A letter to my 21 year old self

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With every passing year, my dear Mum is extremely prone to beautiful, profound and heartfelt messages about how extraordinary life is while also gently reminding me that it moves incredibly fast… blink, and you might just miss it.

I have to admit, I didn’t always believe her  when I was a fresh-faced 21-year-old, I always assumed she was being sentimental. In fact, I was almost hoping she was right. I couldn’t wait to get a full-time job to support my endless supply of cosmos and wardrobe second to none (Carrie Bradshaw may or may not have influenced this particular vision)

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I wanted out of university, studying was a chore and I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be just yet. I wanted to live alone, in a city flat filled with music, somewhere I could write and pour myself a drink at 9am just because I could. I wanted to go travelling on my own and be fully independent. I wanted to feel the warm sand wedged between my toes and fresh sea salt in my hair. I wanted everything yesterday and tomorrow couldn’t come quick enough, especially when it was a Thursday night and a Bacardi breezer was cheaper than a pack of chewing gum at the local night club ‘Nightspot’ 

*Blink*

One decade later, lying in my lap in the form of a red velvet cupcake jammed with glitter candles, is the concrete, unfathomable truth. Thirty one. How did I even get here?

As I blow my glistening birthday candles out in one, swift breath, I try to recall my last decade of memories, wishing I could rewind, press play and pause at the moments I wish I could live in forever. Some years a bundle of blur, yet some moments completely vivid.

The nights out, the nights in, the hysterical highs and the rock bottom lows. The moments you are so happy you think your heart might burst then the days you think your heart might break. Moments that seemed insignificant at the time, but even now, you can still feel the hot sun beating against your face, smell the sweet coconut oil dancing through the air and taste the watermelon Daquiri on your super sunburnt lips.


All those small moments that bring you to exactly where you are right this second. Where you were always meant to be.

Just to clarify, I wouldn’t change a single thing about my 20’s.

Partying till dawn, awful matching bowl hair cuts with my best friend, fancy dress theme for any occasion, rocking an over plucked brow while also sporting a boob tube and flat pumps to go to the local gym (Yes, this is fact – what was I THINKING?) 

Life was easy, old enough to know better but young enough to not care. Life was contemplating new shoes for the next gig line up or working out how I managed to come home from that night out with more money than I went out. 

I recently read an interesting article by super model Lily Cole who wrote her younger self a letter before she was scouted. The letter was filled with pointers, words of wisdom, tough love and self-love.

After discussing this subject at great length with my friends over a bottle of gin at 3am, we laughed and nodded approvingly at the answers provided. All completley different and unsuspecting. What advice or words would you give your 21-year-old self? The answers were deep, dignified and down right hilarious. The answers we didn’t have at the time and maybe didn’t need to know.

So, I thought I would share mine with you.

This is a letter to my 21-year-old self from my 31-year-old self.

I’m watching festival crowds scramble from the rain over a pipping hot Starbucks (yes, some things NEVER change) but I do come bearing some mind-blowing news for you.

You ready?

You’re not married. You’re not a millionaire. You don’t have kids or a puppy and you don’t own a car or a Vespa for that matter. You don’t have a job in publishing, photography or at a travel magazine.

You do have the best family and friends, you do have incredible, unconditional love, you do have a cosy flat to call home and you have a job you really like for the first time, um, ever.

Now, you won’t want to change a single thing. Every choice, every path, every turn, every bump along the way has made you, well, you.

But, I want to give you this letter. Little things I want you to know, little reassurances that everything works itself out in the end. I know right now, you might not believe me and you can be incredibly self-righteous but try to listen, ok?

Ahemmmm…

1. Right now, you’re out celebrating your 21st worrying about how patchy the tan on your legs look, how many freckles you have and how you’re having a bad fringe day. STOP. You are beautiful and looks are only skin deep. Get out the bog and go dance to your favourite Arctic Monkeys song, now!

2. Learn to love YOU… know your worth, treat yourself with the respect and love you deserve. #selflove

3. It’s totally OK to put yourself first. You have to learn to say no. It sounds tough, right? You will never please everyone, it will take you years to learn this but it’s a fact.

