It’s only a few days until my birthday and in the midst of all the thesis writing, getting ready for parties and Easter I wanted to take a moment and write what I’ve learned over the last few years.
I’m not about posts that tell everyone else how to live their lives or give you a three-point system to being successful, happy, loved, content etc. I am, however, a big fan of sharing…I believe that the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is not only true, but also something that never changes. It’s not without the wisdom, trials, advice and celebrations of others that I would have already made it this far.
With this in mind, before the date changes over and I’m well and truly into my 30s here are 30 things that I have learned…I would love for you to add to this list and share what you think too!
Note: there’s no order in this list…no importance, no rating…just lessons.
1. Life is about balance…whether it’s in health, in relationships, or in how much time you spend staring at your smart phone, we all need balance in our lives. Without balance there’s a good chance you will go mad (crazy). If something feels off, check if something is taking too much of your energy or devotion and change your priorities.
2. There only two constants in your life: you & God. If it’s one lesson I have learned is that no one, not even your parents are going to be a constant in your life. Although we’re designed to be in community, in relationship, we need to ensure that we take care of our relationship with ourselves and God first. If these are in place you can serve the world from a much better, and healthier, position.
3. People are mean. Face it, you’re mean, i’m mean. Thankfully, most of the time it’s only a moment and driven by emotion or maybe just not eating a snack (can we talk about “hanger”?). Get over it. If you were mean to someone, apologise and move on. If you’ve been hurt…deal with it. Holding onto that which is negative really can kill you.
4. People are often just curious. SO STOP TELLING EVERYONE EVERYTHING. Honestly, I spent too much of my 20s justifying why I didn’t want to go to this party or that event. I told too many people what I was feeling or who I may have been interested in. It’s none of anyone’s business and often “care” is curiosity!
5. You cannot control anything but your decisions and subsequent actions. This is the big lesson I learned in my 20s. I tried to make my life like a chess game. Life isn’t chess…Life is Twister, Snakes and Ladders and often even Solitaire. You can’t figure out what’s going to happen or try to manipulate the situation. Your best bet is to learn to simply respond with grace and maturity to anything that comes your way…it will all fall into place.
6. Thankful is the only attitude you need. This may come across as odd, I really believe that if you do anything with love you will have the best life, but with that, out of that comes and attitude of gratitude; a thankful heart. I have learned that if we constantly look for something to be grateful for then life becomes a lot lighter and people actually want to be around you.
7. I am unique…and so are you. Life is not one size fits all. Aside from the simple (and yet often hard to grasp) lesson that we are all on our own journeys, this is more a practical statement. You are going to wear a different clothes size then the girl standing next to you. You may be better at football than your flatmate but he can rip you to shreds on a surf board. You may need to stay away from meat but you love pasta. Find what makes you healthy and strong and go with that…
8. If you knew what was ahead, you would cry, scream, throw a fit, want it so bad that you would mess it up. I remember a message that Christine Caine once spoke, she said that if we knew that we were going to be in 5, 10 or even 20 years you would either become too proud to get there or too scared and fall in a crumbled mess. I love that looking back I can see the thread that got me where I am today. We really need each day to get to the next…give yourself grace to get there in the right time.
9. Water is the best drink. Fact.
10. God really does love you. This is an entire blog post in itself or maybe even a long conversation over a cup of coffee, but it’s true. He loves you and wants you to know that.
11. Cultivating a “Jesus heart” is the only way to live life. This has been my 2014 challenge, a real, “What would Jesus do” kind of challenge. So far, it’s well…hard but the results have been amazing…I’ll keep you updated.
12. Expectations of others only ever bring pain. It’s that simple, when we put expectations into a situation, we’re trying to control the outcome. Just let it go (cue the soundtrack from Disney’s Frozen).
13. God truly opens doors no one can shut and shuts those no one can open. A few months ago I prayed that God would show me the direction a relationship was going. I think God knows that I don’t easily give in to situations because within days he slammed a door shut so hard I didn’t even want to open it…Ask. He’ll show you.
14. People rely on me. And people rely on you…let your yes be yes and your no be no. Be of good character and do it out of love.
15. Influence is not about position. When you have had a title and then not had a title this lesson is a lot clearer, but I learned that my actions, really my life, are always being watched. I will guarantee you that you have someone who is looking up to you to see what you are doing or how you will react. Treat that responsibility with a lot of respect, you never know who’s life you can change for the better (or worse).
16. You will never please everyone; so stop trying.
17. I’m a mess without God, sleep, healthy food, exercise and a balance of alone time and social time. My darling friend S used to be the best at checking me on these things. If I called her, broken down, she would run through a list of questions before she asked me “what was wrong”…I learned to do a self-check when life seemed a bit too heavy. If all of the above were in place and I still felt off…something was really wrong.
18. Living an outward focused life only brings joy. I don’t smoke, never have, but a friend of mine told me that when she smoked her life was always full of more anxiety. When I questioned why, she noted that when she lit a cigarette, she would have time to mull over the issues in her life. She would become inwardly focused and her anxiety would rise…even if she hadn’t been anxious in the first place. Sure, we have to care for ourselves, but when I try and live with others in mind suddenly life doesn’t seem so heavy.
