The Bigger, Longer, More Brilliant List of Life Lessons

Back in December 2012, I wrote a list of 33 things I had learnt about life.

Well, now I'm up to 50 life lessons. And these are they:
  1. It's easier to get an unappealing task over with than it is to procrastinate and have it hanging over you for days. 
  2. On that note, have routines for all the tedious stuff so it takes only the teeniest amount of time, thought and effort.
  3. If you think you're too good for your job (you're probably right; we all start at the bottom), you'll get a promotion faster by being super helpful and efficient than by bitching and moaning and throwing a strop every time you're asked to do anything extra.
  4. Do a self defense class. One which teaches you that it's okay to be rude if it keeps you safe. As well as some kick ass moves.
  5. You and your friends should be able to have different opinions on almost any subject without taking it as a personal insult. You're allowed to disagree with people you like.
  6. Most things are worth doing slowly and thoroughly rather than blitzing through them and thinking, "That'll do."
  7. Walking on fire is easy. Turns out, you can do all sorts of scary things with the right coaching.
  8. If you want to make friends, you have to make yourself available. There's no point sitting at home and complaining that you have no social life when you're really just too scared to go and meet people.
  9. Nobody is ever your last chance at happiness. Not ever.
  10. And nobody has the right to make you feel bad about yourself - not your parents, not your partner and not your so-called friends. Surround yourself with love.
  11. You can't expect mutual friends to choose between you and your arch-nemesis. They won't do it and you'll look like the bad guy for trying to make them take sides.  
  12. Likewise, you can't force people to like one another. If your friends don't get on, revel in having multiple social circles instead of just having the one.
  13. You don't need so many belongings.  
  14. It's not up to your boss to spot that you're unwell; it's up to you to say that you're not fit for work. Go home.
  15. Hold your own opinions, but form them by thoroughly considering both sides of the debate.
  16. Do nice things for people when they're not expecting them. It will make you both feel good.
  17. It's okay not to like the same things as everyone else. Pursue your own passions. 
  18. The present very quickly becomes the past. Your latest blistering embarrassment will be forgotten before you know it.
  19. Keep other people's secrets.
  20. You don't need to like everyone you work with; you just need to be able to be civil to each other.
  21. You do need to not hate your job. Or to be working on a plan of escape. 
  22. People can be grumpy and judgemental. But it's rarely about you. Give them time and space.
  23. Likewise, if you need time to yourself, take it before you take it out on anyone else. 
  24. Buy the more expensive, brand name paint. It takes less coats to cover a wall.
  25. Learn new things. All the time. Accept almost every offer of training.
  26. Don't feel embarrassed to ask for help. Everybody needs advice sometimes.
  27. Other people's emotions are not toys. Don't play with them. 
  28. Your friends' (and partner's) personalities will not change as they get older. They will become more ingrained. Accept them or move on.
  29. Never start a sentence with, "No offense, but..."; we both know it's a lie. 
  30. Fake confidence until you start to feel it. It's a cliche because it's true.
  31. Giving blood, a few hours of your time or a material donation doesn't take much effort and will fill you with pride.
  32. Make more friends than you think you need. They have a habit of leaving town. 
  33. Sometimes saying nothing is most helpful. Offer a shoulder to sob on instead of instructions and opinions.
  34. Just because something is easy for you doesn't mean it's easy for everyone else. Don't ridicule someone for being slow to learn something you find simple; don't undervalue your own skills just because you don't find them difficult. 
  35. If you don't want to accept an invitation, don't. Don't waste people's time with a maybe.
  36. You need enough money to pay the bills. Beyond that, pleasure and health take priority. 
  37. Don't buy clothes which are too small for you or which are made of unflatteringly clingy fabrics. They will not make you feel good about yourself.
  38. If you need to set reminders to call or text your friends, set reminders. This is especially important when you know that times are tough for them. 
  39. If you're not a toddler, you shouldn't be throwing screaming tantrums. Learn to talk your anger through. 
  40. Even grown ups need to be silly sometimes. In fact, we need to be silly a lot. Make time for it.
  41. If you've consistently got no energy, there's something wrong. Get a blood test. If it's clear, ask yourself what's making you unhappy. 
  42. Not all of your friends have to be good in crisis. But figure out which ones are which before you need someone to talk to.
  43. Know what it is that you love and admire in your partner. And your friends. Give this proper thought.
  44. Don't try to cover up mistakes. The embarrassment is briefer when you admit your error than when you're caught in a lie. 
  45. Negativity is exhausting. Keep the bitching to a minimum.
  46. Wondering what might have been is worse than trying and failing. Take chances.
  47. Always have at least one fun thing to look forward to. Even if it's ten months away.
  48. Ask the experts, not the internet. 
  49. If you and your partner want fundamentally different things out of life, face up to that now. Don't wait for the crisis point.
  50. Cynicism and intelligence are not the same thing. Seeing the negative side to everything doesn't prove that you're smart.
  51. Debt is for emergencies and pensions are important. Never buy treats on your credit card. Set yourself a budget.
  52. Life is not a competition. There will always be younger people who are more successful than you are. Focus on your own achievements instead of on theirs.
  53. Take care of your health. It's easier to damage than it is to repair.
  54. Don't explain to people why you're awesome. Let them notice it for themselves.


