Lessons in My 20’s

Growing up I was always considered a “nice” person. As a child, I had (fortunately) never really experienced what it felt like to be left out, or actively disliked. So when I arrived at University, it was a shock to learn that not everyone was as nice as me. That just because I was kind, did not mean others would be kind back; a lesson I’m sure we all have learned along the way. As an adult, I was even more shocked to learn how often rude and patronizing people somehow ended up as managers. This made me wonder, do nice girls and guys really finish last?

Over the last few years, I have unfortunately heard stories and seen firsthand adults be publicly embarrassed in the workplace, only to be left on the brink of tears. I remember earlier this year on my Monday commute into work, I had a similar instance – albeit not in the office. There I was, smiling and standing patiently at Marylebone Station on a cold Winter’s morning, completely unprepared for what was to happen next. There had been issues with the ticket barriers that day – a nightmare for any London commuter. As a result, this meant pandemonium erupted among the hundreds of people who were rushing to get to work. When it was my turn to go through the gates, the employee checked my ticket only to realize I had the wrong one, and reacted as if I had tried to cheat the whole of Transport for London. She shouted at me as if to make an example out of me, utterly humiliating me in the process in front of a crowd people. I remember my face began to feel hot, my eyes began to well up with tears, and my blood began to boil. I was completely taken aback by her overreaction and this moment of humiliation. I then became increasingly aware of the eyes of onlookers watching this moment of drama unfold, all before it was even 8 AM.

It had in fact been totally her own fault, rather than mine (which I suppose so often is the case in these kind of scenarios) as I had told her as I approached, about the ticket dilemma. However I managed to hold it together, and calmly called her out on her behaviour. I stood up for myself, correcting her on what had actually happened with ticket-gate (excuse the pun) and told her there was absolutely no need to treat me, or anyone else like that. I then proceeded to complain about this to one of her team members. Whether this was taken seriously I do not know- I certainly did not receive an apology. Nonetheless, I was proud of how I handled this stranger’s outburst and that I had kept myself mostly together. In that moment, I empathized with those who may experience such behaviour in the workplace. Thinking about this now, I wonder how this kind of scenario may be playing out in a remote setting. I also wonder if I would have reacted the same way if it was my boss speaking to me in such a rude manner, rather than a complete stranger. How would I act, especially now, where there is an increasing amount of anxiety around job security? I sincerely hope that I would have the courage and resilience to deal with this, or that a kind colleague would step in and show me some support if needed.

2020 has been a tough year on many levels, and whilst I may not have all the answers, I know that being nice does not cost a thing. I remember reading an article on The Everygirl about protecting your heart at work, which emphasized just how important emotional resilience is. Although I still have so much more to learn and I know inevitably there will be more hurdles to overcome, here are some of the lessons I have learned in my 20’s so far…

  1. The company I keep both in an out of work is important
    The people we surround ourselves with have a direct impact on our wellbeing and outlook on life. Take a look at those nearest to you and figure out if they add value to your life and if they build you up as a person.

  2. Other people’s opinions of me do not validate me
    Whenever I catch myself ruminating about silly thoughts like what I said earlier that day, I stop myself. Instead I try to focus my energy on my own goals, rather than wasting energy on needless worry.

  3. Showing my “true” self can be daunting but liberating
    I used to differentiate my identity between my “work” self and “true” self, and now count myself lucky to work somewhere where I feel I can and want to, bring my whole self to work. This also means I feel more authentic in my choices and am able to bounce back easier on days which are challenging.

  4. It’s better to be understood than to be liked
    Not everyone will like me, and that’s fine, despite the people pleasing voice I have in my head!

  5. Not everyone shares the same ideas or outlook as me
    As obvious as this, really taking time to digest and understand this has made a huge difference. This was also summed up really succinctly for me in the Everygirl article,

    Most people see interactions as swift, emotionless transactions ; whilst this is true in many businesses, it doesn’t mean you have to be the same, just recognize that there are others like that”.

  6. How people act and respond to you often comes from them projecting their own feelings from what’s happening in their own life, rather than in response to the actual content of what you have said.

  7. Being smart and kind will always be cool

  8. Always trust and listen to your gut

  9. Feel the love

  10. Nice people certainly do not finish last
    Being nice isn’t a weakness, it is a strength.

I’d love for you to share some of your tips or lessons you have learned with me in the comments below!

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Mindfulness Chocolate Challenge!

Mindfulness is a type of meditation which focuses on the awareness of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment. It is free from interpretation and judgment of your own thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness helps to relax the body and mind, as well helping to reduce stress levels. Today I am sharing with you a guided mindfulness activity. This was one of the very first things I did when I began studying for my Psychology degree, so it’s super beginner friendly if you haven’t tried mindfulness before. All you need for this activity is 5 minutes, 1 chocolate (or a raisin), and a pen and paper (or your phone will do).