19. Puppies can make anyone smile…yeah…just try and look at a puppy and not be happy. I dare you.
20. Friends become family. Having lived away from home since I was 18 I have come to value my friends with high regard. They are truly the family you get to choose. Choose wisely and be a good friend.
21. Other people’s choices and actions reflect on them, not you. I often take things to heart. The best lesson I was taught is that most often, what others do, is not a reflection on you, but on what’s going on inside of them, or maybe simply how bad their day was. If you’re really concerned, talk to them…otherwise move on.
22. Do everything with passion. If you hate what you do change it or figure out a part that you can be passionate about and cultivate that.
23. Surround yourself with passionate people…boring people lead boring lives. You get one, make it count.
24. Appreciate people for who they are, not what you need them to be. Once I stopped wanting people to fulfil a particular aspect in my life it all became a lot easier (probably for them too).
25. Once in a while, eat ice cream even if it makes you sick. Maybe ice cream isn’t your thing, but it goes back to balance. I am soooo allergic to ice cream and it’s not going to help my health, but once in a while…just because I really want it, I eat it…feel a bit sick, but just enjoy the moment and realise that it’s not going to kill me. (if you’re allergic to peanuts, please do not try this at home). You get the gist though right? It all goes back to balance.
26. Understanding a second, third, fourth language brings more than communication, it brings understanding. If there’s one lesson I have learned about living in a country that I have no linguistic connection to, is that language is more about words, it is about culture. The more I think about the language, the way people communicate, the more I understand the culture I live in.
27. Leadership shows mainly in the quiet and small things. In order to lead in life your actions don’t always have to be big, you don’t always have to be the centre of attention. Leadership is most often shown in the way that we do our every day.
28. No matter how old you get, you’ll always feel 12 when you go home to family…enjoy it.
29. Spend a lot of time in the sunshine. My new favourite thing is to get up early on the days i’m not going to the gym and go for a run. Often in Sweden (in the Spring) it’s really sunny first thing then may cloud over…those first few rays of Vitamin D are nature’s medicine.
30. You really do become like the people you surround yourself with…be aware. I was taught that you should constantly evaluate who you are allowing to speak into your life and who you spend time with. Not only will you become like the people you are with, but who they are will reflect on what others think of you. Choose wisely.
So I’ve lived 31 for a few months now…I’m *almost* 31 and a half and life has brought a whole lot of lessons in the last few months. I figured, rather than trying to do this again I would simply add to this list…because knowledge never goes bad.
31. Take each day as it comes…don’t get through a day, feel it, experience it, love it…and don’t worry so much about what comes next.
32. Remember what you have been promised. I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future (Jer 29:11-12), he wants, can and will give you more than you ever imagined, abundantly more than you could dream of or expect. Sometimes we forget what the bible says, what God has promised us in the our quiet moments with him (or in my case, apparently YELLING it into my heart because I can forget to listen). We stop and forget that His plans, his Promises are infinitely better than what we can construct. Sure, short term we enjoy what we have pushed, strived and struggled to create instead of resting in Him and doing well with what is in our hands. Stop and remember.
33. Loving yourself is the ONLY way to live. I have been through stages in life where I have loved literally all of me, every inch, every aspect, every character flaw. It’s in those seasons (because admittedly, this comes and goes), that my life has bloomed and flourished in ways I would never imagine.
34. You CAN do it. I have no idea of what that is to you..but I have just gotten my Masters degree (something I sat a desk dreaming about for years), I have moved across countries multiple times, I have run a 1/2 marathon (and I won’t again). All of these things, despite being pretty cool, are just more proof that I can do whatever I put my mind to, I really can. It’s sometimes just about figuring out a way to do that. Get an imagination…
35. Stop being afraid. I’m talking love here people. Well, maybe not love, but it could be love. Do you think someone is cute? You find a guy attractive. Show him. I’m not propagating that you ask a guy out (I’m too traditional for that), but remember you’re just as awesome, why not make it known. From what my friends say…guys are just as afraid to let you know they might like you…the least we can do girls, is to show it. Men, we want to go on a date, with you…don’t be weird, don’t think we want to get married. We probably just want to have a fun day out or a nice dinner where we can wear our heels and get to know someone new.
36. If it’s bothering you that much, say something. Oh friends. We love them but we don’t want to hurt them. However, if there is something going on with a good friend, maybe you should take them for a coffee or a big glass of wine and see what is up. We are not all open books (although I seem like it, I’m really private). Sometimes that thing that is bothering you is also bothering your friend. Be real with each other.
37…Be okay with where you are today. When I am sick I find that I am MY OWN ENEMY. This also happens if I have too much time on my hands. Idle hands are truly dangerous. While I have goals and aspirations I found one simple thing: When I was not completely okay with where I am today, I never go anywhere. Everyone starts somewhere. Start today.