It's the eve of my 27th birthday, and I've got to thinking about everything that's come to life in the last year and some of the important lessons I've learned.
26 was a pretty epic year on the whole - it involved really cool work travels and projects, we got our PR visa for Canada, I got to spend quality time with my fave people back home and it was generally a very happy year. That's not to say there weren't a few challenging periods, but as far as years go, it's one that I'll look back on really fondly.
If I'm totally honest with you though, getting older is something that I actively resist. Sometimes, I really just don't feel old enough to be doing half of the things I do and it terrifies me that time is flying by so quickly. In a way, I still feel like my 17-year old self, only now I have a business to run and a whole entire life in another country - soooo I guess when you put it like that, then that's pretty much the definition of adulting isn't it...eek! Maybe though you never actually feel old enough to do any of those adulting things and you just have to go ahead and do them. I don't know. Anyone else relate?!
Aaaanyway, rather than going off on a tangent about how I don't feel adult enough for my age (because that's a whole other blog post in itself), I want to talk about some of the valuable lessons I've learned over the last few years. While I might not like the thought of getting older, one thing that age does bring is experiences, and in turn, a whole bunch of valuable learnings and lessons.
Whether the outcome was good or bad, our experiences shape who we are and teach us so much about ourselves, and that's something we should reflect on every now and then. I've grown and become so much more confident in myself and who I am, especially in the last 12 months, so I wanted to share some of the key things I've learned and the things I'll be taking with me into my 27th year.
Lesson #1: Take off the pressure
It's easy to feel like we need to be something or have achieved specific goals by a certain age, especially as we approach 30. We need to have kids by X age, get married after X number of years together and have a clear plan of where we're heading and how we're going to get there (or so we're told, anyway).
But all that is, is pressure. SO MUCH PRESSURE to completely have it all together and figured out all based on how many years we've existed on this Earth. All this pressure weighs on our shoulders, often making us feel inadequate or like we're not achieving what we should be, and that's more than enough to spark a few mini/major life crises (speaking from experience here).
You know the funny thing though? No one actually has it figured out. People pretend they do, but they really don't. A lot of the time we look up to our parents and we assume that when they were our age, they had a clear plan and everything worked out. But the reality is they probably didn't, and the reality is you probably won't either. And that's completely absolutely okay.
I've really focused on taking the pressure off lately and being a lot less hard on myself, and it's been wonderful. I highly recommend it, you know. I used to be such a worry wort and I'd hate not knowing what was going to happen in the future. But the last few years have taught me that plans never work out anyway, no matter how detailed they are. Sometimes you deviate and the final destination is 100x better than the original one. And sometimes, plans just fail. Either way though, our journey always goes off on tangents and in different directions to what we planned, which is why it's so important to be okay with not knowing and to just go with the flow.
So, if you too feel like the pressure is mounting, take a step back. Let go of all the things you feel you "should" be doing at this point in your life. And just do YOU. Focus on your own goals rather than your peers. Live in the moment in your own relationship, rather than comparing it to your friend's or the original plan you set in your mind 10 years ago. Focus on doing what YOU want to do and what's important to you. You only have one life, so enjoy it, live it how you want to and bloody have fun doing so!
Lesson #2 - You do you, and quit the comparison
Comparison really is the thief of joy, isn't it? This used to be something that plagued me, especially in my early 20s when I was at University. I felt like everyone was doing all these amazing things and I wasn't, and at one point I grew quite resentful. But then one day I realised...by focusing all my energy on other people and the things I'm not doing, I'm actually diverting energy and attention away from the things I could be doing.
"What could I achieve if I channeled my energy into my own goals instead?", I thought. "And how is focusing on other people at all productive to my own growth?"
Every now and then, comparison creeps in and working online and on social media can be testing sometimes, especially when everyone else's best lives are on show. But when that happens, I just remember that comparison is the most unproductive thing you can do. We all have our own paths and no two journeys are the same. We're unique as individuals, in every single way possible, and that's the most beautiful thing! Everybody, everybody in this world has challenging periods but that's just a part of life and it's in those tough times that we learn. Embrace that too.
So instead of wasting your energy comparing your journey to others, focus on yours instead. Focus on your goals, on your growth, and your own journey. Use others for inspiration and motivation, but learn to block out the negative noise and just. do. you.
Trust me, you'll thank yourself for it in the end.
Lesson #3 - Get to know yourself
We place so much focus on external things - our jobs, our relationships, travels, money, goals, all of that. But how much time do we actually spend getting to know ourselves?
I've been doing a lot more yoga lately, and I recently attended a really great workshop at YYoga on the topic of mind-body connection. The panelists were amazing and emphasized just how important it is to spend time getting to know yourself and ensure that your mind and body are connected, and it was honestly so enlightening.
If you constantly have aches and pains, don't just ignore them - that's your body's way of communicating to you that something might be off, so listen to it. If you wake up in a morning and immediately feel stressed, rather than passing it off as normal and something that will go away on its own, think about what might be triggering those feelings and how you can change it.
I used to get anxious in the morning, and I'd put it down to having a bad dream or poor sleep. But then I realised there was a pattern, and the trigger was my phone. Before I was even fully awake, I was consuming all this information, seeing incoming emails and my to-do list, so no wonder I was instantly feeling stressed. So now, I leave my phone for a while, make sure to have a cuddle and a cuppa tea before I check my emails and that's made a huge difference to my mood and mindset in a morning.
The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one in the world, so don't neglect that. By getting to know yourself better, you'll begin to understand how you function, why you react to certain situations or people and what your mind and body needs to function properly. You'll also learn what your weak points are and why you do things the way you do. Don't be afraid to take a bit of time out for yourself, as ultimately that will help you to grow and allow other relationships in your life to thrive.
Lesson #4 - Understand the value in your voice
While I've always been very ambitious, I'd say I only found my voice in my early 20s. I was always more observant than vocal, and I just didn't feel comfortable or confident sharing my opinion and using my voice. I often felt like I might be judged if I spoke up, or that it was just easier to go along with things, so I was a lot more reserved and easy breezy as I didn't want to put people out.
There were a few occasions though when I really didn't speak up for myself, or the people around me, and that still bothers me to this day. I have few regrets in life, but one of them is not speaking out when I should have and not having confidence in my voice when it was needed, as it's something that's so essential.
Over the last 5/6 years though, I've learned just how valuable and valid my voice is, and how as individuals we need to embrace it. I've learned that what I have to say is just as important as the person sitting next to me. Matt had a lot to do with this - when we met, it used to take me about 3 days to voice what was on my mind and to be honest about how I was feeling. Over time, he's helped me to understand that if I'm feeling a certain way, then it's valid and it should be voiced and it should be heard. And I'll always be grateful for that.
When we want something, whether it be that last biscuit or that work promotion, we have to speak up or we lose out. When we see someone being bullied or taken advantage of or we experience that ourselves, we have to use our voice to put a stop to it and take action. Otherwise, it just continues.
Our voices are so powerful, so don't ever feel like what you have to say or how you're feeling is any less valid than your peers. Whether it's in your relationship or in business, if something is weighing on your mind, if you feel strongly about something or if you have something to share, then voice it. Your voice is one of your most powerful assets, so make sure you use it!
Is this something you guys can relate to, or have any of you experienced similar life lessons? I'd love to know and hear about your experiences too! xx