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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50 Things I Learned At University

1. Locating your on campus secret take-away after a night out is a must. Mine was known as “The Hatch”!

2. Cooking dinners in batches and freezing leftovers is such a time-saver.

3. Do not skip your turn taking out the bin. There will 100% be maggots if you do.

4. Going back home in the Winter you realise just how warm your actual house was, and you will never complain about the heating at home ever again!

5. If you decide to go back home when you are feeling ill, it will soothe the soul and get you back onto the road of recovery!

6. Pay the delivery charge and order your food shopping online.

7. Find a local Costco or Bookers if you can. You will save your wonga on bulk buys!

8. Student discount shopping nights are fun, but then you realise as a student you’re kind of poor so can’t afford as much as you think.

9. Every night of the week can easily become a “Student” night out.

10. Every year I returned back to university for Fresher’s Week, only to realise I can’t attend any of the events and just spent it going to the local pub instead.

11. You do not need to start finding a house for 2nd or 3rd year until after Christmas. There will always be enough housing!

12. When you do start to look for a house, either pick to be close to campus or close to town. Don’t go really far away just to save money.

13. Do a lucky dip to decide who gets what room.

14. Whoever had the smallest room the year before, gets the biggest room the year after!

15. Put yourself in charge of the utility accounts and bills. It’s a pain to make sure everyone pays, but at least that way you can avoid fines.

16. Make sure you enjoy your new town/ city! Go out to eat, see a show in the local theatre, go to gigs etc.! You are only there for a short period of time.

17. Don’t dip into your overdraft if you don’t have to! It’s a slippery slope.

16. Prepare food to have at home after a night out in advance. Or just get cheesy chips. Cheesy chips are life.

19. Make time to see your school friends at their university.

20. Check in on your home friends even if they go off the radar. Leaving home is hard. Check in.

21. Make the effort to call your family.

22. Missing your 9am lecture isn’t the biggest deal.

23. Make sure you do try throughout your whole degree. Although 40% may only be required to “pass” first year in the U.K., it will make second year a lot easier.

24. Not doing well in a subject? It’s time to grow up, admit it and do the work. Find a buddy to help tutor you, go to the library or stay at home more. Wherever it is that helps you focus the best, make sure you study!

25. You don’t need to buy every text book.

26. If you do buy every textbook, you don’t need to buy it first hand.

27. Have a think of what you actually want to do after your degree in advance, rather than hoping for the best.

28. Put yourself out there and join societies.

29. Not everyone will like you and that’s fine. You will not like everyone either.

30. Stand up for yourself and find your crowd. You are awesome – remember that.

31. Not everyone finds a big group who will be their “friends for life” at uni. Remember, it’s better to have a few good ones than a whole bunch of fake ones.

32. Club nights can be lethal and somewhat overpriced.

33. Take photos. Even if you don’t want to. It’s fun to look back on.

34. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

35. You don’t have to be best friends with the people you live with.

36. It’s okay (ish) to skip some lectures but not seminars – that is way too obvious!

37. If you drink the supermarket’s cheapest wine for long enough, you will not realise just how bad it is. Until the next morning…

38. You can wear whatever the heck you want on campus.

39. It is perfectly acceptable to stay in your dressing gown all day at home.

40. Pre-drinks always beats going out.

41. For your own sake don’t plagarize.

42. A set of speakers and a deck of cards is all you need for a good night.

43. Free pizza and Krispy Kreme sales on campus may come at a price of charity donations or local campus elections.

44. Always back up your work.

45. “Spotted At [insert your town] University” was like a discount gossip girl.

46. Napping is a part of university culture – I think I missed out here!

47. Group assignments will still be a pain just like when you were 14 years old.

48. Never compare or look up the answers after an exam. File them away into a little box away in your mind and crack open a cider instead.

49. The weekly fire alarm drill test will give you a mini heart attack every week!

50. University will go by really quickly. Before you know it it’s 4 years since graduated …

There are still so many things I could have added to this list! I hope you enjoyed this post and will subscribe, like and comment if so!

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What I Wish I Knew Before Graduating

Currently at this time of year mid February has a completely different meaning to me than what it did when I was student. Right now I think about how it’s still light when I go to and come home from work. When I was a student mid-Feb meant reading week, finishing my dissertation and preparing for exams. It also meant preparing for adulthood as I would soon enter the working world. Here’s all the things you should know before you finish university.

