Look it's your gal Millie, consistently blogging. Did you die of shock? Did you self combust? Did you spontaneously just get the urge to guzzle down a whole order of Five Guys? Because guys I know I did.
Tomorrow is September 1st, which means it's my birthday! Now let's be real, I always kind of dread my birthday. It feels monotonous, it feels gross and self indulgent, and I mean really, I usually look around and think, gosh what have I even achieved this year? You feel me?
But this year feels different somehow. I'm turning 26, entering the second half of my twenties, I feel accomplished. I'm in a career that I'm enjoying more and more with each day, I've started to create content that I feel truly proud of, I've made a fresh start to life in London and I've made massive strides in putting myself back together, and battling my mental health. I look around this year, and I think of every little way in which my life has changed over the past year, and I'm so bloody proud of myself. And so I should be.
So who'd a thunk it, but my list posts always seem to do the best here. I GUESS YOU GUYS LIKE A LIST, me too babes, me too. So here's little old list of 26 Things I've Learnt in 26 Years while navigating this whole life thing.
1. Age ain't nothing but a number.
And I mean it really isn't. There is no set age that you have to achieve all of your goals by, and that's excellent. I sometimes look around at the blogosphere / youtube world and well I feel a bit shit. There are so many incredible ladies achieving incredible things. They put out five star content, they have incredible style, they have the best side hustles, and they're still at university! But you know what, I'm in my own lane, on my own journey, and that's okay.
2. University isn't everything.
I beat myself up about my university journey a lot. But I mean the fact remains, it shaped me into the person I am today, it's made me the writer I am today. Success isn't always going to be a masters degree in English Literature to shape you into a writer, sometimes it might just be living and experiencing life, taking courses in your own time and actively writing to become the best writer you can be.
3. FACT: An ASOS shop with premier delivery will improve any mood.
So there is obviously more to life than an ASOS order, but I mean credit where credit is due and there is nothing that will improve my mood faster than throwing on a sassy pair of shoes, ordering myself a new dress and knowing that I look fierce. Is it a bad sign that the man I can depend on most os my DPD delivery man? Maybe?
4. There is pretty much nothing on earth that a Pumpkin Spice Latte can't fix.
I mean this one is basic as fuck, but tbh if you've spent more than 30 seconds on this website and haven't realised that I'm as basic as they come then I really don't know what can be done for you. One of the reasons my birthday is pretty much so wonderfully placed (thanks mama) is that it's the same release date as the ultimate fave of basic ass bitches like me, PSLs.
5. Life will not turn out the way you thought it would.
And y'know what? That's totally okay. Sure I'm not where I thought I would be a 26, I'm not in the country I thought I would be in, I'm not in the career I thought I would be in, but I'm happy, I look around and I love the way that my life has turned out and I mean, hey that's okay.
6. That old, you've got to have a husband, baby and your whole life sorted out by 30 mantra? It's bullshit.
Basically THIS. I don't know where my life will take me by the time I turn 30, but the more I think about the ridiculous timelines we set for ourselves, the more it dawns on me how silly they are. The fact is that I might not be married, a home owner and expecting a kid, and that's alright.
7. The older you get, the more coffee will make you shake.
This one kinda broke my heart a little tbh. I was the girl who sipped on lattes feeling like the coolest girl in year 9 at the tender age of 14, well actually I kind of hated the taste, but it was the fact that the Caffe Nero cup in my hand made me look so damn cool that made me wistfully savour each sip. During uni I was called caffeine girl because I was consistently late to lectures just so I could grab my Starbucks prior to them. In true Lorelai Gilmore fashion I would drown 5, 6, 7 cups a day without question and I loved it. But now I find that if I go past 3 I get the shakes, I'm irritable, grouchy, and just not a V fun Millie to be around. I guess this is getting older folks.
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8. Boys will get scared and run, good friends will put up with your shit and stay forever.
Well isn't that true. When I look back at every time my heart was broken, I think of the pain, the anguish, the hurt and of course I get a little sad. But then I think of the strong women who stood beside me, who built me back up when I needed it, and I get a little tinge of happiness, because at the end of the day. They are what I have, and I'm so grateful to have them in my life.