The below activity was sourced from Duke Intergative Medicine. My personal choice for this exercise is a small Celebrations sized Malteser chocolate! Ready to begin? Find a comfortable and quiet spot and get your chocolate at the ready…

  • First, unwrap the chocolate, take it out of it’s wrapper(if it has one), and hold it between your index finger and thumb. Focus solely on the chocolate and try to imagine that this is the very first time you have ever seen this food.
  • Take some time to examine it carefully. Really look at it. Give it your full attention.
  • Allow your eyes to wonder across the chocolate, focusing on it’s shape. Are there any different colours? What does it’s surface feel like?
  • Examine it’s texture and note if there is any light shining on it, or if there are any shadows.
  • Begin to turn the chocolate between your finger tips, and continue to focus on it’s texture.
  • Apply a very small amount of pressure to the chocolate – is it soft or is it hard? Feel free to close your eyes if that allows you to really focus on how the chocolate feels between your fingers.
  • Recognize this is as chocolate. What thoughts do you have about this chocolate, if any? Are there any specific memories that come to mind? Do you like or dislike them?
  • Now hold the chocolate under your nose, and take a few natural breaths in. With each inhale, notice how the chocolate smells.
  • Continue to breathe the chocolate in and out, but now turn your attention to the effect this has had on your mouth and your stomach.
  • Slowly bring the chocolate close to your mouth. Notice if you have begun to salivate, as your body and mind prepares itself for eating.
  • Next without chewing, place the chocolate gently into your mouth.
  • Over the next 10 seconds or so, feel the chocolate with your tongue and become aware of the sensations of having it there.
  • Take a moment to become aware of this deliberate pause. How does it feel to take some time before eating this piece of chocolate?
  • When you are ready, prepare to chew. Take one or two bites into it without swallowing, and notice what happens when you do so. Bring your full attention to the chocolate’s taste and texture as you continue chewing. How does the chocolate’s taste and texture change in your mouth?
  • When you feel ready to, swallow the rest of the chocolate, focusing as you do so as it travels down to your stomach.

How does your whole body feel after completing this exercise? Take a few moments to write down any reflections and answers you may have to the following questions:

  1. Was there anything that surprised you during this exercise?
  2. What did you notice about the chocolate in relation to sight, touch, sound, smell, and taste?
  3. Did you have any thoughts or memories that you recalled during this exercise? If so, what were they?
  4. What is one takeaway from this exercise that you will try to apply to your future eating habits?

I hope that you enjoyed this mindfulness eating exercise! Redoing this activity reminded me how I used to take a moment on my commute to practice mindfulness. This helped set me up for the day ahead, as well a block out any possible annoying commuters…! If anyone has any other activities that you find useful, please do share them in the comments with me.

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Opening Up | How I REALLY Feel

I have always loved Autumn and the changing of the leaves. As a child, Autumn always denoted for me that it was time to go back to school. I remember being so excited when I could finally wear my brand new school shoes (although they didn’t stay shiny and new for too long). As an adult that excitement has been replaced with wrapping up in layers, going out to Bonfire Night displays, and lovely trips down to the pub. Sadly this year, these Autumnal rituals look slightly different. During the first lockdown I shared with you a post about how I felt one month into the pandemic here in the U.K, so it only seemed right to give another update as we go through lockdown 2.0.

I am typically a very “glass half full” type of person, but here we are seven months later and things seem the same as they were in many ways back in April.

During the first lockdown, work and exercise remained as my constants; a routine which kept me busy and sane. I also tried to remind myself of the other positives, such as how much more money I was saving and how much more rested I was feeling. Thankfully the U.K. had an abundance of sunshine this Summer too, which also meant lots of time spent outdoors. As time passed, I was eventually able to enjoy socially distanced meet-ups and walks with friends. However, I couldn’t help feeling a bit anxious that things were opening up far too soon, inevitably causing a delayed reaction in the Winter (lo and behold, here we are). Throughout this, I continued to work remotely and although there were days where I missed the ease of asking my colleagues questions without the need for a video call, the working from home life was “working” for me, so to speak. I even managed to go on a late holiday abroad and felt very safe with all the precautions that were taken.

Then after 2 weeks being back from holiday, it hit me. Life wasn’t going back to normal. Even though this time I had a support bubble, life seemed a bit gloomy. Was it just the holiday blues, I wondered? I didn’t think so. I felt demotivated and disconnected from myself. However I still couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. At this point, the clocks had also gone back meaning shorter days and less daylight. I found myself going to bed earlier because I simply could not bear the long, dark hours of the evening ahead. I had also watched everything interesting on Netflix and it seemed that exercise only lifted my mood temporarily. I now realize that this was a very delayed reaction to the realization that we are still living in a worldwide pandemic. I was digesting that we will be living like this for far longer than I initially anticipated.

After accepting this, I am now taking each day as it comes. Although I realise just how ironic this blog post may seem for someone who wants to share some positivity, it is important to be open about the days where you may not be feeling so great too. I know that there may be many more days ahead which may feel a bit dark and challenging, but it’s important to speak out and not brush those feelings aside. There is something very refreshing about someone not answering the question “how are you?” with “fine, how are you?”.

As we move through November, I encourage you to check in with your own family and friends (especially the quiet ones) and of course, most importantly – with yourself. If like me you question whether you have the right to feel like you do, try to remind yourself of the below.

Melissa Parkinson on Instagram: “WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT ... I heard  that we are all in the same boat, but it's not like … in 2020 | Storm  quotes, Boating quotes, Storm

Remember, we got through lockdown once and we can do it again. Look after yourselves!

If you enjoyed this post, you should subscribe to keep up to date with what I’m talking about. Remember there will be more content coming your way every day this month!

Come connect with me on socials:

Facebook | Natalia Talks About

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