I’ve been trying to write this post for several years. Yes, years. This is actually the second time I’m writing this post today alone, and as I retired the first attempt into my drafts where it will live forever, I decided to take a look at what other posts have ended up stuck in drafts over the years, and it seems that since 2018, I’ve been trying to share with ya’ll what I’ve learned since graduating and struggling to find the words. But, here it is, a very honest reflection of how I’ve grown since graduating, four years ago now…
I definitely can put my life into different stages when it comes to personal growth. Of course, there were the awkward secondary school years where for me, finding confidence was my biggest task at hand. Sixth form starts, and you step into a newer dimension of “growing up” – boys became a firm topic of constant chatter between me and my friends, and by the end of year 13, I was without my parents for the first time ever and off on my first girl’s holiday. Next up – University. This is big, because in many cases, it means moving out; so whilst you’re dealing with learning how to use the washing machine and cook for yourself, you’re also trying to figure out what to do with your so called career, and balancing that with all types of school dramas. Full-time work is a different beast. It’s not like school where each new year was defined and came with a new, but very clear, challenge. If you’re not careful, you might end up running along a wheel, doing the same thing every day and eventually feeling truly unsatisfied. In all these stages – my post grad years have been the biggest years for personal growth for me. If you knew me in uni and not since – I’ve changed. If you knew me in secondary school and not since – well, I’m a totally different person.
Here are a few of the main things I’ve learned since graduating…
I’ve learned how to stay in my own lane
We’re living in such a different time compared to the baby boomer generation and that’s due to the joys of social media. I am pretty active on social media – I tweet a lot of the random shiz on my mind, I have a social media page to support this blog and just to generally share my life and then I have a social media page dedicated to all things fitness. But one thing I do recognise about social media is how toxic it can be and how it leads you to forever compare your life to others.
If you’re not careful, social media will consume you, and not in a great way. You’ll base your worth off of likes, and drain your account trying to keep up with others online by living absolutely outlandishly. I’ve seen it in the worst ways – people literally taking a photo of their bill at an expensive restaurant, or trying to casually get their new Rolex into every shot on the gram… it can only be for approval of others. I definitely got sucked into it at first too – when I first graduated I wanted everyone to know that I was doing just fine too you know.
These days I’m in a much better place. Perhaps it helps that I am quite happy with where I am in life currently (well, a lot of the time. But – always striving for more please), but I’ve also just learned over time to see the bigger picture and stay in my own lane. I certainly do not feel like I need to stunt for anyone, and as the wise Jemma Collins says… “I’m just tryna be me”. Honestly, I’m so happy with where I’ve gotten to now when it comes to this mindset as it’s so much better for my headspace vs. the days sooner after graduating when I was always concerned about how my life looked compared to others on Instagram.
I’ve learned how to let go of dying relationships
I went through what I would a “friendship break-up” in my second year of uni and honestly, it hit me quite hard. Sometimes this kind of thing can hit just as hard as a breakup with a partner. After this, I went through a stage where anyone could get it. I was so ready to dip out of any relationship (e.g. friends, distant fam), that I felt wasn’t serving me.
I’m a lot more balanced these days. Actually, I’m really not quick to cut off people at all. I genuinely do value the friends and relationships I have right now so if somebody disappoints me, I’m a lot more understanding of the fact that they could also be going through their own sh*t. Now, when I do walk away from any sort of relationship, it is something that you can trust I have thought through extensively – I could literally come to the table with my Point, Evidence, and Explanation if I needed to. Now, if I walk away from e.g. a friendship, it’s something I have been able to come to peace with a lot faster than my experiences in university, maybe because it would have taken me a while to get to that “cut off” point anyway.
Not all relationships were meant to last forever – and these days I’m fine with that so long as the rest of my circle is tight.
I’ve learned to have a more open mind
I think I am a lot more open minded now than I used to be, and more open to listen to what others have to say and both learn from others and adjust my lifestyle choices if I’m compelled to as well.
Here’s an example – when I first heard about veganism, I ruled it out as strange ASAP and I concluded that vegans must only eat leaves. Ignorant… right? When I had this view, I had never even for a second looked into what is was and the “why” behind it. Whilst I’m not a vegan now, I very much understand the “why” behind the movement and honestly, I get it. This is just one example of where I’ve allowed my mind to open up to a lifestyle choice that is different to mine – I even pick up some vegan options myself sometimes (particularly as these meals tend to be healthier).
This is really just the tip of the iceberg – there were many aspects of life that I was truly close minded regarding. But since I’ve graduated, I guess you can just say that I’ve matured. I’ve learned for example that there are so many ways to make a living and be successful and it’s not just a choice between making the next Facebook or Uber or going into a white collar job that pays a good compensation.
I’ve also learned a lot about independence of thought – which is definitely something social media doesn’t encourage as if you disagree with the masses people will literally seek your head on a stick. But this is a whole different conversation… one that I’m not yet sure people are ready to have yet.
I’ve learned how to be more confident in myself
I have more confidence in myself than I ever have before. I think this has been down to (i) age, and new experiences, and also (ii) me actively pushing myself to grow in this area.
Having confidence in myself has also been the key to the 3 other lessons I’ve laid out above… I need to have confidence in myself in #1 to feel content with not caring about other people’s opinions of me, in #2 to not fear how my life will develop without person X in it and in #3 to see things differently to how I might have been taught.
It really all comes full circle in the end.
I’m looking forward to what this next stage of my life brings in terms of personal growth! I’m sure one day I’ll blink and be knocking on the doors of 30 which I hear are the best years of your life (that said, I’m certainly not rushing to get there).
Have a good week!
PS – I’ve had the pleasure of speaking on a few panels during this WFH season – have a nose around at what I’ve been up to here.