9. Losing a parent, no matter how close you were, will give you a new form of perspective you didn't think imaginable.
That piece honestly went a little more viral than I was expecting it to. I wrote it in a fit of emotion, knowing I'd been leaving this little space alone for a little too long, and well, writing has always been a part of my grieving process, why should that change now that I have a platform? To have messages of support and love truly overwhelmed me more than I can say.
I had a very tortured and difficult relationship with my father, it wasn't sunshine and roses. It was broken promises, missed birthdays, drunken insults, it was being told I was a piece of shit who would never achieve anything repeatedly and repeatedly.
I've spent years being angry, being hurt, feeling rage towards him, and ultimately, I'm okay with that. The fact is he's gone, he's not coming back. He had one shot at life, just like the rest of us, and although I may not understand the decisions he made, I have to respect them.
I know that processing his death has given me incredible perspective on life, on what I want to achieve, it's given me more drive and motivation than I can muster into words. So for that, I will thank him.
10. Hustle hard and it will pay off.
Motivation is a funny thing. It seems to come in great big spouts for me, and in those spouts, I am unstoppable. I will write a whole manuscript in a matter of days, I will schedule my tweets and content until the end of the year, I will brainstorm ALL my upcoming shoots. The point being, a side hustle will always be your side hustle if you don't set the time aside to make it be something more. I've always been very open about the fact that I 100% intend to take my blog/writing full time at some point, it's just about figuring out when that time should be.
11. Re- read the books that have stayed with you, they'll teach you something new every time.
I set myself a challenge at the beginning of the year, to read a new book a week, so at the end of the year I would have 52 new stories under my belt. Stories to stay with me, stories to get inspiration from, stories to remember. The more I delved into these new stories, the more I found myself craving old ones. The ones I'd read as a teen that had stayed with me, the ones I thought of as I tried to brainstorm ideas for my own novel, and that's okay. I've always been very forthcoming in the power of re-reading books that have stayed with you. My top example is Jane Eyre which I recently read for the 10th time, I've read it once every summer since turning 16 and it's taught me something new about life each time. I've realised recently since re-reading Donna Tartt's The Secret History and Catherine Lacey's Nobody is Ever Missing, that it's not exclusive. Each time you re-read a powerful book, it will teach you something new.
12. Falling in love is worth it.
For such a long time, I was scared to fall in love. I was scared of the heartbreak and anguish it could lead to. I was scared of the vulnerability it would undoubtedly make me experience. I was scared of feeling naked in front of another, having them see not only the bubbly, smiley, sexy, fun version of myself that I put out there, but all of me. I didn't want them to see the cracks, the gaping holes that had been left from previous traumas, the parts of myself I feel so scared of, and the parts I'm scared to share.
I've fallen in love quickly, the sort of love that all consumes you, so you can't breathe, you can't think a single thought that doesn't involve them. I've fallen in love slowly, the sort of love where something happens to make you see someone in a new light and you suddenly see something you never have before. As much as each of these relationships has either faded out slowly or the spark has been put out suddenly, I don't regret them. Falling in love is a beautiful, haunting thing, it's something so human and flawed, but we still find beauty in it.
Is it worth the pain, the hurt, the vulnerability? Absolutely.
13. Don't let heartbreak define you, let it build you into a bigger and better woman, every damn time.
There are times during breakups where I definitely haven't felt strong. I've felt exposed, broken, like a shell of a woman simply willing myself to be whole again. But as I sit here, after what has been a particularly trying year, I feel proud, I feel happy, and that means that as hard as getting over abuse has been. It doesn't have to define you, nor does any relationship.
14. Indulge in the real friends. The ones who aren't fake, who are bloody fabulous and stand behind you all the damn way.
This year, I've spent an awful lot of time on focusing on my career, my content, sharing it, tweeting it, networking, really doing the whole blogger 360 motion. That involves networking with other influencers and bloggers and mixing with a whole array of people. You'll meet people who suspiciously gain 4k instagram followers in one day, you'll meet people who are lovely to your face and catty behind your back, you'll meet people who want to start Twitter drama with every single person, on every single day.
Trust your gut, and know that real people who are genuine do exist in this industry. I was lucky enough to make some incredible friends in this industry this year, ones that I know will stay around to not only be 'blog friends' but actual ones. Champion those ones.
