30 June 2016

Things I wish I could tell my 15 year old self

As you know, I turned 25 this month - hooray! 

Since that’s a grand old quarter of a century, it got me feeling some feels: partly nostalgia, some introspection, and just a dash of life assessment. 

I thought a little bit about the things I’d like to tell my fifteen year old self - anything that might have made the last decade a little easier. And as chance’d have it, I have a sister who is fifteen. Will she listen to my sage wisdom, or simply laugh at the idea I’ve actually acquired any wisdom? Let’s find out.

I’d tell myself I survived

Oh my goodness - if only I could tell my hypochondriacal teenage self that I made it to 25 in one piece. It would have relieved so many moments of panic, doubt, fear… 

In retrospect, I guess you have to live every day as though you’ve been told you’re going to survive. How else do you manage to live life to it's very fullest?

I’d tell myself to stay true to everything I loved

I remember when I was young, I wanted to write books. Or illustrate books. Or maybe be on TV. I wasn’t sure. I just knew I simply had to do something creative. But when I hit my mid-teens I stopped writing and drawing (I blame all that bloody homework) and started looking at more academic life paths. 

A meltdown in the final year of my psychology degree later, I started writing and drawing again. And the colour, sparkle and fizz returned to what had become a rather grey life. I don’t regret the choices I made though - who knows whether my life would as good as it is now if I’d done something different. I consider myself lucky to be doing what I love - never give up on your passions in life.

P.S. I don’t want to be on TV any more. My YouTube channel and Facebook interviews will suffice.

I’d tell myself to start being the person I wanted to be

I went through all the phases as a teen. There was cutesy and pink - but it didn't match my sarcastic streak. For a very short while, I was a Sk8r kid, but I only ever sat on my board- I wasn't motivated or reckless enough to actually learn. Like most teens, I had a dark and emo period - my fringe never had enough layers and my eyeliner wasn't thick enough to be cool, though. You get the idea. 

Although my sunglasses and beret phase, aged 17, (see below) is definitely a look I'd still bust out. 

But everyone changes as they get older - it's natural - and it's never too late to start being who you want to be, whatever that is. I’d love to tell myself that if you follow your passions, it’ll all work out in the end. 

This isn't just a hobby-based thing, like 'if you like art, do art', it's your personality too: if you wish you were nicer, be nicer; if you want to be braver, start standing up for yourself; if you wish you had more things to talk about, read a book. 

I’d tell myself to think “will this embarrass me in a few years?” before I put something on the internet

Honestly? I think I could do still do with a reminder of this. Thanks to the invention of Facebook Memories, I’m reminded of my statuses circa 2010, which either don't make any sense because they're full of incomprehensible in-jokes (that mean nothing to me now), or they're grumpy whinges that simply say: ‘ugh, stats coursework!’.

I’m terribly glad my social media platform of choice when I was 15, Bebo, is now caput. 

I’d tell myself to stop worrying


 I’d tell myself to let go of unfriendly friends

We’ve all had friends that are mean, drain us of energy or make us feel bad. Big ole' nope to that. Life’s too short to be unhappy. Especially when it’s from your own friends. 

As you get older, you'll meet people you love dearly - who make you feel brighter, inspired, braver and happy. Those are the people to hold on to. 

I’d tell myself to grab every opportunity

If there's absolutely anything that makes you feel a spark of excitement, just go for it. That's how you discover your passions in life. 

And the only way to grasp opportunities is to get out there. Opportunity doesn't often knock while you're sitting in bed on your laptop.  

So, 15-year-old Nikki - get out there, meet people, find excitement and do stuff. Stop wasting time on MSN. 

*25-year-old Nikki guiltily closes Facebook tab*


26 June 2016

25 at 25

Two weeks before I turned 25, I read about the 25 by 25 list: 25 goals to accomplish by your 25th birthday.

Imagine my heartbreak when I realised I had no time to write - let alone fulfil - such a list. I felt totally left out. There's all these 24 year olds getting tattoos, saving for mortgage deposits, travelling. What was I doing? Practicing my cartwheels and eating a Magnum*. 

So I've made a new thing: 25 at 25. It's just as catchy and gives me another 365 days to tick off my goals.

Not that you should need arbitrary deadlines to live your dreams.  

I mean, I kind of do. I really like fun lists. 

My 25 at 25 list

1. Pass my driving test

I have a car and I can't drive. Boo! I've been taking lessons for *ahem* a few months now, so I need to start thinking about booking my theory and passing my test. But first I've got lots of practising to do - and maybe some studying...

2. Visit New York City

It's been my dream to go to New York since I was about 5 years old - the shiny skyscrapers, the yellow taxis, the twinkly lights, the brownstone apartments, the vast department stories... the bagels, the pretzels, the burgers and the pizza - oh, the pizza.

It might be 20 years later, but I'm finally arranging my trip! Fingers crossed for this autumn - next spring at the latest! If anyone has any recommendations for places to visit/eat/shop, please let me know in the comments!

3. Complete Duolingo French

Because 'learn French' is a bit subjective: how do you know when you've learnt it? I've got to make these goals SMART, amiright? If you've not heard of it before, Duolingo is an language-learning app - so far I've been armed with handy phrases like: 'I like water and alcohol'. But there's lots of levels to complete so hopefully I'll be tres fluent by the end - wish me luck! (Or, bonne chance?)

4. Blog at least twice a month

It's not a Nikki list unless there's a blogging goal, right? Last year I was been guilty of not finding enough time to write posts and take photographs, so I'll try and be a dash more organised this time. 

5. Hit the halfway point with my savings

After I finished university, I moved back home - and I'm still here. But I'm okay with that, because it's given me the chance to save for a deposit (ugh, too grown up). Saving for a deposit while renting a flat in the UK is a feat that's practically impossible unless you earn a lot of money and live somewhere mighty cheap. This year I'd like to hit a halfway point with my savings. My New York goal might make this a tad trickier, but I'll do it. 

