Last week was my birthday. And last year, I wrote a post called 20 Things I Learned During 20. You guys seemed to like it, ya crazies, so this year in honour of 22, I present you with 11 things I learned in Ireland and 11 things I learned in life over this past year living abroad. If you haven't caught on, that totals 22 lessons for 22 years I've been alive. Okay, sarcasm over. Maybe.
P.S. If you want to see pictures from my birthday celebrations, scroll down to the bottom!
Things I've Learned In Ireland
1. Rain doesn't stop fun. Since it rains pretty regularly in Ireland, and the rain tends to be incredibly heavy, most things will not shut down. Just last weekend, I went zip lining and climbing through treetops in the heaviest rain I have experienced in my life. And it was a lot of fun! I think sometimes we use the weather as an excuse to not get outside. Whether it's too hot, too cold, too wet, or too windy, it's more likely that you'll have an even more memorable time. Extremes can be an oddly successful way of bonding with others in the same situation. So get out there and breathe some fresh air!
2. Value time with your family. The Irish love their family. Americans tend to feel the need to assert their independence very strongly and push away from their parents for quite a while, but the relationship between parents and their children remains really strong here. It's been a reminder to me to stay in touch with family I can't see as often and cherish the time that I do have with them. They're the only people who are stuck with you (and who you're stuck with) for life !
3. Try new places. Dublin is not a place where you get bored. There are so many restaurants, parks, attractions, and events on all the time that there's never a shortage of fun things to do. Much like we usually order our favourites from the restaurants we frequent, I think we get stuck into a routine of going to the same places and doing the same things. Get out and try that new restaurant. Walk or drive around your town until you find some place that looks fun and go. You could find your new fave place!
4. Talk to strangers. People tend to spend a lot of time with their headphones in. And people tend to avoid talking to strangers. Depending on where you are here, it's kind of a given that you'll wave to whoever you're passing on the street. There have been many times when I've chosen to not put my headphones in on public transportation and have had wonderful conversations and made wonderful friends.
5. Speak kindly. There's kind of a joke that if you go to any pub in Ireland and sh*t talk someone, you'll likely be doing it to their friend or relative. So the moral of the story is, don't say not so nice things about others. In fact, say nice things about others. If you find yourself even thinking negatively about someone else, try and focus on the positive things about that person. It'll make you feel better, and it's an all-around nicer thing to do.
6. Get up, and move. People here are so much more active. Nearly all of the guys stay doing at least one sport through their lives and the girls all get out and run or go to the gym. It's kind of great that wherever I am, at any given time of day or night, there are people out running, walking, and just getting their bodies moving. You don't have to be lifting weights to move. Join a yoga class. Learn how to dance! Walk along the lake. Do whatever it takes to get moving.
7. Networking isn't stiff. I always had this opinion of networking being... well, the LinkedIn equivalent of the social media world. Boring. Dull. And very, very professional. But as I've gotten out there in life, I've realised that "networking" can just mean starting conversations. Everyone in Ireland is connected, which can make the whole process a little bit easier. Get to know people who seem like they'd be friendly to know. They'll be the ones who look out for you and do their best to get you where you want to be. That haughty businessmen you met that one time who owns a company isn't as likely to remember you as well as a personal friend will.
8. Take the bus. A lot more people take public transportation here. The bus, the lightrail, the train, you name it. It helps save wear and tear on your car and reduces petrol (gas) costs. It's better for the environment! It's really not as bad as it seems. Plus, it's built-in nap time for your commute, if you work crazy hours. Naps = Sanity.
9. Self love is versatile. I used to think of self love as thinking positive thoughts about yourself. But I've come to learn that it means doing anything at all that is beneficial for you, with the knowledge that it is beneficial. Exercising, eating healthy, socialising, practicing a hobby, pampering yourself, and having alone time are just a few ways to take care of yourself. People here have got it down.
10. Love without labels. I have watched many couples my age getting married and having kids in the states. But in Ireland, there wasn't a mandatory timeline included in their upbringing. People get married at an older age and there's not such a huge deal made out of getting married once you're together. People do things in their own time, and it's wonderful. Remember that if you want to take your time, it's okay. There's always going to be someone out there for you. The dating pool doesn't dry up at 20, it's just getting started. And marriage isn't the only way to stay in a loving, committed relationship long-term.
11. Find yourself first. Similar to the above lesson, I've learned that it's okay to spend your 20s getting to know yourself. You don't have to have it all figured out. So many younger people here don't start their settled down lives until their very late 20s. Embrace the endless possibilities. Try out different jobs. Try out different people! Try new foods and new places. Figure out what makes you tick. And follow that!
Things I've Learned In Life
1. People make time for what they value. I've toyed with this idea before. I'll be the first to admit that I only keep people in my life who strictly make it better. I'm too impatient for drama! But moving abroad has really given me an idea of who's willing to make time to talk and who's not. If someone is busy, they'll still make time in their life for people and things that they really want around. Don't kill yourself trying to make all of the effort in a relationship. You'll feel drained before you know it.
2. Express gratitude. Around the beginning of this year, I started a gratitude journal. Every night before bed I think back on my day and write down 3 things that I was grateful for. It could be things that happened that day, or things that I take for granted like having fresh food, a roof over my head, or a comfortable bed. Doing this has made me appreciate the life I have so much more, especially on bad days when the world feels like it's against me.