1. Make the most of no responsibilities.

2. When you’re a student enjoy your money. You don’t have to save right now. It sure does help but you have your whole life to save.

3. Do not get into debt.

4. If you do get into debt, do not lie about it. Tell your family and your friends and your housemates. This will make a huge difference. The quicker you deal with it, the quicker you get out of it.

5. Do not freak out if you don’t get into the graduate scheme you wanted or don’t have a job lined up.

6. Enjoy your holidays. From here on out it’s all about booking annual leave on an allotted leave calendar and getting it approved by your manager.

7. The friends you make at uni or didn’t make, isn’t the be all and end all. You will continue to meet people and make friends.

8. Really you should just continue to study and not grow up.

9. Prepare yourself for what you’re going to do next. Okay you may not have a job, but know where you will be living at least!

10. Chances are you most likely will have to move back home.

12. If you do move back home, start making a plan when you do go back. Are you going to save as much as you can until you can move out? Rent with friends? Save for a gap year travelling? If you get on with your family and are living rent free it’s great, but if you’re living in the cupboard under the stairs like Harry Potter without a semblance of an idea what job to do, or what you want to achieve in the next year, you may feel a bit depressed.

13. Have realistic expectations and do take it a year at a time. You may get a job straight away or you may not. Decide if you’re gonna temp for a bit or hold out for your dream job (if you can afford it). Either way, do not stop dreaming and hoping!

14. Yes adulthood really does become so money oriented.

15. Do not overwhelm yourself. The positives about being money orientated means that you are one step closer to moving out, buying your own car, starting your dream business- your life is just beginning. It’s quite exciting.

16. Get the help from your University that you need or could need in the future. Go to the Careers Centre and the CV clinic, get a second opinion. Ask your mentor to be a referee on your CV too. Keep good ties and end on a high note with them, just in case you want to return to do a Postgrad.

17. Moving back home doesn’t have to be how it was when you were 18. As hard as it is, try to break bad habits. You’ve just had three years cooking, cleaning and taking care of yourself. Even if your beloved mother wants to continue doing your laundry, helping out from time to time with the household chores goes a long way.

18. This is the next phase of your life and maybe you aren’t moving home but instead staying in your Uni town, moving away to Australia or going to Mars. Whatever it is you decide to do, enjoy it. You’ve worked hard and deserve a break at least until Graduation!

19. The modules you took and the difficult people you came across at Uni are relevant examples for interviews. You may not have as much life experience as some candidates but you do have experience.

20. University really is a great time, go out and discover your city, celebrate and make the most of it before you join the big boys and girls! Celebrate this chapter and welcome in the new one!

What other things would you tell people about the transition between University to employment life? Good luck to all of you students and happy studying, and for all you graduates – happy Tuesday!

Is University worth it?

It seems everyone has an opinion on going to University and so they should. It’s expensive and three to four years is a long time to dedicate your time to. However some people may decide to have a gap year instead. I actually think a gap year is quite smart as you should not go if you do not feel ready. Alternatively you may be like me where you want to stay in education, move away from home but don’t totally know what you want to study, just that you do and have an interest a subject that you think can keep up with the next few years. Those who really don’t want to go but perhaps all of their friends are going or feel pressured to go because maybe your parents want you to, or your siblings went etc, my advice would be in this case- IT IS NOT WORTH IT. Go get a job, an apprenticeship, travel- whatever you do, do not waste the time and money of dropping out after Fresher’s week. You will only get yourself into debt, because guess what- you do not get your student loan until the actual term starts. That being said don’t just waste time sitting at home watching reruns of Friends all day (even though I love Friends ❤ )

On the other hand, some of you may fall into the following categories:

  • You are in the gap year period where you are unsure about  whether or not to go to University. You are stuck due to lack of savings, full of envy as your friends have swanned off around Thailand, Australia or New Zealand
  • You may be considering to go and get a degree after years of work and being out of education, but are worried whether Uni is the right thing for you
  • Or you may be are a graduate like me and reflecting about said question

“Is University Worth It?”

Social Life

I graduated in 2016 (which is mad to think that it is now 2018) with a 2:1 in Psychology and boy did I work for it. Considering that I was studying a degree about people, I did not expect to learned even more about people OUTSIDE of the lecture theatres. This is something I would consider as worthwhile in the whole University experience. A lot of people say that Uni was the best time of their lives, but few mention how the people you meet at Uni are as Forest Gump says, “a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”; this is something I will go into more detail about in a later post.

