Looking back on what I learnt in my twenties
I have spent the past month writing down and reflecting on the things I learnt over the past decade. I think it is good to pause, reflect and see how much you have grown. I don’t like to live in the past, however, I always try and grow from situations as I believe there is a lesson to learn from every situation or person you meet, so it is nice to sit and reflect and bring what I have learnt to a new decade. I am currently celebrating turning thirty in the Dubai sunshine, a little treat to myself. Sitting looking out the window at the Arabian sunrise and reflecting and wondering if I am on the right path. So, here are my random life lessons that I learnt in my twenties and here is to more decades of growth, lessons and love.
Your legacy is all you have at the end of the day
How you touch and impact others is how you are remembered. The materialistic things go, looks fade, mansions need maintenance and there is always a newer fancier version of your car. If we all spent more time upgrading ourselves instead of our mobile phones ( Gary Vee quote ) the world would be a much nicer place.
Be whole by yourself
After buying my house I thought I would feel happier, I worked so hard to get it but once I got it I found myself feeling a little empty and lost in the evenings after I came home from work. This is when I learnt the lesson that things don’t equal happiness. So, I started to seek out hobbies and new interests that were just for me. Instantly I was happier with myself. Meeting new people and learning new skills and having new hobbies. This is when I learnt that it is the experiences we have, the growth of a person and the people we spent our time with that make us truly happy.
This lesson also applies to people. Never rely on a relationship or person to make you happy. Nobody can fill that void in you, only you can do it. When the person you are relying on for happiness lets you down it can be hurtful and devastating, however, if you are full on your own it won’t affect you as much. Once I started to realise that people can’t make me happy and only I can I started to take responsibility for my own happiness.
Listen and Trust your Gut
I ignored my gut and got hurt, not once but many a time. I ignored my gut because of fear. Fear of facing what was really going on. Never ignore that niggling feeling inside of me. When I look back at the times I listened to my gut, my gut was never wrong. I am a worry wart, so sometimes I can’t distinguish between what is an irrational thought and my gut. I am getting much better at it now. I listen to my gut and when I don’t like what it is saying I still trust it. I try and be in tune with it. Your gut is there to guide and protect you. Do you ever get that feeling when someone is hiding something, a feeling you shouldn’t be doing something or going somewhere? That niggling feeling is your gut. My goal is to trust and listen to it more.
You will lose people
It is impossible to live a life and not lose people. In life, we aren’t really thought how to deal with losing people. I lost my dad when I was twenty. This was tough, especially at such a young age, however, I try and change my thinking about loss. The pain of loss is a killer. I always say that I would sooner have a broken leg than a broken heart. Its raw, agonising and shit, however, heartache is just a consequence of loving with all your heart. I would rather love with all my heart and take the pain of loss than live a life of fear. I now change my thoughts to ones of gratitude. I am grateful I had my dad until I was twenty. Yes, I could be bitter about losing him so young but at the end of the day, it won’t change what happened. I am grateful he was my father and that I had him for the time I did.
Grieving the loss of someone who is still alive.
Whether it is a friend or a partner, there was plenty of times I had to walk away from people, call it a day and move on. Losing people in my life that that is still alive was just as painful as when I lost my dad. When I lost my Dad I could accept that he wasn’t coming back, however, when I lost people from my life that are still alive I found it trickier. You have the “What if’s”, the doubts, the glimmer of hope that maybe things will work out but what I have learnt is that you have to give up the ghost. Put yourself first, feel the pain, allow yourself time to grieve and one day you think about them less and less and you find yourself in a new friendship or relationship that fulfils you more than the last. When I had moments of doubt I had to trust my decisions, I also learnt to stop living in the past.
Getting my heart broken made me more compassionate, I would rather take my heart to the grave full of scars from loving people and living a full life than having my heart wrapped in bubble wrap and have never felt love. Learn to let go of the people and the situations that no longer serve you.
Collect memories, not things. This is something I have been trying to do the past two years. I heard a great phrase “Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”. I enjoy travelling a lot more now than in my early twenties as when I was younger it was all about going somewhere, getting pissed and being too hungover to explore. Now I really appreciate exploring a new city and country. I also have embraced solo travel. This is something that I never imagined I would have been able to do. At the end of the day, don’t let having nobody to travel alongside you stop you from going. Go explore while you can. Collecting a trinket ( or teapot in my case ) whilst on your travels is allowed too lol. I plan on seeing a lot more places, getting lost walking around cities, towns and villages and having fun meeting people along the way.
Protect your energy
I remember being burnt out, anxious and felt like I had lost my sparkle when I was in my early twenties. A wise person told me to always fill my glass and keep it full and no not let others drink from it and leave me empty. I would give my energy to people and situations that would drain me, however, I learnt from it and now I am a bit ruthless with who and how I give my energy to others. I try and surround myself with people who leave me feeling energised, motivated and inspired. I avoid the moaners and the excuse makers as much as possible. When I have to deal with these people I shield my energy from them. I make a conscious effort every day to give out good energy even when I am not feeling so good. If a situation or person is bringing me down I try and come up with a solution to change it or at least change how I think about it.
If ever I am faced with people trying to get to me or tear me down I read the quote from Maya Angelou to Oprah, “Those people can’t hold a candle to the light God has shining on your face, can’t you see it, look up, look up and and see the light”.
Life isn’t a checklist of things to tick off
Go to college, get a career, get a house, get married, have kids all by a certain age. This absolutely bores the fuck out of me. We are bombarded with a perception of success. That if we do these things by a certain time it means we a successful. Thankfully I no longer feel the pressure to do these things. In fact, I am relieved to be in my thirties and not married and under no pressure to be. There was a time in the past where I had intrusive comments from family and peers over why I wasn’t married or had children. Looking back I am so happy that I choose to construct my life and I didn’t do something I would have regretted based on the goals and expectations of other people. I am happily starting my thirties in Brigit Jones style, big knickers and all! I might get married or I might not, I might find the man of my dreams or I could find many men of my dreams, I will have fun exploring that in my thirties.
Feed your soul
Like I said above about growing equals happiness. I learnt I needed to feed my soul with the things I enjoy. Photography, skills, seminars, podcasts, books, music, writing, walking, nature. Whatever it is that I am craving I try and take some time out and indulge in those things that fill me back up.
Know your worth
I heard a good phrase last year, “Know your worth and then add tax”. When it comes to business and relationships this is something I have gotten better at but I still have some work to do. I undersell myself and my work, I don’t put a price on my time either. This is something that I realised coming towards the end of my twenties and it is definitely on the list to work on going forward. I think when it comes to friendships and relationships you need to value yourself. Knowing your worth stops you attracting the wrong people into your life, I always say that you get what you tolerate. So if you tolerate certain behaviours from people then that is what you get.
I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post, I can honestly say that I feel comfortable turning thirty now. I remember my Dad once saying that the great thing about getting older and wiser, is that you don’t want to be young again if that makes sense. I was recently in a queue and there was a gang of early twenties ladies chatting, I remember thinking to myself “my god, did I sound like that?” Of course, I did, I probably sounded worse! I am grateful for the lessons and growth. I think I will be more relaxed turning thirty. I have a stronger sense of self. I’m focused on growing and stress less over the things I have no control over.
Some of the things I want to work on going forward are, being mindful, giving back, travel and experience new cultures, grow and achieve my goals and meet as many amazing people along the way that I can.
Thanks so much for reading,