With my 30th birthday being last week, I am grateful for the personal growth I’ve experienced in the last 20+ years. I gave myself a reflective homework assignment of 30 life lessons that have helped shape the person I am today.
*Note: the below lessons are from my point of view. I do not mean any disrespect and/or judgment as these are my personal feelings and experiences*
1. No one has it all.
Perfection does not exist – regardless of it appearing to look that way. No one can have the perfect spouse, house, job, kids, car, character, body and personal relationships. Life doesn’t work that way! Even though sometimes looks can be deceiving, we don’t see everything; especially what happens behind closed doors. (And don’t you agree how incredibly BORING it would be if everyone all lived perfect lives?)
2. Some friendships will end.
This was one of the hardest lessons to learn, which really broke my heart. Sadly, I’ve experienced it more than once. Some friends walk into our lives for a reason – to teach us something ‘key’ and then they are gone. I’ve lost friendships that were so toxic, I could barely breathe. Occasionally, I still miss certain qualities about them, but ultimately it was healthier (for both parties) to discontinue the friendship. I truly wish these people nothing but the best – while understanding the harsh reality that not everyone who enters your life is meant to stay.
3. Balance is key.
*In my opinion*
Being lazy and laying around the house all the time, is unhealthy. Working out to the point of exhaustion 7 days/week, is unhealthy. Going out with friends every single night, is unhealthy. Rarely leaving the house, is unhealthy. Working late at the office every night, is unhealthy. Do you where I’m going with this?
Living and breathing one thing all the time, is unhealthy.
I’ve learned to exercise regularly for my overall health, but not 24/7. Enjoy relaxation, while refraining from overindulgence to the point of becoming a starfish. Visit with friends, while working hard at the office too. Enjoy 1-2 pieces of candy versus 15. Balance is healthy and a key to happiness.
4. Age is just a number.
At the fresh age of 21, my girlfriends couldn’t stand how I preferred to ‘grab dinner and talk’ versus going out to the clubs. They would constantly remind me ‘we are only young for so long so let’s make the best of it.’ No, thank you – can we please go to Panera and talk about life? To this day (at 30), I am still an old lady at heart that prefers to stay in my cozy home 🙂
Colby is younger than me by 8 years. When we first met, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that his maturity level ran parallel with mine. Our age difference hasn’t been an issue for us. We are both old souls and feel equal, regardless of what year we were born.
5. Growth occurs outside of our comfort zone.
Staying inside our comfort zone is a cozy and familiar place, isn’t it? I love it there 🙂 But I’ve experienced feelings of pride and excitement when I push myself. Running as a form of exercise was uncomfortable for me in the beginning.. and now I love it. In my professional life, I’ve recently started presenting cases at Small Claims in front of judges – and have won most of them! I still get uncomfortable during these situations. But every single time, I grow stronger and more confident of the woman I am today.
6. Introvert & Self Respect.
Being an introvert is a pain for my family and friends. I need time alone, I’m not a big talker and I am incredibly private. Recharging my battery after social interactions is a must. I prefer advanced notice. If I don’t respect who I am as an introvert, my demeanor will diminish quickly. Below is my favorite quote about introverts, which ironically fits me to a T.
“Yes, I’m an introvert. No, I’m not shy. No, I’m not antisocial. I’m just listening. I’m just observing. I can’t stand small talk, but I’ll talk about life for hours. I’d rather be at home with a close friend or two than among a big crowd of acquaintances. Don’t scold or embarrass me in public. Respect that I’m reserved. And if I open myself up to you, know that means you’re very special to me.”
Respecting ourselves is key to helping us become better people all around.
Cover Your Ass in the workplace. Document e-mails sent, follow up and make sure the ball is in their court. There will be typos and errors, which is human. Do research to know the task at hand. Get to bed early, work hard and be thankful for our jobs.
8. Have a backbone.
5+ years ago, I was sweet as pie. I would do what was asked of me with a smile on my face and rarely said no. And the world walked all over me.
Today, I am kind. I do what is asked of me with a positive attitude. Today, I am able to say ‘No’ when needed. I (respectfully) stick up for myself because I grew a backbone.
“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.”
9. Patience takes practice.
I get frustrated with myself on a daily basis for feeling impatient. Why am I in such a hurry? Feeling productive and accomplished at the end of the day is a daily goal of mine. Rushing to get things done to check off the next task is my game, which often leaves me stressed out. I need to be better about reminding myself to slow down and be patient.
10. Express anger colors then take time solo.
Saying hurtful things we don’t mean can occur when we are upset or angry. C and I have found it helpful to simply say the color “Yellow, Orange” or “Red” as our level of frustration increases. If one states the color “Red,” we will temporarily take a break to cool down separately. This has helped us in those situations when we are upset.
11. Mistakes will be made. Forgive.
Holding onto grudges only poison us internally. People will offend, hurt, judge and deceive us. These people will be strangers and our loved ones. Forgive them; even if they never apologize.
12. Be the space for this moment.
We can quickly find inner peace (in a stressful situation) by asking ourselves if we can be the space for this moment. Try to run parallel with the space and air of our current surroundings. It’s not easy, but it’s possible and will bring peace.
13. People will always remember how we made them feel.
They will forget what we said. They will forget what we did. But they will always remember how we made them feel.