4. Enjoy your own company, you’ll grow to love it and need it. 

5. Please, do NOT use that home hair die… that golden brown WILL, I repeat will, turn your hair full on black. Ekkkkkk. 

6. You’ll get to see the world and travel… it’s everything you imagined and more. You will learn so much about you. Write down every memory – you’ll want to remember everything!

7. Mum is (usually) always right! Try to listen – she knows what she’s talking about and has your best interests at heart.

8. As each birthday passes, you’ll realise how small you are in this huge, incredible and magically mysterious world. Make it count.

9. It’s never too early to start investing in some good skincare or actually washing your face properly after a night out! Look after your skin and your skin will look after you.

10. Live in the present. Stop worrying about yesterday, you can’t change it. Stop worrying about tomorrow, it’s not happened yet.

11. Soooooo… don’t put that veet for legs on your face, ok? OK? #burnmarks #redmoustache #notpretty #whytho

12. Be kind to everyone, you never know what kind of battles they are fighting.

13. Wear your brace retainer… for the love of god!

14. Don’t be afraid to speak out when you have too, even if your voice is trembling.

15. You’re sometimes a little weird. You’re sometimes a little different. Don’t ever change YOU or try to be someone else.

16. It’s totally ok to make mistakes.

17. You’ll learn so much about the world, people, cultures, politics… always stay interested and help those you can. 

18. Work hard. Keep your head down.

19. Breathe when it all gets too much. It’s OK to not be OK sometimes.

20. Keep hugging, loving and smiling.

21. Boys can be assholes, stay strong and stubborn. Enjoy being single and one day, someone will sweep you off your feet (or get you really drunk, salsa dance you into a frenzy and look at you like no-one else ever has)

Oh, and please lay off that tequila – you may or may not have alcohol poisoning for the next two days.

To the next ten….

Love always,

Ash ❤️ 

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Something good in every day

A few months ago, while glancing through the beautiful, pastel co-ordinated furniture and to die for martini glasses inside Oliver Bonas, I happened to come across a small, bright, eye-catching book while being momentarily distracted from ‘100 gins to try before you die…’ (Wow, I have some damage to do!)

It’s completely normal for me to wonder aimlessly around Edinburgh on my lunch break, just to stare longingly at the new season French Connection sequin dresses or after pay day, go to Anthropologie and treat myself to that totally overpriced but essential bowl that would look GREAT to pop some, eh, olives in.

I stood deep in thought, staring indecisively at the potential purchase in my hand, while clutching onto my champions lunch of a sausage roll and tomato soup combo, obviously. I had a quick flick through the crisp, white pages, wondering if it was a suitable gift for, well, me.

One Sentence a Day‘ instantly appealed to me for a few reasons.


Valid reason number 1:

I have the memory of a goldfish, don’t you wish you were able to remember everything great that ever happened to you? I once completely, mm, disremembered my Dad’s birthday. Oh god, when I see it in black in white that is pretty bad. Well, my Mum and brothers did too so least I ‘m not alone…

Valid reason number 2:

I love diaries. No, I LOVE diaries. Not just my own, but reading peoples thoughts and memories, seeing people’s faces when they remember something from the past they had possibly once forgotten about. Keeping a short one liner of daily occurrences meant I’d be more inclined to write in it too.

Valid reason number 3:

It was £10. I only had £13.78 left in my bank before pay day. I can still afford my gingerbread latte on route to work tomorrow. Oh, and they do such cute gift-wrap, right?

As I peered down at my watch, I realised lunchtime was almost up. I’m probably the most indecisive person on the planet when it comes to a potential purchase, so as you can imagine, I had an intense internal conflict over spending my last £10 on a diary! I proceeded to do that thing. You know, the justifying it to yourself ‘thing.’

‘You deserve this, Ash. Go on, treat yourself. It’ll come in handy… if not you can totally use the paper if you decide to take up the complex arts of origami.’

So, off I walked, out of Oliver Bonas with my new  journal and my head held high! I was buzzing from the rush of my purchase! I was swiftly forced to drop my head down towards the tomato soup massacre I had frustratingly just created at the shops door step and all over some poor girls Nikes. UGH. I’ll remember my first entry at least.

