with drunk customers is hard enough, but I cannot describe how much cleaning is involved when you work at a bar. All that rubbish, alcohol and sick needs to be cleaned off the floor by someone and a lot of the time it is the bar staff who are given that job. Next time you are at a bar or a club please be kind to the person pulling the pints because long after you are tucked up in bed, they will still be picking up empty glasses and scrubbing the bar into the early hours. 

3. Avoid make up wipes 

This is another beauty tip I have learnt from many make-up experts over the years. Make-up wipes just drag your foundation and dead skin around your face. I wish I had learnt this when I first began smearing Maybelline foundation across my face when I was fourteen. Make-up wipes are convenient, especially when you have just got into your bedroom after a late finish at university and all you want to do is lie in bed and watch Fresh Meat. Although, I found they acted as a contributing factor to break outs. I would really recommend trying cleansers. Personally, I use Lush’s 9-5 to take off my make-up and I have seen a HUGE improvement in my skin. 

4. Do not search your symptoms online 

If you google your symptoms you will convince yourself, you are on the brink of death. The stress is not worth it. I know it is tempting to search for the advice of others online, but a lot of the people handing out medical advice online are not in a position to diagnose your symptoms. If you are concerned about your health and need advice use the NHS’ 111 online service. It is great if you feel uncomfortable chatting over the phone or you are unsure about whether to visit your GP. 

5. The 999 iPhone feature 

I discovered this feature whilst watching a YouTube video and I think it is something every iPhone user should be aware of. Depending on what handset you have you can hold a combination of buttons and your phone will automatically call the emergency services. If you are in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation this feature could be a lifesaver. For my iPhone, which is an iPhone 8 plus, you have to hold down the power button and one of the volume buttons at the same time. Then you can either drag the Emergency SOS button and your phone will automatically call 999 or if you cannot drag the Emergency SOS button your phone will begin a 10 second countdown before ringing 999.

6. Do not leave a bleach bottle without the lid on 

To most people this is common sense, however I learnt the difficult way, that you should never put a bleach bottle down without the lid on. After enduring numerous procedures (one of which involved having orange dye poured into my eye) I discovered the importance of being cautious when using any cleaning products. Now I style out scrubbing my bathroom wearing sunglasses because I do not think I can endure any of those procedures for a second time. 

7. Not my monkey. Not my circus

This is a piece of advice that my Mum has passed onto me and my sister. Do not take responsibility for other people’s issues. You are not responsible for other people. You are an individual. You have to focus on your life first because unless you are feeling 110% you are not capable of helping anyone else. 

8. How to get a house deposit back

This is a piece of advice for any of my fellow students. Do not allow landlords or letting agencies to take your money without a valid reason. If you do not agree with their claims, then query it. During my time at university a letting agency attempted to take a percentage of my deposit at the end of the year on the grounds that the property was damaged. I knew that this claim was invalid and an attempt to take more of my money. For weeks I queried the issue and eventually the company admitted they had no evidence for their claim. Consequently, they were forced to give me back my deposit in full. 

9. Never be a bystander 

It is so important to use your voice in certain situations. If you do not feel confident enough to confront an individual directly then go to someone in a position of authority who can help. At university I have witnessed situations at all hours of the day and night in which individuals have acted inappropriately towards others. On one occasion I saw three men surround a young female student who was clearly drunk and attempt to force her to come home with them after a night out. In that situation I informed multiple people of what I had seen, and I managed to speak to the girl directly. At university you will see situations like this. Do not just ignore it. 

10. Know your limits & do not jeopardise your safety 

This is definitely a piece of advice for any freshers out there. University is that time in every young person’s life to experiment, particularly with alcohol, however never put yourself in a situation where you become vulnerable. Always make sure you are in a group on a night out. Never walk home alone. If a friend goes home alone in a taxi be that friend who makes sure they get home okay. Prove to your parents, friends and the world that you can adult in a new city without ending up in a dodgy situation by the end of the night. 

