10 lessons I’ve learnt in 20 years

In a few days I’ll be turning twenty.

I’m considering this birthday quite a big deal because it marks my final farewell from teenage hood. The idea of being twenty years old both excites me and terrifies me. I really have no idea what to expect.

In an effort to distract myself from an existential crisis I’ve compiled a list of:

10 things I’ve learnt in 20 years

I would have made a list of twenty things, but I honestly had difficulty and could only think of ten. Hopefully I’ll learn another ten in the next ten years!
  1. Getting a seat on the luas/ bus during rush hour will be your small victory of the day.
  2. There’s no point wishing things turned out differently, you wouldn’t be who you are right now if they did.
  3. Mocha’s (or your coffee of preference) will get you through the day
  4. People can be very mean . They’ll ridicule you, belittle you, put you down and question you. But their actions will make you learn to empathise with others better and it will make you stronger in the long run.
  5. The sea is the best way to centre yourself.
  6. Say yes to opportunities more often, even though your first instinct is always to say no (you’re still having trouble doing
  7. Being called weird or different isn’t an insult
  8. You can only do so much to help people but after a while it’s up to them to help themselves.
  9.  The perfect pancake takes practice
  10. The world can be really horrible so try and hold on to your innocence and naivety for as long as you can. Never try and rely on cynicism and appreciate people who make an effort to see the world .


Is there any particular life lesson that you’ve learned over the years?

Having a job while in college

This year I made the decision to take on a job while studying in college.

I’m very fortunate that I work enough during the summer in my very busy and my very touristy hometown that I can afford to fund my way through a year of college. (I am also extremely fortunate that my parents pay my fees and my rent, so they money I have is spent on food and everything else in between).

So during my first year of college I had no work and quite a lot of free time. I would look at my friends who were holding down a full time job while meeting deadlines in complete awe at how they managed to juggle it all.

I started second year excited for the oncoming year, but by Christmas college was boring me and everything felt like a bit of a repeat of first year without the glossy touch. By January rolled around I knew I needed a new challenge in my life.

After some deliberation I realised that starting a job in Dublin could be the change I was looking for. I was lucky enough that the company I work for in my hometown is also based in Dublin and I was able to secure hours up there.

Though this wasn’t originally how I planned things to go. My ambition was to find a job in Dublin with a bookshop or something similar that would be relevant to my course; but after handing out my CV’s to numerous businesses and hearing nothing back I decided for now, I should take advantage of what I have and stick with a job I could continue with up here.

One thing that I was certain about, was that this would be only a part time job and that college would always come first.

If you’re thinking of getting a job while in college I think the biggest piece of advice I can give to you is time management. Though I don’t do a crazy amount of hours a week, I still need to watch how I use my time and what pieces of college work I need to prioritise.

But it’s all worth it when Thursday rolls around and my wages land in to my bank account!

Having the opportunity to make an extra bit of money has given me the chance to save more. I’m always trying to look at the bigger picture, and I know at some stage in my life I’ll want to travel for a year or invest in a car, and I think now, when I don’t have a lot of commitments such as paying my own rent etc it’s the perfect time to save.

Working in a different shop that I’m not used to also allowed me to prove to myself that I have the capability to adjust to alternative environments. When I first started working up here, the idea of working somewhere different for the first time after three years was very daunting!

For me, I see working in Dublin as the gradual transition of me moving up here full time, which I see happening as part of my career eventually.

Though I know reading over this, working a few hours in Dublin doesn’t sound like a massive achievement, but for me the move was quite scary but also exciting because it’s another anchor securing itself in the soil of Dublin and tying me down with it.

Do you/ did you have a job while you were attending college?

How did you find it? Let me know below!




My Relationship with Alcohol

During the past year I’ve seen this discussion floating around the internet and it’s led to me thinking more about my mindset with alcohol.

To start off with, I do drink.

I was what some people would call a late starter to the whole drinking scene, and I didn’t have my first proper drink until I was seventeen during a work party. It was the one and only drink I had that night, and I went home feeling giddy and happy.

Even nowadays I don’t drink an awful lot. I never had the wild teenage years where I’d pre drink at friends house, sneak naggins into nightclubs or get sick in the taxi home. Do I think I missed out? No. I think if any of those scenarios had happened I would have hated it. I’ve only begun to enjoy drinking recently and that’s because I do it with people I feel comfortable with.

Some of my best memories have been when I’ve been drinking. Getting tipsy with my friends in my local pub, falling into a deep conversation with my friend in the smoking area or pulling my friends on to the dance floor to an over played pop song.

I drink for two reasons:

I drink because it gets me drunk. Typing that out makes me sound like I have issues, but let me put it into more context. Friends after college may enthusiastically suggest a few cocktails and I decline.What’s the point in buying two cocktails for twelve euro at five o’ clock in the day when I’ll just be going home afterwards. It’s expensive and I’m not getting the buzz.

