What do I know now that I wish I’d known earlier in my years? The following tips are the things that come to mind. I earned them fair and square, having learned them the long and hard way – through many years of experiencing. I wear these statutes on my heart with pride, like a badge of honor I’ve earned throughout the years. If I had known then what I know now, I’d definitely be a ton wiser today. My hope is that by sharing these life lessons with you, you’ll find ways to apply them in your life.
So without further ado, here are the top five tips I’d give my younger self.
- Embrace falling. Like others, fear of failure was a huge barrier for me. I hated imagining what it might be like to fail while attempting to do something. I had an extremely fixed mindset. It was just as embarrassing for me to show everyone that I didn’t have everything together as it was for me to fall flat on my face walking across to receive my diploma, for example. Humility was not a trait that was on my radar until my recent years. I wanted everyone to know how good I was. Which meant I didn’t take many risks, because if I failed at something it meant I wasn’t so good. I kept myself caged behind curtains. Over the years, I’ve learned that I despise keeping myself small more than letting others see that I’m not a perfect genius. I’ve learned that it’s stifling to be stagnant. I’m over it. I’d rather grow. I’d rather learn. And so I’ve come to embrace falling on my face (metaphorically – I can’t imagine falling on my face physically!).
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. If you enjoy the Batman series, the line, “why so serious? [voice of Joker]” probably comes to mind. I thought that in order for people to respect me as a person, I had to be serious all the time. After all, I grew up around adults who were respected – and stoic. It probably also comes from being an older sister, needing to take care of my brother and playing a role (full disclosure: I got there eventually… I wasn’t a great role model in my earlier years). But because I played this role, I was bored all the time. Serious meant boring person. Boring life. What I’ve come to learn is, life is fun. Life is exciting. Life is magical. And serious is over-rated.
- I’m in the driver’s seat. This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned through them all. I don’t know why it’s at number three, but it’s cushioned against other, really great lessons. I’m in the driver’s seat. All the time. Even when the lady in front of me at CVS is becoming angry with the person at the cash register and demanding to speak to the manager despite a line of 10 people deep behind her (including me, who is 10 minutes late to a meeting). I’m in the driver’s seat when someone decides to steal my credit card info and purchase extravagant gifts for themselves, without any care of how that impacts the card holder. I’m in the driver’s seat and get to choose how to respond to insensitive individuals who don’t care about others’ plights. I’m in charge of how I feel, what I think, and the way I show up – regardless of my past. Trauma or no trauma, abuse or no abuse, I’m in the driver’s seat. And no one else gets to take that power from me. They don’t get to dictate how I show up. No matter the circumstances. I create my reality. My perception is my own, and I shape it.
- It’s not about what you gain. It’s about the person you become through it all. I wish I knew this when I was in high school. I dreamed of having it all – the house, the car, the shoes! I thought that when I get to that point, that meant I reached my goal. In reality, those mean nothing.. in the long run anyway. The high you get from buying things lasts but a hot minute. I consider myself lucky to have figured out that at the end of the day, it’s not the things I’m after. It’s about the person I become in the process. When I look at someone like Tony Robbins, I don’t get excited because of his mansions or his bank account. I get excited because of the work he put in to get to who he is today. That’s where the joy is. Becoming the person you didn’t think was possible.
- Laugh a little – a lot, actually. One of the best speeches I’ve ever heard in my life was the toast my brother gave to me and Archie on our wedding day. To preface his speech, my brother noted that I laughed a lot. Until he said this on that special day, I had no idea that I laughed a lot. Didn’t other people laugh too? I wondered if it annoyed people that I laughed a lot – and whether this was why he even noticed that fact to state it. But then I realized, if I didn’t laugh, who would I be? I laugh a lot. Even at the corniest jokes. The jokes that aren’t funny. I also laugh out loud when I see something small that amuses me on the subway. And people give me funny looks. But life is too short not to laugh. There’s so much joy to be had if we allowed ourselves to let them in. My name means one who knows beauty. Not a lot of people know that. But I really do live up to that name. I see beauty everywhere, and I express it quite frequently – both through tears of joy and bouts of laughter.
What are five tips you’ve learned through life that you’d share with your younger self – and perhaps to others? Write them down so you don’t ever forget it!
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You need to live YOUR life. No one else can, or ever will. Your life is your gift. Don’t waste it. #SingularPresence