Recently I was looking back at some photos of myself in my early 20s.
I felt a twinge of sadness that I’m no longer that age and more than a few regrets as I thought about things I could’ve done to improve my life and wellbeing back then.
But I’m also relieved that I’m no longer dealing with things that plagued me in my 20s, such as struggling to get by on a low income, worrying about my career prospects as well as dealing toxic friendships and dead-end relationships.
I turn 31 on Friday and so far, the first year of the 30s has been far better than all of my 20s put together.
When I was 21, I had only left Ireland once, I was friends with people who dragged me down and held me back, I was hopeless with relationships and I had no idea what to do with my life.
These days I might not get ID’d anymore when buying drink (they did it up until about 28) but I am a stronger, happier more confident person.
Here’s a look at how my life has changed for the better:
I used to go out and drink until I fell over or at least got very tipsy. Then I’d be up for work or college the next day no bother.
Nowadays I drink a lot less and I prefer to go to my local than going into town.
I used to love nightclubs and predrinks but I haven’t been in a nightclub for over a year and I can’t even remember when I last did predrinks!
Of course, I have the odd session or weeknight drinks on a rare occasion but in general, I’m a lot more sensible.
I slogged it out during the recession working in retail, admin and recruitment, sometimes working two part-time jobs at once just to pay the rent.
Once I worked 32 days in a row without a single day off!
I moved to Dublin when I was 24 but found it even more challenging here due to the high rents.
Over time, I saved up and took the plunge to do my Master’s degree in journalism, something I never thought would be possible.
They say you learn more from your failures in life than your successes and for me, that is certainly true.
After doing two internships, I secured a full-time position in a great company and I’m finally earning a decent wage (enough to get by in Dublin anyway…)
My family didn’t go on holidays when we were kids as my parents worked all hours on our farm and we had no money.
In my 20s, I spent two summers working in America as well as city breaks and longer holidays in the last couple of years.
While I didn’t have much money for travelling in my 20s, I couchsurfed, bunked with friends and stayed in hostels and cheap motels.
I also travelled on my own several times which built up my confidence massively.
I’ve yet to do any backpacking or round-the-world trips but who knows what opportunities may come yet?!
My fashion and style sense really hasn’t changed that much but I’m a lot more into charity shopping and vintage clothing these days.
My style is still pretty colourful but I don’t wear heels as much (partly because I wrecked my ankle) or really short tight dresses anymore – not quite as slim as I once was either – but I’m happy regardless!
In my early 20s, I was obsessed with labels and brands but these days my wardrobe is a mix of second-hand, vintage and high-street clothing.
My outfit below is an example of this. I was gifted this black faux fur jacket by PrettyLittleThing and I absolutely love it.
It’s a statement piece that switches up any outfit.
I wore it with Topshop mom jeans, New Look boots and a t-shirt from Etsy.
My accessories are all cheap and cheerful, a vintage belt which was €1 in a charity shop, earrings from AliExpress, a Penneys necklace and a beret I bought for €4 in Topshop.
I don’t and maybe never will have a mortgage but that’s OK. I’ve been renting since I was 18 and last year, finally got a lease in my own name – sharing with a roomie obviously.
In the current rental climate, I feel very lucky to have a safe place to call home.
A lot of my friends are settling down now, getting married and having kids but I don’t feel under pressure. I would love to get married one day but for now, I’m very content with my relationship.
As I’ve matured, I’ve developed a more balanced approach to friendships and relationships.
I used to put everything into a friendship or a relationship regardless of whether that person cared for me in the same way. My self-esteem was so low that I thought I needed these people.
When my dad died suddenly in 2014, something inside me snapped and I cut ties with some toxic people. Life is too short to spend it around people who bring you down.
I don’t have lots of friends but the ones I have are reliable and I’m in a long-term relationship with someone who has been there for me through the good times but also some really tough times. He even took the photos for this post!
I’m aware that I’m still very young and my life is bound to change so much yet but I’m happy with where it is going.
If you’re struggling with any of the issues I’ve mentioned, I hope this will give you hope. And if you’re near the end of your 20s and dreading the 30s, honestly it’s nothing to be afraid of!
Outfit cost breakdown
Jacket – Prettylittlething but was gifted – Please note they did not ask me to blog about or review it but I absolutely love it!
Thank you to Burrell PR for the generous gift. You can find it here – not an affiliate link.
Jeans – €55 Topshop
Beret – €4 Topshop
Belt- €1 charity shop
Necklace -€3 Penneys
T-shirt – €15.70 Pink Space Store Etsy
Boots – €18 on sale from New Look
Earrings – €1.67
Total cost: €98.37
Thanks for reading this incredibly long post. I’m going to DCU’s Fashion Show this week and I’ll be posting about it soon.