14. Inner peace speaks louder than our words.
Have you ever been in a conversation with another person who promises they are fine yet their body language screams the opposite? I’ve been on both sides of that equation – both viewing that person and being her, too. I’ve learned people are a lot smarter than just hearing our words. When our words don’t match our demeanor, others will notice. If we are upset, we should admit it (respectfully) rather than hide it when its so blatantly obvious. Admitting doesn’t mean we have to talk about it, but at least its not blowing smoke.
15. Just keep swimming.
This one is self-explanatory; life is hard, but keep going 🙂 My life hasn’t been a cake-walk – at times I thought I’d never get out of the dark rabbit hole I had fallen into. But I kept the faith, remained positive and eventually felt happy again. Everyone has rough patches they will endure at one point or another in their lifetime. Brace the storm in order to see and appreciate the rainbow. Wow that actually sounded really corny, but I found it to be true 🙂
16. Admit when we are wrong.
Ego, ego – calling all egos! This one is huge and goes far with almost anyone with a beating heart. If we mess up, we need to admit it. Hiding behind our ego is not the answer. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but if we place our pride aside and grab some water, its bearable and doable.
17. Apologize when necessary.
I am sorry. It’s one of the hardest phrases for a lot of individuals. This lesson goes hand in hand with #16 of admitting when we are wrong. It’s the right thing to do when we know someone is hurt and its our fault 😦
18. Speak sweeter and with kindness.
I know we all have those moments where we’ve ‘word vomited’ all over someone. Taking the time to speak nicely (when you don’t feel nice inside) is key. It shows you have respect for them and maturity.
19. Be grateful for our blessings.
Counting my blessings as often as possible has made my heart happier, healthier and lighter 🙂 Being grateful has given me even more blessings than I could ever ask for.
20. All pain is temporary.
It won’t last, I promise!! Therefore, just keep swimming with #15 😉
21. Go to bed early.
It’s not only getting more sleep, but it’s getting ready for bed earlier than you normally would. Every night, I have an alarm go of at 9pm. It says ‘Get ready for bed!’ AND I listen to it 😉 95% of the time I am in bed winding down by 9:30pm. It’s been a helpful assistant with getting up earlier in the morning.
22. Exercise 30 minutes each day.
When my doctor prescribed ‘exercising daily’ to help with my anxiety, I almost fell over. I kept wondering who possibly has time to exercise every single day while working full time? Even struggling with grasping this thought, I decided to suck it up and try it.
Since mid-June, I’ve been doing something active for 30 minutes/day. Am I pushing myself into a dripping, exhausting sweat session each day? No. Am I moving my body and increasing my heart rate? Yes. It has honestly helped my mental, physical and emotional state of well-being. I am thankful I gave it a chance. Our bodies are meant to move and be active, people!
23. Others will judge us without knowing us *or* the whole story.
Judgment sucks balls – most individuals hate being judged. Every single person on Earth is guilty of it (whether they realize it or not). Judgment hurts & it is negative, but it will happen. It is a part of life that we just need to accept.
I’m still trying to figure out what the different is between an honest opinion vs. unfair judgment. If my honest opinion is hurtful, is that still judgment? Are opinions silent while judgments are verbal? I obviously am still confused about this concept. Ultimately, I think if when we catch ourselves being judgmental and make the decision to stop, we are half way there.
24. We are all equals.
Money, job status and looks can often make others feel like they don’t measure up. I’ve felt that way on a number of occasions. But within the past few years, I’ve grown to learn its all how you treat people. RESPECT. Just because you have more money than us, doesn’t make you a better person all around. You served our country and we sincerely thank you for your service! (But that doesn’t mean you get to treat us like dirt.) We are all equal humans experiencing different aspects of life. We are not better than you and you are not better than us. We are equals.
25. Find and/ or build our oasis.
I didn’t appreciate this lesson until I realized what calms me… and then I built from there. I need cozy, dark and quiet rooms to decompress after a long day. Add some peppermint/eucalyptus candles with jazz music playing in the background. Viola! My dream oasis.
At home, this is 100% our bedroom. At work, we painted the walls deep brown. I have a fountain that trickles water to ensure a calming effect. Bringing in my oil diffuser and iPad was perfect for the scents and jazz music. Obviously, I still get stressed at work but these contributions are incredibly helpful for my overall well-being.
26. Find 3 hobbies we love
- One to keep us in shape – obviously running 🙂
- One to be creative – this blog
- & One to make us money – still searching/thinking of this one 🙂
27. Making everyone happy is a recipe to make us unhappy.
I used to be a “Yes” person. I used to tell people what they wanted to hear in fear of hurting their feelings. My wall was so high that no one knew my true feelings. I’ve always preferred and appreciated a sense of privacy, but it got to a point where I was running empty while keeping my family/friends tanks full. While making other people happy is good, its not a requirement to do it 24/7. Again, balance #3.
28. Say anything we truly feel, just watch our tone & delivery.
I’d rather you hurt me with the truth than comfort me with a lie. Honesty is important to me. I’ve learned we can truthfully express our feelings by making sure our delivery is respectful. It takes some patience and filtering on our part, but its worth it.
29. If God brought us to it, he will bring us through it.
God can’t give us anything we can’t handle. A couple years ago, I went through an incredibly dark time in my life that I never thought I would live through. Each day was a struggle for me just to face the day. Keeping positivity in my life was essential. I look back on how broken I was – yet I am still thankful for that thunder stormed journey. It made me who I am today.
30. Just breathe.
When it seems like life is too much to handle, close those eyes and breathe.