What 25+ years has taught me...
I’ve always been in a rush to grow up. To reach my destination - in whatever, numerous forms that has taken on – and find the end result. I’ve also always surrounded myself with people slightly older than myself, and sought out the pathways that would accelerate my progression. It’s undeniable, I’ve achieved, adventured, explored, learnt and grown a whole lot in my youth – yet I’ve always been in some form of silent competition that I need to have it all figured out and sorted before more time falls away.
Then this marker of time comes around, when I leave the bracket of my “early twenties” and reach the other side of 25. I went through the famed quarter life crisis that all millennials seem to endure these days, and as is typical of a self-analytical, somewhat narcissistic human, I reflected on it all, on my 26th birthday, and looked back to see what my biggest learnings were, but also what these will teach me about the next chapter to come.
PS. I seriously don't believe I have anything truly worked out, I make a whole lot of mistakes and I'm definitely not enlightened, but these are my "AHA" moments from along the way!
Screw the plan
I like to have a plan. Always. I like knowing where I need to be and when (so that I can then be 15 minutes early to be safe) and then I like to make sure everyone else around me has the plan drilled into their heads so that everything can just be perfect. What I think this does – minimises risks and space for disappointment. What this ACTUALLY does? Stresses me out to the max, builds up expectations of perfection and limits the room for the spontaneous magic. I’m not saying ditch all the plans, but it is about loosening the grip to allow Flow to enter. Life has the ability to change in a moment, that’s the beauty of it, and accepting that enables plans to take on a fluid nature, rather than being written in concrete. It also then takes you leaps and bounds away from any outdated, ridiculous social comments on when you should supposedly be taking “big life steps". The journey isn’t linear, it shifts and changes, priorities change and decisions are made to best enhance life, not because of some menial outdated idea of what life should look like.
Sit in the uncomfortable
The sticky, gritty times where life has felt like huge struggle and it feels like I’m pushing against a dead end, are the times I’ve come out with the most growth and development. Why? Because I’ve been forced to sit in my mess and acknowledge many of my very human flaws. It’s not easy, confronting aspects of yourself that you’re not proud of – my stubborn streak, tendency to flare up in defence or to always think of the worst case scenario first – however what it does, is makes you figure out how the hell to get out of it, to see the signs for next time, or to realise that maybe you are just wrong and it’s time to apologise. Which ultimately can only lead to a stronger character, increased spirit of perseverance and a healthy dose of reality and self-critique.
Take the risky option
While I don’t have that adrenaline junkie, dare devil switch to go around throwing myself out of planes and free falling to earth, I do believe in and act upon taking the big, bold risks that feel scary AF. It’s that thing of “feel the fear and do it anyway” and I’ve always backed myself that taking a risky leap will pay off. To differing degrees, it has always had spectacular outcomes – whether than has been in serendipitous opportunities being presented, in a “failing” which has then altered my path to somewhere even better than I could have planned, or in the fact that choosing the less comfortable, risky option led to a chance encounter that ended with me meeting my other half. There’s always going to be someone telling you it’s a bad idea, the negative possible outcomes or even how stupid you could be to take those risks, but sometimes, you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit.
Your gut is always right
The intuition of the gut, is always, always correct. Whether you are connected to that instinct or not is another issue, but that intuitive push and pull from your centre, always leads you to the place that the noisy head or floozy heart are too clouded to see. For this reason, taking any steps necessary to connect back into yourself are always a priority. The times I’ve lost my way the most; feeling the most confused or overwhelmed, was when I wasn’t looking inwards for the answers, but seeking external validation, response or inspiration. When really, the gut knows.
True friendship takes work
I’ve been reading recently lots about the seasons of friendships and how it’s okay to have friendships that burn brightly before fading away. In an modern life where we are surrounded by lots of likes but also a lot of loneliness, I'm grateful that I have found true friendships along the way. My closest relationships have come from varying stages in life – from playgroup, to high school, uni, or travels, and these girls aren’t within one group who hang out together all the time. In fact - the majority of the time we are at least a 6 hour plane ride away, on at least 3 different continents. Separation, location, time differences, romantic relationships, life circumstances – they all change the landscape of friendship, but the thing that truly stays is the investment in each other. When you lose the ease of simply being in each other’s pockets, physically, for 8 hours everyday, you have the carve out the space to be on both sides of the friendship. And in our busy lives, that takes some effort! The payoff though? The best reunions imaginable where it feels like no time has passed at all.
Your health is truly the most important thing of all
It seems like something preached to you your whole life, but truly, a healthy body AND mind, is the most important aspect of your life that should be a priority every single day. That doesn’t mean strict clean eating and a rigorous, punishing training schedule, (in fact nowadays it can be quite the opposite!) it means finding what works for you, stepping away from the bullshit trends and social media noise, tuning into your body and addressing, holistically, what you need to be at optimal health. A key element of this is reducing stress and anxiety and looking for some form of balance. So yes, some days that may be a stack of pancakes with ice-cream as the healthier option for your mind or a sweat inducing HIIT session being the needed option if you've avoided cardio for the past month. My personal health journey is my constant prioritisation, and I’m fully invested in it. For me, I make those choices as I know how easy ill-health is to slip into and the future ramifications I may have if I don’t address issues of my health now. It surely isn’t perfect and I indulge myself a little too often, but educating myself, reaching out for help, making smarter choices and sweating often always mean I’m respecting my body and mind.
The past 5 years have delivered me to a place that I could not even have dreamt of finding. Is it what I envisaged? Not in the slightest. Have I done all I wanted? No, yes and more than I thought possible. Is it perfect? Hell no. But what it truly is, is something better than those ghastly ‘What is your 5, 10, 15 year goal’ setting sessions from school could have predicted.
It’s been an adventure marked with brutal, enlightening & heart lifting lessons. The curveballs have blinded me in the moment and then shone a light on my weaknesses as a place to grow. The deepest, darkest moments allowed me to then sparkle and appreciate the highs when out the other side. The opportunities have taken my breath away and the sense of serendipitous magic of it all has been a voyage of learning that has just ever so slightly, helped me to begin to learn about who I am.
Bring on the rest of it I say! xx