3. Your life is about you. Over the last year I've struggled with this myself. I have to remind myself that life isn't always such a competition. People post their best lives on social media. That doesn't mean that those pictures are telling the full story. I've lived in Ireland for a while now and people tell me all the time how amazing my life looks. Do I disagree? No! I love Ireland, and I'm fortunate to be here and living the life that I am. But I've been sad, homesick, and stressed most of the time. It hasn't been easy! Visas are a pain and adapting to a different culture can be really difficult and isolating. My point is, what people post isn't always as great as it seems. Make sure to live your life the way that you need to live it. Don't do things just because you feel pressured to keep up with everyone else.
4. Take care of yourself first. People usually get praised for being selfless. But I'm a firm believer that before you can fully be selfless, you need to be a little selfish. You have to take care of yourself and make sure that you're at an okay place before you can give to others in the way that they need. Otherwise, you could end up giving out too much of yourself and it's hard to come back from that.
5. Say it like you mean it. If you're asking someone how their day is going, really mean it, and be curious about if they're having a good or bad day. If someone asks you, tell them how you're really doing! It doesn't have to turn into a rant fest, but it can be nice simply knowing that someone genuinely cares about how you're doing in that moment.
6. If it takes 5 minutes, do it now. This one isn't very meaningful, but it's really simplified my life and taken some of my laziness away. If I have a dish to wash, I wash it. If I have a message to send, I send it right then. Pretty much anything I know will take just a few minutes to do, I do it right as I'm thinking about it rather than putting it off. It's kept me from being so scatterbrained.
7. Speak your mind. This one can be positive or negative. If you're unhappy with someone or something, say it. Of course, say it nicely and constructively, but people aren't mind readers. There's no way of knowing that someone is unhappy unless they say something! Start meaningful conversations. On the other side of this, if you really love someone's outfit, if their new haircut looks great, or if you're missing a friend or family member, tell them. It'll brighten their day.
8. Dance. Sometimes, the only answer is to dance. Turn on some music while you clean the house and dance. Dance alone or with a partner. Learn a new dance fad. Don't worry about looking silly in public, people will enjoy your confidence! And don't worry about going out in public, dance it out at home!
9. Fulfill childhood dreams. Being an adult can strip the fun out of life- if you let it. I say take time to do the things you always wanted to do as a kid! Eat ice cream for breakfast. Make a fort out of the couch and sleep in it. Make a huge mess during an art project. Stay up past your bedtime watching cartoons. Visit one of those huge trampoline warehouses. Let your inner kid guide you. Let loose and have a little fun. Life doesn't always need to be so serious!
10. Live moments for yourself. Some of my best memories won't be seen by anyone else. I may still have a picture, or I may write about it later, but sometimes you just have to put the phone away and enjoy moments without having to capture the perfect picture to post on social media. Catch up with an old friend. Visit someplace you've always wanted to see. Have a really amazing ice cream cone. And smile knowing that you get to keep those memories to yourself.
11. Listen to the angel on your shoulder. Sometimes it's best to listen to that tiny voice in your head that's telling you to do the right thing. Yeah, yeah, it's the voice that tells you to go for the fruit over the ice cream, or to go to bed early so you feel better in the morning. But there's a reason that voice is there in the first place. Stay one step ahead of your bad habits and tune into that voice. Let it be your friend, not your enemy.
So now for a few fun pictures! This is the reason it's taken me 2 weeks to get this blog post up- I wanted to include my last birthday celebrations which ended this past weekend.
The festivities started before my actual birthday, which fell on a Monday. Killian and I ventured off to Bray, on the east coast of Ireland. We took a train down along the coast from town, which was gorgeous. I would highly recommend checking out my past blog where I did the Bray to Greystones walk because it is stunning. This time around I didn't get many pictures because there have been a ton of fires there this summer, so most of it is crispy.
He picked me wildflowers, we strolled through a local market and ate some of my fave foods (um, hello fried brie and salmon?!), and then walked back along the coast to catch the train home. We even got to see a little otter couple celebrating the day together with some underwater flips! Maximum adorableness.
The next weekend we went to Zip It in Dublin, which is a zip-lining adventure course in the treetops. Basically they strap you into some gear and then you're in charge of getting yourself tree to tree, helmet-less. So far from American. The pictures below were before we got too far up into the trees and before the pouring rain hit and drowned/killed my phone. I could've gotten much better pictures, but it was one of those live in the moment kind of things!
And, of course, best for last. This past weekend we started off with dinner at our fave place (and the place we had our very first date). We had delicious pizzas and calamari. Please note the right picture below. Women don't really order beer in public, and when they do, they drink from glasses not pint glasses. I was brought a glass half the size of Killian's, even though we drank the same beer!
Next was the main event of the night, and my birthday present! Killian took me to Amy Schumer while she was in Dublin. It was her first stop on this new tour. I had so much fun just laughing. It's too easy to get caught up in the stress of life! We had drinks, laughed, and enjoyed the time together. It was absolutely perfect and I loved every second.
While it wasn't explicitly a birthday thing, I'm going to close this off with a few (bad) pictures from this Sunday. We spent the weekend in Laois (middle of Ireland) and enjoyed a lazy walk Sunday afternoon through Emo Court. Again, for more pictures, check out this past blog on Emo. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Mind you, we have not gotten many of those this summer! Check in soon for my Ireland Q&A, and leave any questions you have about living in Ireland or living abroad in the comments below.