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


Wisdom is something we usually associate with the Dalai Lama and elderly relatives, but here at HuffPost UK Lifestyle, we're big believers that anyone at any age can have an experience to share that we can all learn from.

Life is a sequence of big life changes, and I've just passed a significant milestone.

I'm 22, I graduated last summer, I've just got my first real job and I recently moved out of my parents' house and in with my boyfriend - don't worry, I'm under no illusion that I already know it all.

But to kick off our series on the wisdom you gain at different stages of life, here's the things I've learned since ditching student life and becoming an actual adult.


I have massive issues saying 'no' and I hate nothing more than feeling like I've let someone down - unfortunately over the years there have been people who've recognised this personality trait in me and totally pissed all over it.

Back in sixth form, if someone asked me for a favour, I did it - whether that meant helping with an essay, lending a few quid here and there or providing a shoulder to cry on.

But at uni, I started to realise my habit of giving had got out of hand - I was empty, both literally (I had no money) and figuratively (I was exhausted).

I have come to understand that being friends with people who take and never give back, be that financially or emotionally, is not a good idea.

I've slowly started to phase out the Selfish Sallys and now have a much smaller, but much better, group of friends.

Of course sometimes a friend will have a problem, and when they do I'm the first on the scene to try and help. But now, I'm trying to only put myself out for people who'd do the same for me.


Since starting work, I have a whole new respect for my mum. For a good few years before she re-married, she was a single mother working full-time with two kids under 11 years old.

I've always had a great relationship with my mum, but now I have a better understanding of how tiring full-time work with kids must have been. My mum's freaking awesome.

Losing my Grandad to Parkinson's disease last year was the hardest thing I've ever had to cope with, but it has made me value time with my family more.

We're not a family prone to saying 'I love you', but I now I make the time to call my parents, sister and nan more and tell them how much I care.

If you love your family, stop being a wimp about it and just tell them!


As mentioned, my role here as HuffPost UK Lifestyle Editorial Assistant is my first real job. Before that I was an intern. Before that I was a student.

A lot of friends have said "you're so lucky a job came up while you were interning at HuffPost".

Yes, to some extent I was lucky, but I've learned that in the workplace, more often than not, you make your own luck.

Being in the right place at the right time helps - but working your socks off to get yourself to that place (and doing your best to impress when you're there) is the most important thing.

Whilst interning at another publication, I wrote an article that did extremely well on the site. When one of the editors congratulated me, I mumbled a load of baloney about how I'd had a lot of help.

In reality, I'd had barely any help - I was just trying to be modest.

One of the other interns said to me "you should never down-play your achievements like that. A man would never do that!"

She was half joking, but her advice has stayed with me. If you do something well at work, sometimes you do have to blow your own trumpet - nobody else is going to blow it for you!


Getting dumped sucks, especially when it's the first time you've been dumped and you aren't prepared for how utterly shit it feels.

When I got given the old heave-ho in my first year of uni, I turned into a massive chick-flick cliché - I ate crap, I got drunk and I made some very questionable life choices in the weeks that ensued.

Then... I was fine.

Being forced to pick myself and cope by myself was actually really useful - it taught me that I'm totally capable of picking myself up and coping by myself.

Upon reflection, I realised I didn't love the relationship I'd been in - I just loved the idea of being in a relationship.

I met my current boyfriend a year later, when I really wasn't looking for a relationship - proving there's some truth in the old saying that sometimes, you find love when you're not looking for it.

We laugh all the time. We're just as happy watching a film on the sofa as we are eating out at a fancy restaurant.


At the age of 22, I'm now the most confident I have ever been. I look back on the things I've achieved in the last few years - A levels, degree, getting my dream job - and I think, 'you know what Rachel, you must be doing something right'.

But that doesn't mean that the days of feeling bombarded by self-doubt are completely over.

My worst habit is comparing myself to other people, especially other women.

If I'm in a room full of stylish women, I'll immediately feel self-conscious. If someone my age has achieved something incredible, I'm likely to worry that I'm not progressing quickly enough.

But as I've aged, I've become more aware of the fact that I'm my own worst critic and I know that constantly comparing myself to other women isn't healthy.

Acknowledging your hang-ups and the reasons for your self-doubt is half the battle.

There are still days when my inferiority complex pops up, but now that I'm aware of it, it's easier to tell it to bugger off.

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