LIFESTYLE

Life Lessons: Letting Go Of FOMO - Wisdom Gained By My Mid-Twenties

23/07/2014 10:03 BST | Updated 23/07/2014 10:59 BST

We're strong believers here at HuffPost UK that everyone - no matter what their age - can tap into their inner wisdom to share valuable lessons with those around them.

That's why we've embarked on a three-part series, where each member of the Lifestyle team shares what they've learnt in life (so far). After all, we're all still under 35.

When I started writing this piece I thought that 26 wasn't a particularly remarkable age: already I've been working for a few years, living away from home for longer, have established friendships and fallen in and out of love a few times.

But increasingly I'm finding this period of my life one of immense transition. One where I turn my back on my binge-drinking, carefree early twenties and step oh-so carefully towards my late twenties where more responsibility and a need for greater independence awaits - what joy!

So here are my life lessons (so far)...

woman holding coffee

Friends

Once upon a time I had major FOMO. I'd spread myself thinly among friends, flit from group to group, and break my back trying to cram as much as possible into my evenings and weekends.

After a while, the bags under my eyes and irrepressible yawns on a Monday morning took their toll and I decided that I needed a change.

Now, I opt for quality over quantity. I no longer fill my time nurturing tenuous friendships, but have vowed to only bother with the people that I truly value - and friendships that are going to go the distance.

This has also got me thinking about what constitutes a good friend. And, in truth, it takes all sorts.

I've realised that we have friends for different reasons - some are great at giving advice, others are better suited to fun nights out. I used to want each friend to be everything but once I came to accept that this wasn't going to happen, my friendships became richer and less stressful.

Family

Like many teenagers, I used to be embarrassed by my parents.

I'd lie flat out on the backseat of my dad's clapped-out old car and make him drop me off down the road from school so that no one would see me. How awful. I was 14, I should have known better.

Now, thankfully, I'm past that. (And it has nothing to do with the fact that he's sold the car.)

As I've got older, I've come to appreciate my parents in a new light. They are so accommodating and supportive, I could quit my job to become a belly dancer and they'd still pat me on the back.

Their love is unconditional. And it's only as an adult that I'm starting to appreciate what a great foundation that has given me and my brother.

Work

At 26, I'm single with no kids or anything scary like a mortgage, so my biggest responsibility is my career. And boy does it take up a lot of brain space.

I've always been ambitious. But once I got over the excitement of landing my first job, I suddenly found myself surrounded by talented people with pretty swish LinkedIn profiles, and that ambition quickly became crippling.

But now, instead of trying to run before I can walk or worry that I'm not on track, I'm channelling that energy. I've set myself clear and manageable goals (short term and long term).

At the moment I'm fortunate to have a supportive and proactive manager, who is committed to my development. But that hasn't always, and won't always, be the case. So I've vowed to always take ownership for my own progression - challenging myself, looking ahead at the next steps (but not too far), and being realistic about my abilities.

Love

I'm at an age where friends around me are starting to get engaged and move in together, the pressure for single people to find someone is egged on by nosey friends: "Are you seeing anyone?", "What happened to that guy you liked, things were going so well?"

This, understandably, makes some of my friends hot under the collar - culminating often in a Tinder binge or picking holes in other couples' relationships.

But do you know what? There is nothing wrong with being single. And single people should stop counting off the number of days since they last had a shag and embrace it.

Having recently become single again, I'm quite excited at the prospect. Not because I want to snog strangers, but because I have time for myself - to read, go to the gym, sleep, catch up with friends (only the good ones, of course, see above) - all of the things that became a squeeze when I had to find time to fit in my relationship.

And that's not to mention all that extra space you get in a double bed.

Self

Arianna Huffington talks about 'the obnoxious roomate living in our heads', at times it feels like I've got an entire hoard of them - highlighting my failures, questioning my choices and trivialising my achievements.

There have been times when these voices have been overwhelming. Ending in days spent under a duvet or in tears, but I'm slowly learning to hush these voices and take control of my self-doubt. Of course, there are times when I slip back into old habits.

While it's important to be aware of strengths and flaws. There is no point dwelling on them, either to congratulate or berate yourself.

Instead I try to see myself as a work-in-progress.

SEE ALSO: Life Lessons: My Inner Critic, Love And Friendship - The Wisdom I've Gained By My Early Twenties