6. Start writing something big

I'm proud to say 24 saw me writing for my job, for a charity festival and for my blog. Can I call myself a writer now? I'm hoping that 25 will see me add to that list with something even bigger. I'm not saying 'write a novel by the time I'm 26', because that would be insane and I'm a busy lady. A start would be nice though.

7. Find a signature scent

I once read (this is how all my stories start) a book about Parisian ladies which advised: 'you should find your signature perfume by 30 and wear it for the next 30 years'. I thought that sounded wonderfully romantic. Sadly, I'm yet to find one I really like. I must have a weird sense of smell or something, because most perfumes just smell a bit artificial and chemical-y to me when I test them (although they always smell great on other people!). If you can think of a scent I might like, please, please, please do let me know in the comments!

8. Eat more foods

In 2015, I challenged myself to eat a new food every week - and I totally did it! I'm going to try to keep sampling unknown delicacies (I draw the line at snails) until I'm no longer classed as 'Picky Nikki'. Because if a taunt rhymes and it's true, you're kind of stuck with it for life. 

9. Get in shape

I'm pretty lazy. I eat quite a lot of junk food. I've never been massively body-confident, which is a shame because I know I'll look back and be like 'damn, I was hot, I should have worn more crop tops' (I hope this is how I talk when I'm old). Whenever I complete a Blogilates workout, or whatever form of exercise I choose, I get a big boost of confidence - so getting into shape is sort of a no-brainer. 

10. Do more art

Drawing and painting makes me feel really relaxed and happy. There's no stress or worry - I'm just in the flow. If I make anything nice, I'll make sure I post it on Twitter or Instagram! 

11. Learn to cook 5 epic dishes

I can't really cook, but it sounds like the sort of life skill I need to acquire at some point. I want to learn to make a few delicious meals I can fall back on. And people will be like: 'have you ever tried Nikki's signature chicken dish? It's amazing'. (Er, again, any delicious recipes - post 'em in the comments section or drop me a message on social media.)

12. Worry less

I think I've been worrisome all my life, but I'm slowly learning how to to deal with problems, stop dwelling on things that bother me and chill myself out (answer: counting slow, deep breaths). 

13. Drink more water

I first saw this tip in a Sabrina the Teenage Witch magazine I acquired in the late 90s. #FunFact. Sadl I didn't listen to Melissa Joan Hart's advice and I don't drink the recommended 2 litres/8 glasses a day, it's surprisingly difficult but I shall keep trying.

14. Eat more fruit and veg

Fruit and vegetables are good for you, blah blah blah. 

15. Plan a trip to Italy

I probably won't be able to go to Italy and New York in the same year - unless I stumble across a winning lottery ticket (a la Charlie and his golden ticket). So I intend to plan my Italy trip instead. Milan, Rome, Florence or Venice? I'm going to eat all the pizza and gelato. 

16. Start buying better quality things

Last year I got myself a Macbook, which, until I bought a car, was the most expensive thing I'd ever purchased. I love it dearly. This year I'm hoping to invest in better quality clothes and products - nice (but not super expensive) things that last for years, instead of cheap-and-cheerful things that fall apart in weeks. Yes New Look, I'm talking about your shoes.

17. See more live entertainment

I couldn't think of a less ponsy way to describe 'gigs, musicals and theatre'. I've done pretty well in 2016 - a jazz orchestra (wait, am I 25 or 65?), a murder mystery play, a Post Modern Jukebox show, Rocky Horror, a festival, Pixie Lott in Breakfast at Tiffany's and, next month, I'm seeing The Last Shadow Puppets. I dont think I have anything else planned, better get booking!

18. Go on a date

18. Eat more pizza

I was going to set a goal of going on a date this year, but ugh. So I'm going to set a goal to eat more pizza because pizza > boys. 

19. Watch IMDBs top 20 films of all time

I've taken this one very seriously and have crossed off at least 2 this month: Goodfellas and The Godfather. I bet Amazon will pop up with 'recommended Mafia movies for you' soon. You can read the top-rated 250 films here - I only have 4 left! 

20. Keep taking pictures

I'm aware I can get a bit snap-happy and irritating (my bad) but when I have my own place I want to fill the walls with framed photos - of the people I love, stuff I've done, places I've been. Can't do that without taking pictures now, can I?

21. Disconnect from technology more often

I am almost certainly a phone addict, nearly always looking at a screen of some sort. Constantly refreshing Facebook and Instagram, twtichily checking my Twitter. My connection to technology is essential for the kinda life I lead, but I definitely need to disconnect more often - it's not healthy. I'm alright at putting my phone away when I go for dinner with people, but I need to be able to read a book or watch a movie without sneakily checking my notifications too. 

22. Organise more fun things with the people I love

What's the point in life if you don't spend it doing fun stuff with loved ones? P.S. If you're a loved one and you're reading this, do you fancy doing something next weekend?

23. Try a new look

This is me trying to intellectualise my decision to go blonder. I've had short hair, long hair, black hair, red hair, brown hair, ombre hair. I want to try going a bit lighter. Just to see... 

24. Try a new hobby

I've never tried stand up paddle boarding. And what if I'm really good at playing the piano!? 

25. Keep making videos

I began my foray into the world of YouTube and vlogging last year and I shall try my hardest to keep going. Even though I'm painfully awkward. And my voice sounds strange. And my face always looks weird. 

* American readers: I recently learnt Magnum is a brand of condom in the US. And a type of gun. In Britain, it's a delicious frozen treat: ice-cream coated in milk chocolate. I just needed to point that out. Have a nice day. 
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