Regardless of whether your experiences are positive or negative, it is completely worth it to live away from home at University. You learn how to deal with contrasting characters (to put it lightly) and that’s something you will inevitably come across at some point in your life, Like I said, living with people really put my degree into perspective and all the crazy theories about human behaviour suddenly made sense. The social side to University is fun and challenging at the same time. You build so much character, independence and hopefully good memories along the way.


Another plus is that you have the opportunity to discover a city that you may never have lived in before, as well as your friends! You learn the best places to go out on campus (and the worst), the quirky restaurants in town and the hidden treasures. Maybe you even meet someone who changes your life; whether that is someone that you begin to date or a friend who may end up being Godparent to your future kids. Who knows?

Finances

So what about the actual studying that’s involved at Uni? You would be surprised just how many people forget about that. These people are a breed who go into hibernation after only attending the first couple of lectures of the semester. They are nocturnal animals only being sighted at 10:00pm at pre-drinks with a bottle of Sainsbury’s own Vodka to hand. They then only reappear in daylight during exam season where they camp out in the library, ‘revising’ as they Snapchat to fool the world that they have been a Uni student all along. These are the people in the last week before exams at the revision lectures, ask who is that person up there by the podium. That person of course is the lecturer you have had all year.

I really don’t know how they do it. I would be having heart palpitations if I tried to learn the whole syllabus in 48 hours. In my opinion, unless you are a genius and retain information easily or have the willpower to catch up at home on your own outside of lectures, then the aforementioned behaviour will  cause you to struggle. This will get annoying for your housemates and course friends who have to listen to you complain about your crap grades as a result of your ghostly presence in lectures. Ultimately, if you aren’t planning on doing any studying then what is the point of going? Surely clubbing nights and racking up a debt with no income isn’t worth it? With tuition fees being over £9000 a year on top of rent, lets say approx £400 monthly on a 9 month contract that’s already £12,600. That is without the maintenance loan you have to pay back, oh yeah and the fun thing called interest that totals up over the years. If that’s what you want to do, then no it really isn’t worth it in the long run. To be fair, I didn’t go to every single lecture but I did appreciate my degree. I also did not let the student loan put me off. I never went into my overdraft and did not add extra debt. There is a cap of  £21,000 you have to earn before you pay back your student loan, and even that is in monthly installments out of your wage, so I really wouldn’t worry too much. Just do yourself a favour and  don’t get yourself into further debt with rent, bills and going out.

Education

When I began Uni at the tender age of 18, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life or what real career I wanted. I did know that I had the drive to push myself to study even when things were tough- statistics and biological science- you almost killed me. But I overcame these challenges and I knew that the degree would open me up to so many career paths. I for one think it’s absolutely fine and actually very common to admit that before starting your course, whilst studying at Uni or even after you have graduated that you don’t know what you want to do next. Choose a degree that you will enjoy, one that would have real value for you and that utilities your strengths. In a perfect world if you know that you want to be a doctor, a lawyer or an environmental psychologist then you will benefit even more from your degree, however the world’s not perfect not everyone has that clarity and affirmation of what they want to do. I certainly didn’t. As long as you have drive to complete your degree to your full potential, it will be worth it. However do not beat yourself up about it, perhaps you’re a perfectionist like me, or maybe it’s just human nature to think you could have done better. I was really pushing for a first on my dissertation and felt disappointment when I got a 2:1. Nonetheless, in hindsight I know I did my best.

Last but not least is…

Adulthood

After I graduated, I moved back home and I think that if I didn’t go to Uni I would be seriously lacking in street smarts about how to ‘adult’ and to cope with daily grown up responsibilities. This includes: money for rent, bills, shopping, what to do when the fuse trips, cooking for myself without burning the house down or what to do when the house nearly explodes because you have a gas leak… I told you that Uni could be challenging! But thank goodness I learned all of that NOW and not when I am in a position to move out when older and having never lived without the comfort of my parent’s security blanket and fully heated house. Although I dread to think that I may have to revisit one or two of those lessons.

SO IS IT WORTH IT? I would have to say yes- for me personally, it made me more mature, I learned how to deal with money, about living with others, dealing with difficult people in and out of lectures, I made good friends and have fond memories of a city I lived in for 3 years. Now nearly two years on, I can confidently talk about the value of my degree and life experience that going to University gave me in interviews, and for that I would say it’s definitely worth it.