I also drink because I feel awkward if I’m with a group of people and I’m the only one not drinking. That sounds like peer pressure but I don’t feel any pressure to do it, I just prefer not to be the only one sober.

I suppose these reasons sound like I have an unhealthy mindset but I think this is the way society portrays the way we treat drink and I’ll admit I’ve been conditioned to think this way.

But at the same time alcohol isn’t effecting my life negatively so feeling this way towards drink doesn’t bother me.

Though I sometimes do panic that I don’t go out enough compared to other students my age. I’m told that college is the best years of my life and I’ll regret it when I’m older that I didn’t take advantage and get drunk more often. But in these moments I remember what my (very wise) friend once told me.

“You’ve been worrying that you don’t go out enough since you were fifteen. Going out and getting drunk all the time isn’t you and you shouldn’t feel ashamed to do that. If going for lunches or coffee dates is how you socialise that is completely fine. You shouldn’t constantly put this pressure on yourself to socialise in a situation that you don’t enjoy all that much”.

So there you have it, I have a pretty stable relationship with drink, but it’s not 100% positive all the same.

Can you relate? What’s your relationship with alcohol?

What Impact does Alcohol have on Relationships?

This year I entered Drugs.ie  “Let’s Talk about Drugs” National Youth Media Awards Competition 2017. Below is my submitted entry if you care to give it a read.

“Stay away from drugs”

This is told to us all from a young age. Yet when it comes to alcohol, the most commonly used drug of them all, the message is far more relaxed. Made up of water and distilled ethanol (ethylalcohol) and produced by means of fermenting grain, fruit or vegetables; it can effect parts of the brain that control movement, speech, judgement and memory. Alcohol is also the most socially acceptable drug to take in society, especially amongst friends and family. It’s used by many to bring people together. Be it celebrating the end of your exams, sharing a bottle of wine on a first date or having a drink with your family during an overdue reunion.

In moderation and treated sensibly drinking can be a fun and relaxed way to socialise with other people. But it’s when the drug is abused that it can cause problems. It’s the reason you have to end your night short because your friend is too drunk and needs a taxi home; it can also be the thing that caused a family fight over Christmas because too much drink gave a certain relative a loose tongue. It’s why you wake up in a cold sweat in the morning because you don’t remember what you said to people the night before.

Often the case is that many people are dependent on alcohol; with the Journal.ie reporting that in Ireland during December last year 4,000 prescriptions were made in the last two years for the drug Nalmefene, which is designed to help alcohol-dependent people give up alcohol. Out of this figure 3,854 requests were made for the drug.

Sometimes without realising it, we become dependent on drinking as a way of interacting with others. Emma, 19 a student in NUIG found this was how she felt and decided last year that she wanted to give up drinking and experience social events without feeling like she needed the crutch of alcohol.

“I decided to quit drinking after an awful night out where I drank too much; after a month of this I realised I actually missed drinking when I was with my friends. I had been using it as a way to fit in and not worry while socializing. That was the main factor behind me embracing the idea to quit altogether, because I didn’t want anything affecting or manipulating my fun”, Emma explains.

Making the decision to abstain from drinking opened Emma’s eyes to how some people rely on drink in social situations with their friends and without it, their own discomfort can quickly be revealed.

“Nights out were a bit odd at first, I did feel left out. From people ordering fancy cocktails to slamming shots and going to dance, I felt side-lined. I was the ‘girl in the corner with the pint glass of water’. A few people have commented their misgivings about me not drinking. One night out I had a co-worker say to me, ‘but how do you not drink?! You must feel so awkward being here right now’. It’s these times though that remind me I’m not the one uncomfortable being sober with drunk friends, they are.”

Like Emma every year many people make the choice to cut down on their alcohol intake. This can sometimes be down to their partners being concerned about their drinking, with Drink Aware reporting that 26% of women and 21% of men are worried about the effects of alcohol on their partner’s health. Drinking doesn’t always have to have a bad effect on relationships though, once both sides show consideration for each other. This is the case for Jasmine Eldred, 23 and an ever-so-often drinker and her boyfriend Richard who has never drank.

“I don’t think it’s a problem at all in our relationship that one drinks and the other doesn’t as I am not a huge drinker. Richard isn’t too fussed by my drinking either. He doesn’t drink simply because he doesn’t like the taste of alcohol,” says Jasmine. “I think for us as a couple our ways of socialising are centred around the outdoors instead of the pub. Sometimes we as people tend to base our experience around the drink, instead of the people and conversations that are happening around you. I think in a way it makes him the better socializer as he’s 100% focused of what’s happening around him!”

Emma and Jasmine are examples of how their drinking doesn’t get in the way of their relationships. Drinking amongst your peers and other significant people in your life isn’t a problem. It’s when alcohol becomes an important factor in these connections that it may be time to revaluate how you treat the substance. Maybe it’s time we rethink the way we interact with others and begin to wonder if the veil of alcohol induced moments was lifted would the relationship be the same?





  • Personal Interviews: Emma Horgan and Jasmine Eldred