Lessons learned in 36 years

It’s hard to believe I’m six years into my 30s.

I remember when I turned 30 I told myself the next 10 years were going to be better than the last 10.
Amazing things have happened these last six years. I finally have direction in my life. I feel excited about my future. I’ve had some great successes, but at the same time I learned very hard and valuable lessons.
I have travelled to some of the most beautiful places on earth, I experienced love like no other when my 2 nieces Maya and Isla were born and when a little boy recently entered my life.

I have learned more than ever to trust my instincts. That inexplicable gut feeling deep down inside is there for a reason. It’s like an internal compass, sometimes guiding us away from danger, other times nudging us toward golden opportunities. A few months ago I ignored my compass, and I’m still kicking myself today.

I know that I can’t control what the person next to me says or does, or what the weather’s like. The only thing that I can really control is how I respond — to good news, bad news, hardships, challenges, kind words, mean words, bad days, great days and frustrating challenges. Sometimes, we may not respond well immediately (like when we’re completely overwhelmed), and that’s okay, but ultimately we’re the only ones who can turn things around.
“You are responsible for your own happiness,” the saying goes. I think that’s easier said than done when things are really bad, but I do think it’s true. Your happiness is not the responsibility of your partner, or your parents, or the amount of followers and likes you have on social media.

I have learned that I am the only one that can limit the impact of bullshit in my life by ensuring that I always circle back to my own values and keep my feet firmly in reality.
I also realized that even if I don’t express how I truly feel, it’s still felt and stored somewhere and I only have so much capacity for toxic ‘baggage’ before it pollutes me. I am human. I feel. I matter. I’ve learned to welcome my feelings both good and ‘bad’ without judging me.

I have  learned that I have a voice and I have a platform where I can share my journey and make a difference in someone’s life. Like Anne Lamott said: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better”.

I know now more than ever that it’s most important to recognize your own feelings and position and don’t spend your life looking for validation, especially from wrong people.

The past year especially I came to realize that even when a person won’t admit their issues, often the people around them are a dead giveaway due to the way in which they engage with this particular person or how they talk about them. When you see a grown up’s parents /siblings / friends covering up for this person, being in denial or even attacking you, that tells you in no uncertain terms that something’s extremely off.
I have learned the past few weeks to choose my battles. Being a grown up and not wanting to have constant drama in my life has forced me to question whether an issue is worth me getting all worked up about everything, especially when people try bully or manipulate me.

Especially in my 30’s I have learned that personal development isn’t a temporary project with a ‘happy ending’ payout; self-esteem is a journey where you get plenty of on the job training. It’s up to you to create and cultivate what and who you say you are and want to be.

Last but not least, I have learned again that you are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true. Someone once tried telling me that I had no true friends, but  the past 3 months I have seen more than ever that if you really want to change your life, you have to change the people you hang around with. Spend time with people who support you and believe in you, people that share the same values as you and that will help you grow into a better human being than ever before.

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