15. When in doubt - add cheese amd bake for 30 mins at 180'C
I mean basic AF, but like this IS a list about things I've learnt during my lifetime, and one thing I have most certainly learnt is that cheese is great.
16. Wing it, eyeliner, life, everything.
Yep it's one of those basic ass instagram sayings making it's way onto my blog, DEAL WITH IT FOLKS. In all honesty, winging it is something that we all have to do at some point, we have to trust that things will be okay, and just go for it.
17. When you feel like a 10 year old playing imposter syndrome, buy homewares.
So real talk. I FEEL THIS ALL THE TIME. Every time I do a big shop at Waitrose, every time I make a roast dinner, every time I order things like paint and wallpaper stripper and scrapers off Amazon. Like lol am I just a 10 year old playing house and someone is going to come and tell me off and bring me home to my toys soon?
But nope, this is life, and I'm a 26 year old woman now I guess. But yes HOMEWARES GUYS. They are great at fooling people into thinking I actually have my shit together, so I basically spend most of my paycheck now at Oliver Bonas, Desenio and Next and it's bloody great.
18. Invest in your passion.
Whatever it is, invest in it and don't feel a pang of guilt. That investment can be time, money, whatever you have and eventually it WILL get you somewhere. I mean it's no secret that this little blog is my passion project, so I invest in good editing software, good designers, good photographers, good kit, everything that I know is going to help me to make the best possible content.
19. It's better to be by yourself than stay in a bad relationship.
It's no secret around these parts that I stayed in a pretty bad relationship out of fear. I didn't want to be alone, I thought it was fine, it was just what relationships were. Flash forward to one year later and here I am. I'm alone, and at my happiest.
20. You need to like yourself before you can love anyone.
YUP GUYS WE'RE HERE WITH ALL OF THE CLICHES.
But no seriously, there was a Laura Jane Williams quote that sort of changed this whole one for me and it's a keeper.
"Nobody can love you until you love yourself.
It's almost embarrassing to write that, hackneyed phrase as it is, and yet it's the truest thing I know. I reckon on some level I was after somebody to prove my own self worth to me. The breakup affected me so deeply, how I thought of myself. I think I was looking for parts of myself in every man I seduced. I revealed my meanest, most unkind version as if to see who would challenge and love me anyway. Some men tried - and I couldn't respect them for it. I didn't trust anyone who wanted to be with me, because what poor judgement did that demonstrate? I could never date a man actually interested in such a broken, half woman. It's because I didn't like myself that I couldn't believe anyone else could.
Nobody can love you until you do."
21. It's important to take time to look after your mental health.
It's only really in the last few years that I've really started to take stock of my mental health and the things that affect it in a positive and negative way.
22. If your content isn't original, you aren't going to succeed.
I've spent a long time finding my place in this social media world. I initially thought I wanted to be a beauty youtuber, I made tutorials, I wrote about makeup and I mean it was fine. But it wasn't ME. I love makeup, we all love makeup, and there are some fantastic beauty bloggers out there who create amazing content, but it just didn't feel authentic. I really only started to make real traction and get good engagement rates once I was making content that actually felt authentic to me, who I am, and what I'm about.
23. Don't wait to Travel
Travelling can be scary, and it's so easy to put it off. But travelling the world was one of the things that truly was the making of me, and I will forever be eternally grateful that I was able to do it by myself. TO know that I tackled Asia, Australia, NZ and The US all by myself with nothing but a backpack is truly empowering.
24. Be true to you.
Know yourself, know your worth, and just do you. Don't say yes to something because you feel you have to. Don't wear an outfit that doesn't feel authentic to you, to truly know yourself is one of the best things we can do in this crazy old thing called life. So embrace that.
25. Writing is Cathartic.
Writing has always been a massive part of who I am. I've kept journals and diaries my entire life, I've noted down and documented pretty much everything in them, every thought, every nook and cranny of my mind, everything I went through. The more I look back through old ones, the more I see them as part of a story, my story, my becoming. Writing is simply as natural to me as breathing, and I'm so, so happy about that.
26. I'm not even close to being done here babe.
It's a work in progress, and there's so much more to come.
HEY IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! GET THIS GAL A STEAK AND SOME PROSECCO.
*Photos by Fordtography.
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