With my 27th birthday looming just around the corner and we are only a matter of days into a new decade, I’ve had time to reflect on how much I have changed over the last 10 years. Whether it be my looks/style or ambitions in life, I have certainly evolved into a wiser, funnier and more confident adult. From teenage hood to adulthood, here we go.
Let’s start off with something obvious; appearance. I would hope that I no longer look like a spotty, moody teenager. I certainly don’t feel like one (unless it’s that time of the month). I’ve never had a great amount of confidence in my appearance. I used to feel like a Plain Jane, just a bit… average. I didn’t have much of a style, living in boring V-necked jumpers and bootcut jeans covering the tops of my velcro trainers. My clothing reflected how I felt in the world; rather odd and out of place.
Fast forward ten years and only now, perhaps in the last two years have I really felt happy with how I look. While there will always been a voice telling me to lose weight, I have become more adventurous, I will try new thing such as dying my hair bright blue or just wearing a dress I would usually avoid. I care less about what other people think and just go for it. At the moment, my style consists of skinny jeans, oversized jumpers (because it’s winter and who doesn’t love a good oversized jumper?!), my favourite blue walking boots and a very vibrant, red blazer style coat. I wear more dresses now and I’m more open to make up (however I still keep it very minimalistic). I like how I look, how I dress and really feel like I have grown into my appearance. In a moment of self worth and appreciation, I think I look pretty good. I did this growing up thing right.
Back in 2010, depression consumed my world and I found myself on Fluoxetine and receiving CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). During one session, my therapist asked me to create a ten year timeline for the future (I chose to do 20-30 rather that 2010-2020. So it is a little bit off but as I spent the beginning of the decade working on it, it feels right to include it).
I would write each year down and what I hope to achieve by then. I still have this timeline but… Wow… My life has turned out very differently. In 2010, I was happy with the idea of earning minimum wage, getting a council house and popping out kids. Sitting here and typing that gave me chills. I could have really ruined my life. I was so young and naive but at the time, I honestly thought that’s what I wanted. It’s almost as if that’s how I thought life should be. Only smart people went to university and I wasn’t smart. When I wrote this time line, I wanted to go to university, not to be an ODP (operating department practitioner) which is what I found myself doing instead. As I have written about before, I am very easily influenced. It’s a weakness of mine and in 2010, One Born Every Minute was one of the more talked about documentary. I loved that show and thus, decided being a midwife was for me (off the record but as an ODP, I sometimes work along side midwives. I can safely say that that career was most certainly NOT for me. No regrets). As you know, I did eventually go to uni so that can somewhat be crossed off my list as ‘achieved’.
According this the time line, I was hoping to move to America by my 24th birthday… I have no desires to move to America now however, slightly later than the timeline predicted, I did move to Norfolk and visit New York. While I did fall in love, several times, I am currently single with no hugh aspirations of finding someone any time soon. That being said, the chart says I have three more years to get married and pop out a kid… What on earth was I thinking. At 27, I couldn’t think of anything worse than a mini me running around. It’s safe to say that my mentality has change over the years and things that were once important to me, are no longer at the forefront of my mind.
Before I was 21, I had only been abroad once; to Tenerife when I was 5 years old. I don’t remember much about it so have always sort of written it off. That being said, holidays and travel never really interested me. In 2012, I began exploring the idea of studying aboard. A tad ambitious for someone who hadn’t flown in almost 15 years but as YouTube culture grew and I watched more and more vloggers from America, I got consumed by the idea. Suddenly my university choices were based on who would allow me to study abroad. Unfortunately as Midwifery/Nursing courses were funded by the NHS at the time, studying aboard was just simply not an option. The idea of travelling laid dormant for a couple more years until in 2015, I visited Paris. After that, every year I’ve visited a new country and Canada will be my 8th later this year. Some of those countries have been visited with friends, family or just by myself but I am determined that regardless of my situation, I wouldn’t put my plans on hold. If I want to visit China, I will visit China.
Friends and Family.
At the start of the decade I was very isolated. I didn’t have any friend and I spent all my time with my teenage boyfriend, childishly planning a fantasy of a future together. I spent so much of my life moving around that I just didn’t know how to make friends. The kids at school had already established their friendship groups, most of them had gone to primary school together and had all these stories that I just wasn’t part of. And the more I moved, the more I looked like an outsider. Kids couldn’t understand why someone would move around so much, and frankly, I couldn’t explain why either. As well as that I had only known my extended family for a few months and building connections with people I could only have imagined meeting as a child, was very overwhelming. They also lived a 3hour drive away. At home it was just Mum and I and while she slaved away to put food in the table, I repaid her by hurling abuse, sparking endless arguments and genuinely making life a hell hole. I am not proud of this. I was a nightmare of a teenager but by 16, I have been though more stuff than most adult experience in their life times… plus hormones never help.
Now? My mother is my best friend. Over the last ten years I have strived to make her proud, to prove to her that her struggles created a child who graduated university. That the endless hours she worked, the nights she fell asleep on the sofa after being at work all day, they paved away for future generations to strive. My mother helped me break the council estate cycle in our family and I will forever be grateful for her support. I also have friends now. I have ‘friends’ and I have my ‘second family’ made up on 3 of my closest companions. I’ve learnt to just be me and people will like me for me. I don’t feel the need to change myself anymore. I’ve relaxed and in turn I listen to other people, I care about other people. I no long only care about myself because I am the only one I can trust, I let people in and respect others. And trust me, it’s a much easier life.
This is probably the biggest and best change in me. I had such little confidence ten years ago. I hid behind masks as it felt like I wasn’t worth anyone’s time. I’d spent so much of my life moving around, moving countries, never being settled that I never got a change to be me. To discover who I was. The town I was living in at the time was a small ex-mining town, littered with council estates and felt very much like a prison. People were born there, they had their kids there and they would die there. If you were going on holiday, it would be to Skegness, two hours away. I wouldn’t say things in fear of being laughed at or sounding stupid. I cared too much about what other thought of me. Leaving that death trap was probably the best thing I ever did and I left it to go to the University in Huddersfield. University was the first place I ever felt like me. Despite the eating disorder, the distance from my family, the long hours at placement or the sleepless nights filled with essay writing, I could be whoever I wanted to be. I had to be independent, I had to make friends or I’d never have survived. These people taught me new skills, educated me on different parts of the UK. Different life stories and dynamics. At uni, you could be as weird or as reserved as you liked and there would be a group of people just like you. I flourished and even though it was probably one of the darkest times of my life, I look back with fondness. Huddersfield, you shaped me. And now? I will do what makes me happier. I can live on my own, I can talk to anyone about anything. I can stand up in stage, shaking like a leave but I will do it. I will always try because failure only makes you stronger.
I can’t wait to see what the next ten years hold. Hopefully I will have found someone who loves my craziness and Cloves constant cuddles. I hope my confidence continues to grow, as does my self love. Growing up teaches you a lot and the way I deal with difficult situations now is completely different to ten years ago. The most important thing is that I am the happiest I have ever been. Go me!