Today is 21st October 2015, officially my last ever day being twenty-one and when the clock strikes midnight I'll be another year older, another year wiser! Admittedly writing that sentence made me pause mid-type and start singing the theme tune from The Rugrats: All Grown Up - I still know every single word so maybe I'm not *that* grown up just yet - but hey, I love birthdays and a good reflection so what better than a little look back at what twenty-one was like?
I had such a nice time for my birthday last year - here - and although I definitely didn't get as wild as I maybe thought I would if you'd asked me in my teenage years, twenty-one is quite a 'special' age and I felt so lucky to be surrounded by all of my favourite people. Due to my ill heath it was, again, another year of ups and downs - but it's not like I've ever let that stop me from smiling before and I look back on twenty-one as being a really happy age. I've felt consistently cheerful and content with plenty of lovely memories to see me through those less enjoyable, poorly days.
As I'll never be twenty-one again, I've decided to congratulate myself for five things that I'm proud of myself for at this age. This almost ended up as a 'New Year's resolutions' type blog post, as my original idea was to give myself five things to improve on, sort of like five goals to achieve over the next year until I turn twenty-three. But then I thought, how much time do we spend telling ourselves that we need to do more and do 'better' without first patting ourselves on the back for the things we're currently achieving?
#1 Starting a YouTube channel
This had to be number one as I really am so pleased that I finally took the plunge and Meg Says went from page to film if you like - well done, past self! It goes to show how sometimes you just need to go for it, as it was a huge thing for me - see my first ever video here - and at times I half wondered if I'd ever have the courage to do it. It has to be said, I haven't looked back since and really do love it wholeheartedly.
#2 Putting the 'g' on the end of 'ME'
Since being diagnosed with ME I've often felt like it completely consumes me. I can no longer remember what it's like to be 'healthy', to not be weighed down by crippling fatigue and chronic pain, and that can make it feel like you're losing yourself. At age twenty-one I felt more 'Meg' again and more 'young', which I think is thanks to...
#3 Saying 'yes' more often
Over the years I've had to say 'no' more times than I can count as a result of my ME. 95% of the time it's absolutely not my choice, but that 5% when I might be able to do something if I pushed myself was often a 'no' also as I've been scared of making myself more unwell. Although you have to be sensible when you're chronically ill, I've been actively trying to say 'yes' to more opportunities, fun and laughter. I may experience more payback but I also lead a richer, happier life and yep, I definitely feel more 'me'.
#4 Doing more for others
I can't tell you how joyful it makes me feel when I receive a comment from someone saying that my video has cheered them up on a sad day or an email saying that my story has enabled them to cope with their own chronic illness. I can't imagine how myself posting videos on YouTube could help people - but you guys have assured me that it does, which makes me incredibly motivated to continue. I've been focusing my energy on spreading happiness and being there for people who need it, which in turn has made me a more appreciative and grateful person. It's something I'm certainly going to do continue doing, as well as putting more of my time into charity work.
#5 Carrying on
We all have moments where we feel as if things are too hard. Sometimes I can't see a light at the end of the tunnel with my illness so I have to create my own light. I also tell myself "you got this" - I wrote a whole post on those three little words here - which is a reminder that I've gotten through every difficult day that I thought I couldn't get through before, and I'll do it again. Don't forget to give yourself credit for not giving up in the face of extreme difficulty, it's super duper brave!
Well, what a nice post that was to write, I'd highly recommend it - even if it isn't your birthday until August or you don't have a blog - just make a little list of things you're proud of and give yourself credit where credit's due.
As for turning twenty-two, not only can I hold up my hands in two peace signs whenever someone asks me how old I am but I'll definitely be doing some sort of little jig when it's 22:22pm on the 22nd on my 22nd birthday. I think it's going to be a really fantastic, positive age to be - I've just got this feeling.