As the end of the year approaches, Jessica Carvalho dishes out valuable advice to keep in mind for the next 365 days.

In case you have not noticed, I love sticking my nose into peoples’ business. I’m a writer, and frankly, that’s at least half of the job. I maybe love being nosy just as much as I love to air out my experiences for the world to read, but that is partly because one man’s trash is another one’s treasure. In this case, one awkward experience of mine is another person’s “how to avoid” guide.

However, instead of a story, I have opted for a more forward approach because, honestly, it is what warrants. Plus, I am sure uncalled-for advice from someone you only know through words beats advice from your meddling relatives.

Here are ten things I wish I had been told myself at the beginning of 2021; two handfuls of life lessons I will carry for the rest of my twenties, and you should too. Do not be disheartened by the title should you not fit into the specified age bracket – it is never too early nor too late to learn a thing or two.

1. Celebrate You!

Okay, whilst this one may seem pretty straightforward, it is undoubtedly easier said than done. When the clock strikes midnight, we will have made it to another year, powered through 365 days regardless of how tough they were, and picked ourselves up keeping right on day in day out. Not a lot of people can say that. Making it to the end of a year – physically, mentally, and emotionally – is an impressive feat, and one that should never be overlooked.

2. Nurture your mind.

The first three months of this year had a slightly bleaker vibe than the 2020 lockdowns, further worsened by the gloominess, cold, and general slump that comes running around the corner as soon as it hits the 2nd of January (oh, the things I’d give to back to playing Animal Crossing in my garden in the middle of that one April heatwave).

However, that time reminded me of how easy it is to slip into negative habits in the face of short days and long nights. Make no mistake – I am the number one advocate for Netflix marathons in Greater London but remaining passive and sedentary for an extensive amount of time will do you no good. Recently, I have found that reading provides the perfect escape between lectures and other demands, and I have even re-ignited my love for graphic art lately. Meditation, exercise, cooking, designing, cloud watching – there is something for everyone.

3. Invest in a good pair of shoes.

A slightly less “deep” suggestion, but as we return (somewhat) to normal, I found some of my lockdown impulsive buys were definitely not made for walking. Whatever aesthetic you identify yourself with most – or all of them if you’re like me, a good pair of shoes go a long way. Pun fully intended.

4. Comparison will ruin you.

Another “easier said than done” from me, but if I was to choose my most valuable piece of advice, it would likely be this one. Social media plays a big role in this, almost facilitating the negative emotions that come with comparing yourself to others. We typically only post our happiest moments online, so what we see is just that, the highlights of one’s life.

I finished my undergraduate in June, and throughout the summer it felt like I was thrown into the deep end. Some of my classmates went into medicine; some were travelling the world; some were starting families, and I was focusing on making it through each day without feeling entirely useless. At the time, it almost felt like I was destined to coast through life and simply remain unsure, but now, I am studying for a master’s degree and am focused on having the career I have always dreamed of. Life may come at you fast, but it is not a race. Everything will happen in due time.

5. Live outside of the box.

Whilst the past year has not quite been the same, it does not mean that it has not provided us with plenty of opportunities to try something different. Routine may be great, but every now and then we need to deviate from what we know to shock our systems back to life. This may be a spontaneous week away in Bali for some or to simply order a different cocktail for others; the sentiment still stands. Think, work, eat, and breathe outside of the box.

6. Stay focused, but not too much.

Do not get me wrong, achieving your dreams is remarkable, but you should not maintain tunnel vision to the extent where life passes you by. There are plenty of things in the world we gloss over with our eyes wide open, imagine when we are not looking at all. Though, not all distractions are welcome; for those, you are more than welcome to turn a blind eye.

7. Tell people you love them.

I am incredibly lucky to say I have not experienced grief on a personal level this year, but it does not mean it has not been marked by its fair share of loss on a global scale. We may kid ourselves that we have all the time in the world, but time is fleeting, ticking by mercilessly even when we so desperately wish it would stop. Hug your parents a little longer, laugh a little louder with your siblings, and love unconditionally. One can never be too sure of the time they have with their loved ones, so make the most of it.

8. Take your vitamins.

I am one of the survivors of the super-cold that haunted us at the start of October, and I have to say, it scared me into taking care of myself and strengthening my immune system. It was the sickest I had ever been in my 21 years of life, and I would not wish those feverish, bedridden two weeks on anyone. Getting sick right now is no joke.

Furthermore, I also had Covid at the end of March 2020, and the loss of taste and smell alone was terrifying enough for me to get vaccinated, which you should too. If you feel otherwise, I am afraid all I can say is good luck, and for everybody’s sake, get educated. Sincerely, a biomedical scientist.

9. Sever tangled strings.

I will leave this one mostly up for interpretation, but, if it isn’t serving you, throw it away. I mean the relationships where you find yourself being the one to carry it or the ones that leave you feeling drained. Regardless of the situation, you are worthy of connections that add to your life, rather than take from it. Perhaps a more controversial stance of mine, but this rule applies to family too. Blood may be thicker than water, but it can be cut just as easily as paper.

10. Pats on the back all around.

Though closer to normal than ever, 2021 packed a punch just as mean as its predecessor. The last 52 weeks were a whirlwind, seeing plenty of highs and lows for everybody on this planet. And yet we still made it, so next time, try to be less harsh on yourself and celebrate even the small wins. Some might even say those are sweeter. Give yourself a pat on the back! And after all that was said, I hand it over to you. Wishing you the happiest holiday season and a wonderful new year!

You can find more of Jessica’s work on her Instagram @whatjesstypes.

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