  1. Gah, so many good things here! I wanted to pick out my favorites but they're all great lessons, so I will just say "spot on!"

    If I made a similar list (and I hope you're okay with me offering this!) I would add get regular check-ups with your doctor. I know far too many people--women and men--who don't get regular pelvic exams, breast and testicular cancer exams, or just normal physicals. Cancer and other serious conditions can and DO happen to young people too.  Getting into the routine when you're young is extremely important.  Kind of soap-boxy, but as a cancer survivor and friend of many 20-somethings who discovered they had cancer early enough to be treated, it's very important to me.

    Thanks for this list and HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY!

  2. I love it! Wow Sarah, I'm really impressed by your list. I must remember to revisit this post and re-read your list every so often. Lots of wisdom!

  3. It's your birthday already here in Australia, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    This is an amazing list - I could almost hear Baz Luhrman reciting it over background music! Seriously though, it really is a great list, and many of your points hit home hard. Thank you for that.

  4. You are very wise for one so young! ;)
    Happy Birthday!

  5. Always look both ways before you cross the road. Even if you're at a well-marked well-lit crosswalk in the middle of the day. Make eye contact with the driver before you go. No lie, two pedestrians were killed here last week and three others were hit because they just walked out into traffic.
    Right of way doesn't mean "magical power to always be visible to drivers".

  6. Brilliant list! And happy birthday!! x

  7. Happy birthday! After a few false starts, I am loving 34.  Hope it's as good for you x

  8. Happy birthday, and amen to this list! Particularly number 32, which is becoming clearer to me every year. It feels strange sometimes because everyone hits certain achievements around the same time through childhood and their teens, but then begin to deviate wildly. Turns out, everyone has their own timeline. :)

  9. Exactly - it stops being timetabled after school. I spent so much of my early twenties trying to beat the "prodigal" novelists, but that wasn't the path for me.

  10. Thank you! I have high hopes for it.

  11. Yikes, really?! My old commute to work used to involve running across a very busy road twice a day and it terrified me.

  12. Aw, thank you! Hmm... maybe the next step for my blog should be musical voiceovers...

  13. Yes! As much as I'll defend the NHS (and we DO get regular smear tests at least), going in with anything non-specific is difficult and private medical exams cost hundreds - it was actually a huge relief when my old work sent me for an induction medical and I was certified as well.

    And thanks!

  14.  I had that for a while too but ended up going WAY out of my way to avoid it. It's just not worth the risk!

  15. brilliant advice!

  16. Glad to see you've taught me as much as I've taught you this year :)

  17. I'm not sure I follow your train of thought; you'll have to enlighten me later.

  18. I love this list, such great advice. I especially like number 30 because I know quite a few people who are unnecessarily critical (verging on downright rude) thinking it makes them seem smarter. It's ridiculous because NOBODY likes a smart arse.

    Also, happy belated birthday. I'm so behind on blog reading, so please accept my apologies for my tardy wishes! Hope you had a wonderful time xx


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