As my (dirty) thirties draws ever so close, I’ve been reflecting on the lessons, experiences and adventures I’ve encountered along my way of almost three decades.
Now, I’m neither old nor wise but I do believe I can share few (29) nuggets of wisdom…warning – some are cliched, it sounds pessimistic at times but please bear with me. I am by no means a master of all these – I am very much an early work in progress. But these are the things I am taking into the start of my thirties!
1. It’s ok to ask for help
When you need it, and especially when you think you have it all covered. You don’t. I’m a typical Type A personality – one who has very high (almost impossible) expectations of herself and did not believe in failure and definitely did not believe in asking for help (it was equivalent to failure in my world)… Boy, was I wrong! When everything around you is crumbling and all the balls you’re juggling drop (at around about the same time), just suck up your pride and ego and ask for freaking help. Those you love and support you will ALWAYS be there (for more on this see below).
2. Failure is inevitable. In every area of life.
And it’s ok. It is not the end of the world. It sounds more depressing than it is. We all make bad decisions and mistakes. Sometimes other peoples failures affect you or you are blamed and that happens. Its shitty, no doubt about it and you will want to strangle people to open their eyes to the truth but it happens. Its ok to mope around for a while and “grieve” but definitely not for TOO long. I’ve been down the road of moping around for days and all that did was made me feel worse…I know its the worst thing in the world to hear someone tell you to “suck it up, and move on”. But there will be that little voice in your head that eventually picks you up.
3. In tough times (literally and figuratively), you learn who has your back and who doesn’t.
I’ve had a few “rough” patches in my life (rough being an understatement). They all occurred at different stages in my life, and for different reasons. The common thread? My family who bent over backwards for me. My best friends who checked in constantly. When I needed to cry and they didn’t know what to do or say, they sat down and cried with me. The phone calls, messages, brunches and hikes with amazing people having deep meaningful conversations…. Thats love and support and care. its rare. I know these are the people who will drop anything for me, and I for them. THEY are your family – in my case I am lucky to share DNA with some of them…others are amazing friends who mean the world to me and I could not live without. They are also the people to call you out on your shit. Not fun, in the moment but you will thank them. These are the people that are always honest with you – even when it hurts because they love and support you too much to have you being fooled by a lie. These people are my rocks. And I thanked each and every one right before I posted this.
I used to think I had a lot of friends – yeah, I was wrong. Most people are honestly just “window dressing” – with you cos you’re the flavour of the month and well, they use you in a manner of speaking. I know, lately I’ve asked for help (go me!) and they, well, ignored me. See, I’m a “giver” and I’ve met far too many people who “take advantage of that”.
4. Work is a big part of life. If work is killing you, leave.
There’s a saying that goes something like “if you do something you love, you will never have to work a day in your life”. My first foray into the working world came late in my life. It was fun, exciting and new – very different to my studies. And then, it became boring. The “same shit, different day” saying applied to my life in more ways than one. You could say it ate away at my core being – I was doubting myself, made to feel incompetent, being blamed, unhealthy, not sleeping and became depressed to the point of understanding why some people commit suicide.
There will be politics at every job you have. But take away the politics…..do you like what you do? Is it what you want?
There is no money in the world that will make you feel like you are contributing to the world, make you be able to sleep peacefully at night. For me, I need to help people and make a valuable contribution to the world — diagnostics and research is my niche. Find yours.
5. There is no person, no material item, no amount of money that has the ability to impact YOUR happiness…only YOU do that.
I’m still learning this one. I’m pretty sensitive and take everything personally. Yet as I grow older I learn to like myself more and stick up for myself more. Its damn hard, but you learn a little bit every day. Money can never buy real happiness, love or relationships. Yes it can buy things that give fleeting happiness – but not the real wake-up-with-a-smile-on-your-face happy.
6. Sometimes people suck and your faith in humanity is tested. They lie, disappoint you, crush your soul, blame you, try to make you look like the bad guy.
In these times, go to your proverbial rocks. As Dr Seuss once wrote “Those you matter don’t mind, and those you mind don’t matter.”
7. If you like cheesy pop music, own it.
Theres a good chance the majority of the world does too (even though you are mocked for it) – how else would those songs/bands/artists make so much money?
8. Have no regrets.
Sometimes this is not in your control.There is a popular saying “When one door closes, get a hammer and nail it shut.” I don’t really believe that. Try with all of you to resurrect/save something. If all else fails, and you know you have tried everything – then you will have no regrets. Life is neither black nor white; there is an array in shades of grey. Explore the shades of grey before you shut the door for good.
Its good for you. I hate it – I dread going to my classes. But I know it gets the endorphins going…and makes me feel good about myself – I definitely have less anxiety after a tough class (and I can get to let out my frustration without hurting people, which is always a good thing!).
10. People you love will die, or leave.
I have been privileged to spend the majority of my life to date with three of my four grandparents. The first “close” death i experienced was at 16, with my maternal grandfather. My uncle then passed away unexpectedly, when i was 27, and my paternal gran six months later. Don’t waste time – tell your loved ones you love them. Don’t sit on your phone while having a conversation with anyone, be present and in the moment with them. Make time for them. A phone call, a visit.
Yes, even the most cynical’s person vote counts. In some countries women are not ALLOWED to vote.
12. Travel with loved ones and alone and maybe live in a country for a while
Far and wide, within your own country, down the street. It broadens your horizon.
13. Live alone
It made me independent and self-sufficient. It makes you grow up pretty damn fast!! Even though I do still have my rants on the phone to my mom!
14. Be grateful – take nothing for granted
It can disappear in a heartbeat.
15. Take care of your health
Physical, mental, emotional health. They are all equally important. When one takes a dive, the other two are sure to follow. Look after yourself: get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, take time for yourself to relax. Sometimes all you need is a victory to lift your spirits… for me that was conquering Lion’s Head – at a time when I felt lost, disheartened and was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
16. Over-thinking is a bitch
I overthink everything. And it never works out. I go through a hundred different scenarios in my brain – a waste of brain power and cause of worry and stress.
17. Be a kid again
My nephew shows me a whole new world – his stories, imagination and antics never fail to bring a smile to my face. Have fun. Don get so caught up in life and work that you forget to live a little.
18. You don’t always get what you want
And you have to live with it. Maybe in the long run you’ll get something better. Maybe you won’t. That life. Unfair.
19. Go to therapy of some kind
We all need an objective view about something or the other in our lives. Especially with HUGE decisions. It can only help you – even if it just gives you a new perspective.
20. Have an open mind
You’ll learn more and view things from someone else’s shoes. It is make you a more polished person. And who knows, maybe introduce you to something you did not know you were passionate about.
21. Yet never take anything at face value… Have an opinion and thoughts of your own
Be curious. Ask questions. Google it. When you have all the information you can or want, then you can make an informed decision.
22. Never stop learning and read often
Whatever, whenever. Don’t be a close minded fool. Be open to new perspectives and ideas.
23. Be a nice person
24. Say no
Don’t think you have to please everyone all the time. Say no. As a people pleaser, I’m downright rubbish at this!
25. Live in the present
Put down the technological device. Try to have conversation with someone without being distracted by a text/tweet/facebook post.
26. Save money
You never know when there will be a rainy day.
27. Find something – a phrase, breathing exercise, meditation – that can calm you down when life gets shitty
You’ll need it. Find something you can do anywhere, anytime.
29. Make time to dance everyday. Even if just for one song.
In your room/house/work, while driving (I’ve mastered that skill!)/cleaning.