23 Things I’ve Learnt In 23 Years

Last week I celebrated my 23rd birthday in Mexico City – meaning tequila, tacos and some serious reflection. And this has got me thinking about all of the things I’ve learnt, and still have left to learn about love, life and how much beer I can actually drink. In the famous words of Blink 182 – “nobody likes you when you’re 23, my friends say I should act my age, what’s my age again?”

  1. You’re a Queen – girl you’re killing it, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  2. Respect & Honesty – it’s what you should receive, but most importantly give to everyone.
  3. You won’t learn your limits – with each hangover I ask ‘when?! when will I learn?!’ The answer is yet to be determined.
  4. You will make the same mistakes twice – You’ll fuck up and fuck up again. Forgive yourself, learn and know that everyone fucks up and life goes on.
  5. Trust yourself – Trust your gut instinct and follow it. It somehow always knows what’s right for you.
  6. Friday nights in are just as good as – if not better than going out. Enough said.
  7. Travel is the best investment I’ve made – OK I may not have any other investments at the moment, but from all the travel I’ve done, it’s the thing that helps me grow, learn and understand this crazy world a little better.
  8. Adulting is a misconception and no one actually know how to do it. Not even your parents.
  9. Life is bumpy – Not everything goes according to plan. The route is a bit bumpier for some more than others. Just know that you’ll get through it.
  10. Taking time for yourself is not selfish, it’s essential.
  11. Be excited about everything you do – have a positive attitude and get excited by life.
  12. I have to change the world before I settle down – I know that there’s so many things that I want to do and achieve before I settle down. And I’m not going to let anyone stand in the way of that. Watch out guys, I’ve got a world to change.
  13. The thought of having children is still the most terrifying thought imaginable. Sorry Mum.
  14. Trying new things is important – push your comfort zone, learn something new, make a fool of yourself and challenge yourself.
  15. Surround yourself with people who positively contribute to your life – Don’t let negative people pull you down or cast a shadow on your light. Surround yourself with people who push you, help you, are there for you and believe in you.
  16. Have mentors and people who inspire you.
  17. Be thankful and show it – Life is nothing but chance and luck. Some are much luckier than others. Be appreciative of what you have and acknowledge what others don’t have. Do something about it and show your gratitude.
  18. Family is actually so important – I’m so lucky that my family are so supportive of my decisions and accept me for who I am. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without them.
  19. Acknowledge your privilege 
  20. Give back to the community – commit to something, make connections, make a difference, offer your skills and experience and be apart of something bigger than yourself.
  21. Education is one of the most powerful weapons you can arm yourself with
  22. Happiness is the key – a smile can change your day
  23. Be proud – hold your head high, back yourself, be proud of your accomplishments, your ambitions, your hobbies, your passions and don’t let anyone ever try and take that away from you.

At the end of the day, turning 23 isn’t a big deal. But the things I’ve learnt along the way have shaped my very core. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve visited, the things I’ve learnt, the opportunities I’ve experienced, have challenged, inspired and motivated me to be the very best person I can be. And it’s my goal in life to spread happiness, encourage acceptance, make a difference and be a fucking queen!

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I Don’t Know What I Want To Do After University: And I’m OK With That

So I’m about to finish my 3rd year of university, with only a year to go until that glorious graduation day. So it’s common that I get asked what my plans are for when I do graduate. And of course, I’m OK with people asking me this. I’ve got big dreams and big plans. But people give me a somewhat unsatisfied look when I can’t give them the name of a profession. Like somehow that doesn’t align with their idea of what my degree leads to or their expectation of me. I usually sit there trying to defend myself and the fact that I don’t know what I want to do, but that’s a good thing etc… but I can see it in their eyes. They think I’m delusional.

So this has prompted me to realise and accept the following…

The truth is, I don’t know what I want to do after I graduate, and I’m happy about that.

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What ideas do I have?

Well let me name a few to get us started.

I’m considering doing honours (thesis). Taking a year off to work. Taking time off to travelVolunteering for an NGO. Applying for a graduate program. Doing my Masters. Doing my Masters overseas. Start my own business. Become involved in politics. Be a foreign correspondent. Be a freelance content creator. 

I have no shortage of ideas. But I feel like I shouldn’t be narrow on my focus or goals. That I shouldn’t discount anything just yet, because who know’s where life will take you. Or should I say, where I’m going to navigate my life.

The reality is, I’m only 22 years old. Some people at my age know exactly what they want to do in life and that’s fantastic, and I support that! But I feel that where I am right now in my life, it’s basically impossible for me to be sure which direction I want to go in. There’s endless possibilities out there. They say that young generations are going to switch careers multiple times during our work life anyway. At my age right now, I value life experience and the skills and lessons I’ve learnt outside of a classroom, more than pursuing a traditional lifestyle of finding a job, husband and settling down. Ain’t nothing settling down around here anytime soon.

