Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The 10 Most Important Lessons I Learned Before My 30th Birthday

Earlier this week I described my twenties as a period of tumultuous transition. And I very much stand by that statement. But they were also a period of profound personal growth. 

I celebrated my 20th birthday in the midst of an existential crisis. I spent the day curled up with a bowl of ice cream, crying, while watching Winnie the Pooh, and wondering what it all meant. I remember feeling like my childhood was over and I didn't have any of the necessary answers to face this big bad world as an adult.

So on the eve of my 30th birthday, I am struck by how different I feel facing this new chapter. I still don't have all the answers. But I am comfortable enough with the person that I am, to know that I don't need them. 

I have learned some important lessons about  - myself, the person that I want to be, life, and the journey that I am on - to feel ready for whatever comes next. These are the 10 most important lessons I learned before my 30th birthday.

1. Your health is your most valuable asset.
The truth is, without your health, you have nothing. It is a reality I have faced many times over in my 20's. And it was just as profound the last time, as it was the first. So appreciate, nurture, and protect it.

2. Love is one of life's most beautiful gifts.
Very few people would describe me as a lucky girl. But I have been lucky in love. I found that genuine, unwavering, amazing kind of love. I had found my safe place to fall. I had found my perfect place to grow. I created a place where I could love and be loved whole-heartedly and unconditionally. And I often find myself wondering what I have done to deserve all of this.

It truly is one of life's most beautiful gifts. So if you find it - hold on to it, fight for it, and cherish every second of it.

3. You can't please everyone.
I assure you, I have tried. I have long been a people-pleaser by nature, but as I enter my 30's, I have learned that it is impossible to do so. And that is okay. If you do the best you can, likely you will please a LOT of people along way. And the criticism of those you don't, will matter less.

I have learned that the more you love the person you are and the decisions you make, the less you need others to love them. So speak up, assert yourself, demand respect, and stay true to you.

4. People often mistake kindness for weakness, but it requires a lot more strength to be kind.
The world is a hard place. And many people walk around with a chip on their shoulder. So it often confuses those people when despite it all you chose to be happy. It would be easy to let the darkness swallow you up, but you are stronger than that.

5. You won't always get what you want.
No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don't work out the way you want them to. We all have expectations. We all have an idea in our heads of how our life is "supposed" to be. But sometimes those very expectations can hinder us from seeing what is already right in front of us.

Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we change our minds. But we always end up where we were meant to be.

6. Cherish the simple things
There are monumental moments in life - those are the moments you remember and the moments that will shape you. But it is the beautiful simplicity of the days in between that need to be cherished.

Those quiet moments when you fall asleep next to your husband. Those days you get a parking spot right next to the entrance. That instant when the sunlight hits the window just-so. Those moments where your heart is peaceful and a smile creeps across your face. Those are the moments. Those are the moment I will try to live for.

7. Perfection is Overrated.
Perfection and nothing less - was what I hoped and strived for in my 20s. Today I have come to realize that some of my best qualities stem from less than perfect circumstances. And the things that make me, well me, are all of my scars, battle wounds, and perfectly imperfect parts. To be honest, those are probably the parts I love best. (*a far cry from the girl who picked her wedding dress solely based on the style most likely to hide her scars*)

You can always strive for progress, but perfection is overrated. Embrace what make you - YOU. Chose to honor yourself - mind, body, and spirit. You are worth it.

8. Honesty is profoundly important.
Especially with yourself. It sounds simple, but it is actually incredibly difficult. It is hard to be honest about your actions, your motivations, your mistakes, and your short-comings. It is hard to be that critical, so sometimes a proper sounding board is required to reach said honesty. ("Hi Hunny") But that honesty is critical - because it helps you grow.

9. Life is short - take nothing for granted.
It is a hard lesson to learn, but it may be one of the most important. Life can change in an instant. Take time to appreciate what you have while you still have it.

I admit to being guilty of living in the future - thinking about the next day, the next week, the next 5 years. It is easy to get bogged down and worried about what is coming next. And while it is important to strive and to dream, you can't worry your life away. Sometimes we need to simply breathe and be grateful.

10. I still have a lot to learn.
I have learned a lot from my 20's. But no one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the has all the answers. And I certainly don't profess to.

I know more about myself now than I did 10 years ago. But I have still have a lot of living to do. I will make mistakes. I will say and do things I shouldn't. But I am okay with that. We grow. We change. We learn. That is the beauty of life.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,