9 life lessons I’ve learned – happy birthday to me

Today I’m celebrating my 34th birthday. I’m not one for parties or gifts and enjoy more intimate gatherings with a small group of friends or my immediate family. I thought I’d write a birthday post of life lessons I’ve learned in the last 34 years as a way of reflecting on and celebrating my time on this wonderful planet. If you’re easily offended by profanities, don’t read on – I have been known to drop the f-bomb, and other such colourful language for literary effect *grin* my life lessons in no particular order.

Be yourself: I know it sounds cliche but this probably rings truer as I get older. Caring less about what people think about me and embracing the things that make me happy and that I love has definitely been the life-changing perspective that I needed.

Embrace imperfection: I come from a family of high achievers and stoic creatives. I somehow ended up being academically average (when compared to the rest of my family), and a passionate creative. I struggled in my teens with self-esteem and confidence issues, which translated to some awkwardness in my 20s in social situations and romantic relationships. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties when I dropped out of uni (much to the disappointment of my parents) that I finally called it quits to trying to be perfect. It was too much effort and ridiculously exhausting. I realised over time, too, that the imperfections of life are a source of my creative fuel and what makes me smile at the end of the day, because it’s a reminder of what it feels like to be truly human. Letting go of yourself is the most nourishing and fulfilling life experience you’ll ever have.

Make time for yourself: I’m a homebody by nature and am comfortable being in my own company. I went through a terrible phase of serial monogamy (I know it sounds like an oxymoron, right?!) in my early 20s with some great and not so great guys. The one thing I struggled to find was time for myself. Now that I’m married and have been with my husband for 10 years, time is spent doing ‘adulty’ things like work commitments, errands for the home, etc. that having a 5 minute breather to have a cuppa is a rarity. We’ve luckily scheduled in some separate “me” times on a Saturday morning in the last year and that’s worked wonders for stress levels. I know come next year when we have the baby in the house, me time will come far and few between but we always make it work :)

Be kind for everyone is going through their own battles… But you also shouldn’t be an asshole if you’re going through a mire of shit: I know it’s hard to see the silver lining when things just aren’t looking up for you but it’s no excuse to take everyone else down with you. Sure, share your story, be heard, but don’t be a dick about it. A little kindness goes a long way, from both sides of the exchange. No matter what you’re going through, be a good human being.

Give to others: the inner cynic always tells me that there’s no real true form of altruism and that everyone gives with the unintentional purpose of feeling good about themselves. Shut up, inner cynic! I consider myself a lapsed Catholic. I don’t go to church or read/study the bible or do anything for the church or the religious community. I don’t have anything against those who do either, but it’s just not for me. Regardless of religious beliefs, the one thing I’ve learned across studying all religions is that you should treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Isn’t that the most basic and important lesson we learn in humanity? But back to giving to others… This is more than just giving physical objects or money to charity. The most precious thing in life is time, and we can never get that back. I’ve volunteered my time to study groups, to a mental health phone line, helping elderly members of the community with doing their weekly shopping, and babysat my friends’ children. Give to others with no expectation of anything in return – it adds to the positive vibes of the community.

Pay off your small debts before investing in something bigger: I have been pretty good with money and that comes down to my parents being good role models for financial pursuits. I’m a firm believer to paying off loans and any credit card debt or at least get it down to a manageable size before making any big purchases, like say, a house. I’d also have a savings account on the side as well, even if it’s putting aside $5 each pay. Trust me, a mini savings account has gotten us out of trouble in more ways than one.

If you put in the hard yards, you’ll often be rewarded with the good stuff: I pride myself on my work ethic whether it be in my career or creative pursuits. You need to get your hands dirty and get your elbows in there to get the results you’re happy with. Nothing comes easily in life, but you can make a future easier for yourself if you build strong foundations.

Stop overanalysing: being an introvert sometimes means that I’m also a keen observer of the world. Sometimes it also means reading into things too much, which causes lots of stress and anxiety. It’s taken a lot out of me to re-train myself to just take things and people at face value sometimes. And this leads me to my last life lesson…

Enjoy the journey: I’ve noticed in the last few years that I’ve been focused so much on getting a house, making a career, starting a family, etc. that it’s all a bunch of numbers and facts, and the overriding emotion is stress. Sometimes hubby and I have to stop and remind ourselves that our dreams are finally coming to fruition and we should embrace and love every moment of it!

Happy birthday to me :)

What life lessons have you learned in your lifetime?


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3 thoughts on “9 life lessons I’ve learned – happy birthday to me

  1. Happy Birthday, Dee! Thanks for sharing these lessons learned, these milestone posts you share are always such a treat!

    The give to others thing also gets me sometimes, I’m always wary of marketers and when people share things, I’m always looking out for ‘the catch.’ I’m very happy to have found a solid amount of people who share freely for no other reason than because they love to and it’s made me feel a lot better about the world :)

    I’m trying to focus on making more meaningful time for myself by waking up earlier. When I was going to school it was something I relished in the mornings before heading off to class. Having a solid couple of hours to get myself ready, write for a while, read, all that jazz helped create a better start to my day and I’m excited to get back into it. As you know, I’ve been trying all year and I think I’m finally starting hit that goal again :) It’s exhilarating.

    Anywho, some things I’ve learned…It’s okay to let go and move on. Sometimes the answers won’t be clear and sometimes you’ll never get to know, no matter how much you try or try to analyze things. Sometimes your mind can play tricks on you, but really, it’s always the good voice, the rational voice, that you must listen to in order to get out of that funk. It’ll all be okay because some day you’ll find exactly what you were looking for without even having to try, it’ll just come naturally because you’re at your most natural. Forgive yourself for feeling the way you do, and for thinking the things you think – they are a part of you. Don’t take yourself too seriously when you’re hungry, tired, emotional, nurture yourself and give yourself the same level of compassion you would give to someone you care about. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Do things because they’re right for you, because you feel they’re right for you – not because of what anyone else thinks. Your words can make or break someone, always practice compassion (which you hit right in this post) and if you can’t, then remain quiet. It’s great to take time off for yourself and ignore all of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘have to dos’ for a while. Surround yourself with people you like and let go of those who don’t show any interest or effort. Reciprocate kindness. It’s usually the nicest seeming people who have had the troublest of times, be aware of that. Small talk is way to share a moment of relateableness, it’s an easy way to share a moment with a stranger and have it be meaningful – as long as you’re clever about it such as saying ‘the storm of thousand lakes, eh?’ instead of ‘crazy weather we’re having, eh?’ (this one kind of blew my mind when I read someone comment about it on Reddit, forever changed my mind on small talk). Mind your please and thank you’s and pardons. Karma is real. Every day and every moment, you can choose to feel someone new, something good – it just takes acknowledging the present moment and letting yourself release the tension of a painful or uncomfortable feeling. Be here in the present, because that’s all life is. :)

    <3 Hope you have a beautiful birthday! Eat a slice of cake for me!

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