Life in Paris

Ten things I learnt in 2013

2013 was a year of change.

Every year comes with lessons to be learnt and when living in a foreign country those lessons crop up often…so here are a few things I learnt last year.

Number 1.

Positive thinking actually works. One of my older and wiser students taught me this back in 2012 but it wasn’t until mid-2013 that I really started to believe in how much it could change your life. By getting rid of my negativity I successfully got promoted, ended a toxic relationship that had already lasted too long, spent 5 months discovering who I really was, joined the gym, started writing my novel again and last but not least, met a wonderful guy. Life is too short to be negative Nancy, so snap out of it and you’ll see what a difference a day of positive thinking makes.

Number 2.

In France, if you want something done, be French about it, especially when it comes to administrative things. I have tried to take the British approach, to always be polite even in the most difficult situations but I finally realised you just have to be French if you want to accomplish anything. If someone yells at you on the phone, yell back. If someone says no, don’t take no for an answer. If someone says it’s not possible, don’t believe them. If you need to do something and it involves paperwork, just keep pushing until it’s done.

Number 3.

Travel more, it’s good for the soul. Last year I explored the South of France, Florida, Liverpool and London and definitely caught the travel bug. It helps you think, it helps me write and it made me determined to travel more. I have to if I ever want to finish my book…#inspiredbytravelling

Number 4.

Laugh as much as your possibly can. Life can be really hard sometimes so laugh until your stomach hurts or your cheeks ache as often as you can. Surround yourself with those who make you happy, people that give you the giggles and people who make you snort with laughter at the most ridiculous things. Laughter really is the best medicine.

Number 5.

Speaking another language  well is probably one of the best things in the world. When you achieve fluency in a language that’s not your mother tongue it’s such a great feeling. You feel like you’ve been accepted into the it crowd, you finally understand the inside jokes and can respond in the correct way and everyone thinks your accent is so charming – charmant. It completely changes your relationship with Parisians, who are renowned for their cold shoulder. When you speak French Parisians are warmer, friendlier, more interested in you and more willing to help (okay okay so they’re still not as warm as us Brits or Yanks but for them it’s a big step forward). Anyway, speaking the language still opens doors you didn’t even know existed, doors that would otherwise remain closed forever. Learning someone else’s language is the key to acceptance.

Number 6.

Miley Cyrus is not cool. I’m not normally one to focus on celebrity things but Miley’s downfall must have been one of the most talked about celeb stories of 2013. The girl has officially lost the plot. I understand that celebrities are under a huge amount of pressure but Miley takes the biscuit. What would ever possess someone to behave like she did at the VMAs? Sadly it seems to be a pathetic cry for attention, devaluing her status as a woman and establishing her not as a sex symbol (as she believes) but as a complete lunatic. It’s such a shame because she was a beautiful girl with a beautiful voice, now she’s a washed up celebrity that people can only criticise. The sad thing is that she doesn’t realise that there is nothing sexier than a woman who is dignified (and not half naked). Her boyfriend left her because she lost total respect for herself and by doing so became unattractive, inside and out, so can you really blame him? Anyone would have run a mile.

Number 7.

Appreciate your family at all times. I knew this already of course but I was all the more reminded of it last year. When your father has a heart attack (a small one but a heart attack even so) and your grandfather winds up in hospital twice for two different, serious things, you start to realise the men in your life (and the two most important men in mine) are not as invincible as you always thought. Care for them, listen to them, support them, make them a cuppa if they want one. Do everything they did for you and more, it’s your turn to repay the favour.

Number 8.

Find out what makes you happy and do it. People say I’m lucky because I love my job but honestly if I didn’t I’d quit (yes even during the crisis!). Don’t do a job that makes you miserable (even if the pay is good). Be fussy, don’t settle for a job just because you need one, the right job is out there you just have to have the courage to go for it.

Number 9.

Every girl needs a gay best friend. This seems like a weird thing to learn when you’re 24 but when you come from Devon and never had a gay friend before in your life (even when at university), it’s something that takes you a while to realise. Before I worked at Wall Street I’d never had a homosexual colleague or friend, so funnily enough it was quite taboo for me. Now it’s normal, I adore all of my gay friends and don’t find it strange that the majority of the men in our team are gay. In fact it makes my job all the more interesting as we spend a lot of time discussing the men in our lives and I give my opinion on their possible tinder hook ups.

Number 10.

Lastly I have to retract my previous blog (a bit). The most important thing I learnt is that not all French people don’t know how to date. Now I don’t admit this very often but, this time, I was wrong. Shortly after writing my last blog entry I met my now boyfriend and did everything in the blog that I said I wouldn’t do because it was too French. Finally the French might have got it right. I never thought I’d say that but there you go. Yes they do things quickly, which in my blog I criticised, but when it feels right they don’t hesitate, they just go with it. British and American couples have the tendency to stay together for a long time but without becoming official, causing them to question everything. The French we-had-two-dates-so-now-we’re-a-couple attitude is definitely better. You immediately know where you stand and can easily start to enjoy the relationship. Just because you’re British doesn’t mean you have to date like a Brit and just because you’re French doesn’t mean you have to date like a Frog. Try mixing the two dating cultures and maybe, like me, you’ll be happier than ever.

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