Thirty years. That’s how long I’ve been alive. Well, actually if we’re being honest, it will be thirty-one years in a few days. Oh, how I love birthdays! I treat my birthday as my own mini New Year. Time to reflect and be grateful for everything the year has gifted me with. This year – 30 – has been especially enlightening. And hard. Not for the obvious reason of turning thirty (call me crazy, but I actually liked that part!). It was hard because I chose to intentionally step away from things that were driving my self-worth and instead dive deep into discovering how to break free of the cycle of perfectionism and live a life well contented. I’m still on that journey.
Basically, this year has felt like an identity crisis of sorts. But the kind that you intentionally seek out, not the kind that hits you out of nowhere. So in honor of that, I wanted to share a few things that this year has taught me. By no means have I mastered these things. But they say being aware of your behavior is the first step to changing it. So here’s a list of awareness that I’ve gathered. Hopefully it resonates with some of your own!
- Who you are is worth exploring.
- Trust the process. And know that your process will look different than everyone else’s. So for heaven sakes, stop comparing yours to those around you!
- There is no point of arrival in life. We are all ever-changing and ever-evolving. Life is not a race to the the finish line, so we might as well relax and enjoy the journey.
- Don’t expect other people to read your mind and know exactly what you want/need. This is especially applicable with your spouse (guilty as charged)! Expecting other people to know what you’re thinking will only lead to disappointment. If you want something, ask! Sure, it’s not as magical. But what’s better? Voicing what you want and drastically improving the chances of getting said thing. Or, not voicing it and being disappointed and bitter when the other people can’t ready your mind? If Jesus, who can read minds, tells us to ask (“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7), then I think we can take it on good authority that asking for what we want is anything but detrimental to our health.
- Take the time to make a list of every unnecessary obligation that you’ve committed yourself to. Then, next to it, make a list of the things that bring you joy. Then ask yourself if those two lists intersect at any point. If not, look at your unnecessary obligation list and start planning how you can eliminate from that list in order to make room for things that will allow you to intentionally seek joy. NOTE: This requires sacrifice, but the pay off in well-being is 100000% worth it!
- Dreams should never be confined to something as silly as a timeline. Let them nurture. Let them grow. Let the dream fester and take root inside you. It may take months. It may take years. Oh, but when it blooms! The world will know.
- Don’t ever let someone make you feel like your dream is not viable simply because it hasn’t taken shape in their minds. Look inside you. You can see it. I know you can! Now guard and grow that dream and be careful who you share it with.
- Not all humans can admire the jewels and treasure buried deep inside you. Some are pirates and will steal it quicker than the blink of an eye. Aye, matey! Learn boundaries with those people. HINT: Boundaries does not always mean cutting those people out of your life. For help with learning about healthy boundaries, read “Boundaries” by Townson & Cloud.
- Learn something new.
- Meet someone new.
- Let yourself be surprised by people. We always love to put people in boxes. But people weren’t made to live in boxes. Take the time to ask questions and learn what makes them come alive! You just might be surprised.
- No one has their shit together. We’re all a mess. So stop using the filter of social media as a comparison for your life and start living your actual life!
- Read books. Any book! Pick a genre, turn off Netflix and let your imagination go to work.
- Get to know your grandparents. Ask them questions. Know their story. Because one day, when you’re sitting by their bedside knowing that there are only few precious moments left, you’ll be grateful you have those stories to cling to. Also – write them down.
- If your worth is derived from how you look or what you do rather than who you are, be prepared for a discontented and unfulfilled existence.
For my married peeps….
- Don’t get sick of fighting with your spouse. I’m not saying to intentionally seek out a fight, but be invested enough in your relationship that you’re willing to take on the hard issues. As a brilliant professor once said, “Apathy is the most damaging emotion to a relationship. Even more than hate. Because hate at least has passion and the person still cares enough to hate. There’s something to work with when hate is involved. But an apathetic individual has zero investment, zero passion and zero desire to change the current circumstance. All drive is gone. ” So don’t be apathetic in your relationship and don’t be apathetic in your life.
- When you do fight with your spouse, make sure they know that no matter how “bad” the fight might get, that you’re still with them and you’re still for them. I mean it. Verbally say to them, “I’m not going anywhere. Through thick and thin, baby!” (That last part is optional, but might help ease the tension.)
And last, but certainly not least (and my biggest revelation)
- There’s beauty to be found in stillness. It’s scary at first, you alone with your thoughts. But sitting in that space and leaning in to the discomfort grants you a sense of peace and perspective that will carry you through and open up your mind to brand new possibilities!