11. How to budget as a student 

Prioritise the basics and plan long term. It can be tempting to buy a whole new wardrobe for your new year at university in October, although you will find that by Christmas you haven’t got a penny to your name. I would really recommend buying a cheap notebook as your new bill book. Work out each instalment of your maintenance loan and then factor in rent, bills, food and books first. You will then be left with your clothing, homewares and alcohol budget for the term. 

12. The importance of ‘you’ time 

This is so important at any stage in your life. Don’t let your work rule your life. I learnt this in my A-level exams. I was waking up at 7am and then working through till 7pm stressing for hours about work during exam season. I felt burnt out before my exams had even started. I then made the decision that every single day I would take an hour at the start of the day to go swimming or hit the gym. Then at the end of the day I would have a cut off time when I would stop working and just relax.

13. Getting a seat at the Philip Robinson library in exam season is virtually impossible 

Any Newcastle University student will be fully aware of this dilemma. Every year during exam season the Robinson library becomes every student’s home from home. I learnt the hard way that there is no point walking to the library at lunch time and expecting to find a seat. I took the early bird strategy of rushing into the library for 8:30am most days and I have all of that to look forward to again this year. 

14. You can watch a cult film & have a glass of wine for £4 at Tyneside cinema on a Monday night

I absolutely love cult classics at Tyneside cinema. I have seen films such as 10 Things I Hate About You, Big Fish and Aliens all with a glass of wine in my hand. This is one of the many reasons I love Tyneside cinema. The film starts at 8:30pm in the Tyneside Café and you can choose between wine, beer or a spirit for just £4. Alternatively, you can choose the soft drinks option for only £2. 

15. Flares is the best nightclub in Newcastle

Most people would probably disagree with this statement however the best nights out I have ever had all started in Flares. I am that girl who would rather dance to B*witched and S Club 7 than the UK Top 40. Newcastle is infamous for its night life and whilst I love Swingers and Soho, I’ll always be a Flares girl at heart. 

16. How to move 184.9 miles away from home for university 

In the summer before university I was so excited to move away from home and get to university. I was petrified too and at times it was tough (especially when my Mum and sister had to leave me at my first-year accommodation on the first day), however I have met some of the best people at university. Don’t get me wrong there will be difficult moments. You might not get the marks you want; you might feel homesick or you might not see eye to eye with everybody but as a whole university is an amazing experience. To anyone moving to university this September or already there I would really suggest joining different societies as it is the best way of meeting likeminded people and before you know it, you’ll feel right at home. 

17. Do not waste your money on brand new university books (Especially if you’re an English Literature student)

I made this mistake in my first year. It is pointless buying 10 brand new books from Waterstones because after that week you will probably never touch that book again. As an English Literature student, you might be expected to read 7+ books for a module and you will write an essay using maybe three books maximum. Therefore, if you’re taking a literature heavy subject, I recommend buying second hand books from Amazon or from websites such as World of Books to save you a massive amount of money. 

18. Follow people on social media who make you feel better. Not worse

I cannot emphasise this enough. It will do nothing for your well-being to follow people on social media who make you feel insecure or negative. My favourite person I have discovered through social media is Chessie King (her Instagram handle is @chessiekingg). This woman is SO amazing. I could rave about her for hours. She posts photos showing her skin with no make-up, her cellulite and her tummy rolls and I am ALL for this. She is living her best life, but she also documents the moments when she is struggling with PMS or having a low day. This woman encourages women to be proud of their bodies and as a young woman I am so glad to be seeing confident women like her on my Instagram feed. 

19. To have confidence in my own creative writing

When I first got to university, I really struggled in my creative writing seminars to read my work to the rest of the class. I was envious of those students who would happily read their prose to the rest of the class and not even bat an eyelid. Eventually my seminar leader forced me to read some of my work to the class and I am so glad that she did because it not only boosted my confidence, but also allowed me to receive feedback from my peers.

20. How to set up my own blog 

I wanted to set up a blog for years and I never had the confidence to just go for it until recently. I think that when people get to university having a passion is no longer something you should feel embarrassed about. You have to start somewhere, and you should be proud of the things you love. If someone is going to judge you for doing something you enjoy then that says more about them then it does about you. 

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