35 Lessons I’ve Learned in 35 Years
It’s official. I am in my “mid-thirties”. Yikes! On birthdays and New Years I always find myself reflecting on what I’ve learned, what I’m grateful for and what’s next. If you know me, you know that I love lists like a fat kid likes chocolate (inappropriate nutritionist humour). So I decided to make a list of 35 life lessons I have learned in the 35 years I have been on the planet.
- You can only be you. If you try to be someone else, or the “cooler” version of you, you will end up a mere shadow of your awesome self. You are doing a disservice to yourself and to others who would much rather be with the 100% original, unadulterated and shiny version of you than the “emo”, “cool”, “fashionable”, “indifferent” version of you. There is only one of you. No one else can be you better than yourself! So JUST BE YOU.
- Find your tribe. The more comfortable you are with being yourself, the more you will find yourself surrounded by people that like you just the way you are (because you like yourself just the way you are- aha!).
- Don’t be attached to your tribe. Your tribe will morph, shape-shift and evolve just like you will over the course of your life. This means friends may drift away. Some will stay. That’s ok. Love the ones in your life. Bless the ones that move on.
- Change is the only constant. Seriously.
- Everything is temporary. Whatever you are going through right now, it will pass and become a distant memory. If you’re in love, savour every moment. If you are grieving for a loved one, know that one day your heart won’t hurt this much anymore.
- Learn to love your own company. Get comfortable with just being with yourself. If you can’t just BE with yourself and your thoughts and need to constantly distract yourself, think about what emotions you are trying to numb or run away from.
- Travelling morphs your concept of “home”. In a good way.
- Travelling alone reintroduces you to yourself. You unlearn what’s expected of you and you relearn what matters to you.
- Travelling with others let’s you peek into parts of their personalities that even they aren’t aware of. What a privilege that is!
- Fresh air, a walk, a jog or an impromptu dance party can turn a bad day around. I just need to remember this more often!
- Sometimes you just need a good cry.
- Everyone should learn how to manage their stress. Mindfulness and meditation have really helped me. Figure out what triggers your emotions and what activities help you relax the most. Incorporate those activities into your daily life. For me it’s meditation and exercise. If I skip one or both for several days, I turn into a crazy B!
- Good friends say it like it is, even when you are lying to yourself. Listen to those people. Take their advice seriously.
- Go with the flow. Sometimes the most unplanned, random evenings with friends are the most memorable.
- Good makeup can make the difference between looking like a clown or looking like a more elegant, well-groomed version of yourself. Learn what colors work with your skin tone. Also learn the clothing styles and cuts that flatter your body. Wear them more often.
- How you feel about yourself will reflect in the relationships around you. In fact, how you feel about yourself will dictate 90% of what is happening in your life. If you don’t love yourself, no one else can truly love you either. If you put yourself last, prepare for that pattern to be repeated in your relationships with family, friends and lovers.
- “I don’t have time” is the worst cop-out, ever. We all do it. We all lie to ourselves and others and make excuses for why we can’t go to the gym or eat healthy. But God forbid we miss the latest episode of Game of Thrones. It’s all about priorities, not time. I am still shit at this from time to time, but it’s about progress not perfection.
- If you don’t plan for it, it won’t happen. Small tasks, big goals – they will all be left undone if you don’t schedule them into your life.
- Over-planning sucks the energy out of you. The key to productivity is finding the right balance between over-planning and leaving room for creativity. Over-planning is my default setting and it stresses me out. I’ve learned that I can effectively tackle 3-5 big tasks a day. The more realistic I am with my time and how long everything will *actually* take, the more I feel at ease at the end of the day instead of beating myself up for not “doing enough”.
- Don’t let the “urgent” items take up all the precious space in your brain. The to-do list is never-ending, literally. It’s about prioritizing not just the “urgent” items on your list but also the items that advance your career, help you get better at your craft, let you be creative and push along your long term projects (eg: writing a chapter a week for your book).
- Life is unpredictable. Most of us didn’t end up doing what we aspired as kids. I didn’t become a race car driver (Damn you Danica Patrick for beating me to it!). However, where you end up is usually the result of a wonderful meandering path that our lives take. Have aspirations and goals but don’t be too attached to them. Don’t dig your heels in so firmly that your feet can’t follow new opportunities that the universe is sending your way. Embrace the delicious rollercoaster ride that is life.
- Love the shit out of people who’ve always been there for you, for they may not always be around. Tell them how much you appreciate them, and do it often.
- What matters the most is what we say to ourselves when we are alone. Our internal dialogue tints all of our experiences. If you think you are worthy, then you are. If you think you will amount to nothing, then it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We would never talk to a loved one like we talk to ourselves. So quit it!
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Playing the highlights reel of your life’s mistakes is never going to do you any good. We all make decisions based on what we think is right, at that moment, with the the information at hand. Forgive yourself and others. Learn the lesson and move on.
- Fresh flowers are worth every penny.
- Your body is a literal reflection of what you eat, your thoughts and your ability to manage stress. I’ve seen 30-year olds that look 45 and 50-year olds that don’t look a day over 35. It’s not just about the genes your parents gave you, it’s what you do with them. When you eat junk, you feel like crap. That’s not a coincidence.
- Your body can heal itself. I’ve seen my own body fight chronic, debilitating infections simply by changing the diet. The human body is the world’s most phenomenal machine. When given the right nourishment, it can reverse most diseases.
- Eat chocolate. Or ice cream. Or cake. Once a while. Don’t deprive yourself of life’s simple pleasures.
- Be a student for life. I got two *very* different degrees in university and then went back to school in 2010 to become a nutritionist. Recently, I added ‘hypnotherapist’ to my qualifications. Whether the education was in a classroom, through books or life experiences, having the mindset of a student has helped me constantly expand my knowledge and keep an open mind to new ideas.
- Your 30’s are better than your 20’s. You’re more comfortable in your skin. You don’t care as much about what other people think. It’s awesome!
- Parents are amazing human beings. They will literally do anything for their kids and stand by them when it matters most.
- Female friendships will outlast most other relationships. I’m so lucky to have witty, caring and intelligent women in my life that have always supported me. They have been there through all the shitty breakups, work promotions and random “I just need some wine and cake” nights.
- Unequal relationships = unhealthy relationships. You know that friend that you always make the effort for and she never reciprocates? Or the friend that always cries on your shoulder but disappears into the mist when you need him? Or the partner who is happy to receive your love but stingy with his affection and support? Reevaluate those unequal connections. Always put in what is earned, not what you want reciprocated.
- Laugh at yourself. I’m slowly learning to appreciate this. The less seriously I take myself, the easier life gets.
- Nothing rocks more than laughing until you cry. Some of the best memories of my life involve being in stitches, on the floor, laughing uncontrollably.
There you have it! I am ready to reluctantly call myself a “grown-up” and face my adult years with theses lessons in hand.
PS- Hopefully I will learn 5 new lessons in the next 5 years and post them here as an addendum when I turn the big 4-0! YIKES!