Image Credit: Personal Collection. Photographer: Neftali Karlsson
So I was turning twenty-five and for a while, I was content with plodding along through life. But then, towards the end of 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to the One Young World Summit. The event is all about inspiring young leaders to make a real change in the world, empowering those young people to achieve their personal dreams and using that fire to impact the world. It's all about becoming the captain of your own destiny. At the time of the event, a close family member was suffering from cancer, anxiety was a part of my everyday life and I had begun to view the world in a very different way.
My job revolved around assisting other people realise their own full potential, which is something I do really enjoy, and still enjoy to this day. But it wasn't until the closing ceremony of this particular event that I turned around and thought to myself, "But what have I done for me?"
This was something I continuously pondered for the better half of a year following my time there. When I woke up early to catch the train, squished tightly into a sweaty man's armpit, I thought, "Is this what makes me happy?" When I would hear the unmistakable ping of an email reaching my phone on a Saturday night and knowing I would answer it immediately, again, I thought to myself, "Is this what makes me happy?" Or when I'd be made to feel inadequate, as we all so often go through, I again questioned, "Is this what makes me happy?"
The need to please, for me, always outweighed my own personal hopes and goals. But as I reached the midway point of my twenties, it struck me that I had the power to also chase my personal dreams. Almost a year after I sat in that audience and made a promise to myself that now was the time to act, did I understand the little things that needed to change.
At a quarter of a century old, I wanted to share with my fellow twenty-somethings some advice that has prepared me for any challenge thrown my way and has helped me get that one step closer to realising my full potential...
Don't put too much pressure on yourself. If your job or something in your life is making you unhappy, then try and discover why it's causing you to feel the way you do and seek solutions. If the issue can't be resolved, then it's ok to tell yourself you tried and explore something that will make you happy. Don't EVER beat yourself down to the point of settling.
Remind yourself, everyday, of your own self worth. This seems like such a silly point but you'd be surprised how many people forget to tell themselves that they're amazing. Whether you do this by reading inspirational Instagram quotes (guilty), writing yourself little notes to remind you that you're pretty darn cool, or just telling yourself you kicked ass in your last assignment, then own it! Life's too short to focus on the negatives.
If you have a dream, then don't be afraid to chase it. I've goals of becoming a published author, so I've spent all my enthusiasm and energy, finally getting that manuscript together (shout out to any literary agents out there interested in fantasy!). If you'd like to work in a specific field, then research what qualifications may help or who the top influencers in that sector are and reach out to them. You'd be surprised how often people like to help others. Without a certain PR guru taking a chance on me, I wouldn't have gotten where I am today.
Surround yourself with positive people. Go to events such as One Young World and be a part of a community. I've gone through life dealing with bullies, negative Nigels and even friends who've looked down on me. If they're detrimental to your state of mind then it's ok to move on. Having a positive network around you will only serve to bring out the best in you. I know I can count on each and every one of the special people in my life to always have my back. Whether it's the boyfriend who continues to believe in me, the friend who gave me the courage to write or the friend who told me I would never be replaced - each one strengthened my faith in myself.
Most importantly, you are not alone in this. In a world where mortgages seem unobtainable for many, friendships and relationships have to contend with a digital takeover, and even the idea that we're a lost generation - a phrase that gets banded around so often, it's something we've come to identify with - it's easy to forget that others are also fighting their own personal battles. Never be afraid to ask for help but also, never be too preoccupied to forget to offer others a helping hand. Whether it's a smile to a stranger on your gloomy commute, a text to remind someone they're awesome or even telling the truth when someone asks you if you're ok (a wise man once told me this one), you don't have to go through life fighting a lonely battle!