Learning to be my best self: Ten lessons from my twenties

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a gorgeous girl in her early twenties who reminded me so much of myself at her age.

This encounter triggered a reflection of a few life lessons I've learnt in my twenties, ten of which I've listed below:

1. Always trust your gut

Too many times I chose to believe others rather than what my gut instinct was telling me. But I am all the more stronger for it now, and know with absolute certainty that I should always trust my instincts and back myself more.

2. Let it go

I am so much stronger and more resilient now because of life experiences. With the wisdom of age, I've learnt that the small stuff really isn't worth the stress and worry. Similarly, don't let painful past experiences hold you back from living life to the full. I've been hurt before - but I've learnt that time is a precious currency that need not be wasted on those that don't treat you with the respect and love that you deserve.  

3. Travel - as much as you can

I am yet to fulfil my "30 countries before 30 years old" - although I am close! Travel can be a life-changing adventure that challenges you in so many different ways. Different cultures, different foods, different languages, perhaps even different sports! It's a wonderful way to open your eyes up to the world around you, and can help you to maintain perspective when you're back in the daily grind of life at home. 

4. Always make an effort with your family 

Growing up in the country, I'm incredibly lucky to have a strong sense of family values instilled in me. But it's only as my parents have started to get a bit older that I've really begun to appreciate the fragility of life and how quickly everything can change. Embrace every opportunity you have to see your family!

5. Quality over quantity 

Despite social media offering accessibility to masses of people, I've come to appreciate that when it comes to clothes, wine and especially friends - I'd choose quality over quantity any day. Everyone goes through moments of need - make sure you have great friends you can call up at any time of the day or night. This has meant letting go of some friendships that weren't bringing out the best in me - and that's not always easy. But it's so important to put your happiness and your values first.  

6. Read - as much as you can

We live in a world where knowledge has never been more accessible! One of my friends had all of us reading "The Defining Decade" by Meg Jay when we were in our mid-twenties, and I can't say enough good things about it. The insights gained from reading can help broaden your perspective, deepen your understanding of life and relationships and help shape your emotional intelligence. Plus it's a much better way to unwind before bed than Netflix. Don't like to read? Try listening to podcasts instead. I always have a few loaded on my phone for whenever I might be going for a walk or drive. 

7. Be kind to yourself

Exercise often, but don't punish yourself by over-exercising. Eat well, and don't feel guilty for indulging every now and again! Take time out for the things you love. Your twenties is a time where you can be selfish - get to know yourself well. The relationship you have with your self is one of the most important ones you'll ever have. In my mind, selfishness had always been a negative trait. It wasn't until I came to appreciate how taking time out to look after myself, meant that I was a better person around others. I realised this small sacrifice benefits everyone! I'm a better person at work if I've taken the time to exercise, eat well and get enough sleep. I'm a better friend when I can clearly articulate my thoughts and feelings and provide good advice because I'm not tired, stressed or anxious.

8. Set goals

Much research has been done around the benefits of goal setting. Whether they relate to travel, study, career or savings, goals will help you stay focused and motivated. Write them down and talk to friends and family about them, as this will hold you more accountable. 

9. Find mentors 

I am incredibly lucky to have had a couple of wonderful mentors during my twenties. Both professionally and personally, never be too proud to take on advice and feedback. Find someone who you respect, admire and who you can be completely honest with, and who in turn treats you with respect - and who also believes in you! 

10. Don't be afraid of mistakes - see them as learning opportunities 

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone hurts. Everyone says or does things they regret. Know when to apologise - and don't beat yourself up about it. Whether it's failed relationships, unhappy workplaces, or strained friendships - see these as opportunities to learn and grow. Don't be afraid to laugh at your mistakes either - it's a sign of confidence!