After my face gradually returned to the same colour as my body and not blending in with said tomato soup, I lovingly looked through my new journal.

The concept, is to get you to write down something small each day that is most meaningful to you. A lyric, a drawing, a compliment you gave or received, a moment that made you feel happy or grateful. The reasoning being, is that you focus and pin point one good thing that happened to you that day, every day for 365 days. Then, when the book is finished, you read over what made you happy and feel great and continue to do them – also providing those small, amazing memories we might have otherwise lost over the years (or seconds, shout out to my fellow goldfish readers!)

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They say its the small moments that you remember, not the year, not the week, not the day, but small moments. Just a few happy seconds can stay engrained in your memory forever, which I think, is darn beautiful.

It got me thinking about my ‘stand out’ moments throughout my life. I could essentially be here all day boring you to death with every descriptive detail, but I won’t… I’ll just limit it to a few that may provide some light entertainment.

The time I pretended I could snowboard.

I once upon a time, went snowboarding for the first time in Glasgow Escape. I proceeded to enter slope, with no prior lessons. When up on the slope, I took a deep breath and launched myself off, hoping the people in the restaurant were NOT watching. I fall over, naturally. I land awkwardly and start to cry. *moment I will remember forever* Cool staff snowboarding man ‘Have you ever been snowboarding before?’ Me ‘Err, Of COURSE…!’ Cool staff snowboarding man ‘Cool, just with that fall. Where?’ Me ‘Spain.’


The time the train loo door opened.

On my commute home, roughly 3 years ago, and a bottle of Friday fizz down, I was bursting on the loo after sprinting like Usain to platform 9. No one likes to use a public toilet never mind when it’s going at 80mph! But, desperate times call for desperate measures and all that jazz. I took one big, deep last breath as I entered. You can DO this. I shoved my bag on the hook and quickly started to hover (as I do…) *moment I will remember forever* The darn door swiftly opens as I hadn’t pressed the bloody lock to a crowd of approximately 3 faces looking in, as baffled and embarrassed as I was. I scream. I scramble to shut the door. I DIE inside. That’s perhaps a memory I wish I could forget.

The time I watched sunset on Cable beach, Western Australia.

I was travelling the West coast of Australia in 2011. I remember vividly, sitting down on a rock, with my 5 seeds cider clasped tightly in hand (it was my favourite!) and witnessing the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my entire life. The sky was ablaze with vivid tones of pink, orange and shades of red. There was next to no one there, I had my feet buried deep in the sand and nothing but a rug sack on my back. After a few standard cartwheels, I remember having a moment of complete and utter happiness. I had never felt so free, so alive… so skint!

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I’ve since made a solid dent in my diary with my one-liner entries. Picking the most meaningful moment or thing that happened to me that day could range from coming home to a hug and the person I love after a really tough day to finally mastering the perfect poached egg (it takes a lot of patience and love!) It could be smiling to a stranger in a coffee shop or being alone with nothing but a good book, spoon and a jar of Nutella.

Each day is different. Some days, if something doesn’t quite go my way, instead of thinking it’s the end of the world and drowning in my own self-pity… I love sitting at the end of the night choosing to pick a memory that was meaningful and happy, even if it was for a split second. Every day might not be good, but there is something good in every day, right? I guess it’s all about perspective. Since writing in my journal, every so often, you are instructed to look back on your entries, I always do with a smile on my face (especially at the day I almost nailed ‘Gangsters paradise’ for the first time #karaokegoals)

Choose to live in the small moments, because those are the ones we look back on, not the weeks or days. Choose to create the moments, the ones you won’t realise you were in until time passes. If you are lucky enough, you’ll make thousands of them in your life time. The big ones, the small ones, the life changing ones… the one’s that you didn’t realise were important until you do.

So, I encourage you to write. Write about all the good, hopefully not too much of the bad, the indifferent, the great. The memories, the moments, the ones you’ll never forget.

Keep them close to your heart… and write them down, even if it is just one sentence a day.

xxxx