I think the most frustrating thing is that the people who ask you this question, are usually the people who know you the least. You’ve usually just met and they’re making awkward small talk, which I hate. So when someone doubts my ability, accomplishments or ambitions, it’s extremely frustrating. Because they’re making an immediate judgement and assumption from our first meeting. Not cool.

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So what can we do about this?

Instead of people asking ‘what you want to do when you graduate’, or ‘what career do you want’… let’s ask something more meaningful. Maybe we can ask them what goals they have? Does what they do make them happy? Where do you see your goals taking you? What’s your biggest dream?

I also think that’s it’s dangerous to put so much pressure on young people. I think society perceives us as invincible, but I feel kind of the opposite at the moment. I feel vulnerable and susceptible to societies expectations but I feel strong in my determination to make something of myself and make myself proud.

I think that by asking these sorts of questions and being encouraging and nurturing of people’s ideas and dreams is the way forward. Questions and conversations that mean something to people. I believe that by moving away from the traditional conversations, we can adapt and change our conversations and belief in others to one that is nurturing, inquisitive and encouraging to ensure we leave a conversation inspired and not judged.

[If you’re still unsure what I’m talking about… check out this amazing TED Talk below, explaining why she, and many others don’t have one true calling – and that’s a good thing!]

What LIVING IN FRANCE Taught Me About FOOD

So as you probably already know, in July I was lucky enough to live in France for the month where I did an intensive language course whilst getting the unique opportunity to live with a host family (you can read about my experiences in La Rochelle here). And thanks to this program and this opportunity, not only has my French improved tenfold, but I think the French perspective towards food has rubbed off on me a little.

Luckily for me, Delphine, the incredibly French woman I was living with, is an amazing cook with a passion for food and French cuisine. At the time of course I was grateful to eat such incredible food, but I think it’s only now that I’m truly coming to realise just how much living in France changed my perspective towards food. And here’s how I think it’s changed…

*note to the hungry* maybe go grab a snack and then read…. because some of these pictures might inspire tummy grumbling!

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Eating 1.5kg of moules caught that morning!

Freshness is key

To cook good food, you need to start with quality products. And that means fresh. After you eat truly fresh food, it will make frozen food or week old food taste like flour. I’ll never forget the time that Delphine bought 3kgs of mussels (moules in French) that had been caught that very morning. They were so fresh that they even had tiny little crabs in some of them!

And as for your bread and baguettes, if you have ever had a crispy warm baguette that’s just come out of the oven…. you will understand. If not, you are missing out and must embark to your local bakery immediately to change this.

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One of our favourite restaurants in La Rochelle. The Cave! Unlimited bread and the best rosé around!

Local

Unfortunately you generally can’t buy super fresh food from large chain supermarkets. If you want the freshest, juiciest, plumpest, ripest, most colourful produce, you need to buy local! Buying local means that the food hasn’t travelled as far, meaning less energy required to transport it. Buying local means you’re also supporting local businesses, people and their families.

This also applies to getting your morning coffee. I try to avoid going to Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Gloria Jeans. These huge companies already make enough money as it is. And this whole fair trade thing they advertise… I just don’t buy it. Instead, I’ll opt for a little cafe or street vendor. They’re usually cheaper, nicer, give better service and is all round a better experience.

Keep it simple

I think a lot of the meals I used to make in Australia were very ‘busy.’ I’d make pasta and need to put everything in it, I’d make pizza and need to put everything on it. I think it’s in our culture that we’re taught to believe that no meal is complete without meat, vegetables, potatoes. Or something along those lines.

In France, our meals would be very ‘deconstructed.’ And I mean that in a good way. We would have a bowl of tomatoes, a bowl of lettuce, a plate of steaks, goats cheese and of course some bread. I found that these meals were the most delicious! It purely relied on the quality of the produce and the flavours just did their thing on your tastebuds.

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Macaroons are a must. They’re little and filled with flavour. The perfect treat yourself treat!

Quality not quantity

In France, it’s all about quality. Our meals that we ate generally weren’t huge and didn’t leave you feeling full. But I hate that feeling anyway. Where you’re so full that it hurts to move. The meals we had were all about the quality and you were left feeling so satisfied that it didn’t matter that you weren’t full. And if you felt a bit peckish later, we would have a piece of fruit or some strawberries with mint and yoghurt!

