Turning 31 today I have been thinking a little bit about the lessons I have learned, the mistakes I have made and the things I have done right. Growing older doesn't worry me one little bit, despite the grey hairs coming on strong and the rapidly growing laugh lines, I find every up more joyful and every low more manageable. Nothing can substitute experience.
Over the years, through tough times, big adjustments, career changes, break ups and, well, life, I have been privy to advice from all sorts of people. Everyone has - our friends, family, colleagues and sometimes even strangers, offer words of wisdom from their own repertoire of lessons learned and back catalogues of information gained through personal experience. Recently I have been thinking more about this idea, as I have been known to take and dish advice frequently (probably often unwarranted and irritatingly so) but I am slightly in love with the idea of helping someone cut the corners I may have walked full length, or saving someone else the heartache of a mistake I made in ignorant bliss or simply being able to say "hey, I get it, life ain't easy and this is what I have learned".
Trust The Universe
My mum used to tell me this all the time. I was an anxious child, and am still anxiety prone, so I was often worrying about the future, the "what ifs"; the potential for disaster. The enormity of these simple words was lost on me in my younger days. While I loved these three words and contemplated a tattoo just to prove it, I didn't realise the gravity or the meaning of this little sentence until I was much older. We have little say in the grand scheme of our lives, we can only control the daily play out and the smaller moments. The choices we make are important but overall, the path is a windy one and we cannot keep it straight. During difficult times we sometimes have to sit back and have trust - the need to control is often the peril rather than the perceived possibility of things going wrong.
If You Don't Think Your The Shit People Treat You Like Shit
This one is from my dad, a hilarious, slightly odd, intelligent but arrogant (maybe justifiably so) little person. This advice can be misinterpreted but I like to think of it the way I always have - it is about self belief, backing yourself and never letting anyone put you down - it means always stand with your head held high. You set the example for how you are received and you must set the bar high. I firmly believe everyone is "the shit", I set the bar high for everyone. There is no "better than" in my book, I always see the good in someone and I hold almost everyone in high regard. I believe this advice applies to the way we speak to ourselves and the way we view others - we are all exceptional and deserve to be treated like we are the shit!
You Will Never Be Ready
I used to think my dreams needed to happen at the right time. I thought I needed to have everything lined up perfectly, all my pretty little ducks needed to be in a row and then bam, presto I would begin! What a load of bullshit. The only reason anyone feels this way is because fear is calling the shots, doubt is running the show and the easy road is holding them back. There will never be a right time, the only time is now. Success belongs to those who take the first step, it is as simple as that.
In Ten Years You Will Look Back and Wish You Were As Fat As When You Thought You Were Fat
How absolutely true this is. It need not be about weight, this applies to everything. We look back and realise we had it all, we were amazing, we were beautiful, we were enough without needing to be any better, different, smaller, taller, funnier, funnier, prettier. It is so important to remember this and enjoy what we have right now. Don't wake up one day and realise you didn't enjoy the moment because you were wanting to be perfect. What a damn waste of time!
Life Is Messy & That Is Ok
Who thought they would be married, successful, own a house and have 2 kids and a Labrador by 30? Ha, I did! I turned 31 yesterday and to date I have...almost been married, called off the wedding two weeks before the day, entered into single mum life with just a suitcase and my car packed with a couple of my most precious things. I took with me bucket loads of fear along with sweet relief to be free of an awful situation. I had a six month old, a broken resume, no assets, no house and the Labrador....well, it was actually a staffy who I left behind when I fled and I still miss that beautiful dog everyday. I moved back in with my mum for a few weeks then found a rental apartment and begged the agent to take a chance on me and my broken history. I spent two years trying to rebuild my life. I was lost, but I was found. I didn't have an inch of what I expected I would have when I started life over at 28 but three years later I am living my dream, in an apartment that feels like home, surrounded by good people, doing what I love and slowly I have built the life I once imagined. It looks nothing like I expected but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Life is messy, things go wrong and that is ok. The journey has no finish line, it is just hurdle after hurdle with the hope for joy on the straight runs.
All Artists and Creatives Think They Suck
Anyone creative, anyone who puts their ideas out into the world, feels inadequate a lot of the time. You will sometimes hate your work, you will often question your talent and you will feel mediocre. This must not stop you. If, for you, the creative process makes your heart sing, then that is enough. Whether you are good or not doesn't matter - the process is what counts. Also, chances are you do not suck at all. Persist.
Your Greatest Accomplishments Probably Won't Win You Any Awards
Of anything I have done, experienced, achieved or created, I am most proud of my son. There are no "mum awards", no one really stops you and hands out praise for the little person you have created. Mothers, and fathers, tend to receive more negative feedback than positive. I hope one day that changes. The one thing I have put my entire heart and soul into is my little boy and I am endlessly proud of the person he is. I can't take full credit, he was born with a sweet heart, a killer smile and a divine emotional intelligence which amazes me every day. I like to hope I have something to do with his positivity, his sense of fun and the fact he waves and says hello to everyone we walk by on the street. My son is the single one accomplishment I will look back on when I am old and grey with nothing but pride. There will not be accolades, medals or award, there will just be him and and that will be more than enough.