It’s an experience

The whole journey of preparing a meal, from buying the produce, pairing it with some wine, preparation, serving and eating is a beautiful experience. It also made me realise the importance of sharing these meals with special people. Some of the best nights were spent at our dinner table sipping wine, talking about life’s problems and devouring a whole block of goats cheese (I’m looking at you Laura 😉 ).

Oh – And there’s always room for Ice Cream! (Inspired by Elly)

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Ice cream is essential!

The cons however are…

That every baguette you ever have after France is merde! 

I’m trying to carry this perspective with me. That you need to have a healthy relationship with food. Food is there to bring people together, bring pleasure, experiences, happiness and health. We need to put the best food into our bodies so we can get the most out of us! If anyone knows me, they know how much I love food and I’m a strong believer in balance. Because in a balanced diet, there’s room for icecream and macaroons… and who doesn’t want that?

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The epitome of Frenchness – baguette under arm and no care in the world

 

 

 

Things I Learnt From Being a Keynote Speaker

At the beginning of February, I was a keynote speaker for UOW’s Discovery Days. Discovery Days is where year 12 students come to the university to experience a day in the life of a uni student (a pretty cool experience if you ask me). At first I was over the moon! I’d always wanted an incredible opportunity like this to speak to students in an inspirational manner. But then it dawned on me… am I inspirational? Am I interesting enough to Year 12 students? What am I going to say? Over the course of 5 days, I would speak to over 6000 students from all over NSW and the ACT. And if I’m going to speak to that many students, it’s got to be good! I had so many ideas, doubts, worries, nerves… it was all pretty overwhelming as I’d never done something like this before. It was a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

Now that it’s over and done, I’ve had some time to reflect on this scary, exciting and exhilarating experience. I learnt so much. And lessons that don’t  just apply to being a keynote speaker, but lessons I will carry with me for as long as I can.

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Day 1 of 5

Lesson 1 – Practice makes perfect. 

And if it’s not perfect, then it’ll be pretty damn close. I started writing this speech in December last year, so it was pretty well embedded in my mind when it came to February. I knew this speech. I had notes sitting on the stand just in case, but other than that I was just relying on the pictures on my slide and my trusty brain. I must’ve practiced this speech at least 30 times before I practiced in front of an empty audience before I actually delivered my speech. Sure I may have made mistakes but because it was etched in my mind, I was confident with what I’m doing. So whatever it is you’re trying to do, practice really does pay off.

Lesson 2 – Think positively. Always.

Whilst preparing for my speech and even waiting backstage before I was called up, all of these bizarre negative thoughts would cross my mind. “What if I fall over? What if I have a coughing fit? What if I am so nervous that I pee my pants?” Right?! Ridiculous thoughts. All you can do is push those negative thoughts out of your mind. Realistically, the worst thing that could happen was that I might stumble on a word, or lose my train of thought… and in realistically, it’s not the worst thing that could ever happen.

Lesson 3 – Surround yourself with positive people.

I was lucky enough to speak alongside of my amazing friend Campbell. He’s hilarious, talented, kind, energetic and did I mention hilarious? He was the MC to get everyone pumped up and man did he nail it. I was so grateful I could go through all of these emotions with him by my side. We would pump each other up before our speech, give each other support and encouragement and a massive hug once we’d finished! My bosses were our side stage wingmen and women who were there to snap some awesome pictures and to give moral support. And knowing that I had friends and family watching was such an amazing feeling. It’s all of these amazing people that you surround yourself with, who are going to encourage you to push your boundaries and support you.

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Campbell and I rocking the stage!

Lesson 4 – Balance is key!

During DDAYS, I would be at uni at about 7:30am until about 3:30. They were pretty big days that were high energy and concentration. It helped me realise that you have to listen to your body and what it’s telling you. Having such a crazy week really made me focus on getting a good nights sleep, eating healthily and taking some time out for myself to relax. By being aware of trying to balance these things, it really helped me be the best person I can be. Something I definitely need to be doing a lot more of.

Lesson 5 – Be true to yourself and proud of yourself.

The biggest lesson I learnt throughout this whole experience, is be true to yourself and be proud of what you believe in. As I was writing and preparing for my speech, I kept doubting myself, wondering if people would like it, if they would get it, or if it would be any good. And then I realised, this is my opinion, my experiences and my perspectives. Of course not everyone will relate to my experiences, but they might find my story interesting. And better yet, my perspectives may actually resonate with people listening or they may even find me inspiring. No matter what it is you’re setting out to do, if you stay true to who you are and what you love, you can’t really go wrong, and you may even spread some joy.

Being a keynote speaker is something I’m incredibly proud of. Getting the amazing opportunity to spread my ideas, experiences and perspectives has been a dream come true and I thank each and every one of you who support me with whatever it is I set out to do.

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