2016 has been the year of extremes and for the most part it hasn’t been the ‘greatest’ year. However, it was a milestone year for me – I turned 35 and in that, I realized that I had a pretty great life, even if at times it felt like I was at the point of no return. Of course, 2016 has been the year of unprecedented number of deaths – Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Cristina Grimmie, to name a few – Google says that there have been 76 so far. There’s also been one of the greatest upsets in world history – Donald Trump being elected as President of the United States so yes, it’s been a crazy ride so far.
But in all of this madness I discovered that there is beauty, and happiness and something positive. I did some soul-searching and some quiet reflection and I came up with a list of things that I learnt as I’ve progressed through my 35th year:
35 does NOT mean you’re ‘over the hill’ or past the age of marriage
Age is just a number. Wouldn’t you rather find the proverbial perfect fit for you rather than succumb to societal pressure and marry the one they think is right for you? Rather than being stuck in a loveless marriage – because divorce is still not something that’s looked upon kindly – wouldn’t you wait and be with that person that makes your world really complete? YES.
I’ve iterated this point a fair few times and I will reiterate it again – traveling alone is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world. Choosing a destination that you haven’t been to, exploring the culture and soaking in the sights, and finding time to be with yourself is a breath of fresh air. It is quite the journey of rediscovery, and at times you will end up surprising yourself, in a good way.
Don’t ever succumb yourself by becoming a victim of emotional abuse.
There are several definitions of emotional abuse but in a nutshell it simply means that in a relationship the partner begins to make you feel useless, worthless, and shatters your self-esteem and confidence, making you question yourself and your actions. I mistook these signs as him wanting me to be a better version of myself, but in hindsight, he used every tactic to make me feel completely inadequate. Don’t let anyone make you feel small and insignificant, they don’t care about you – they just need someone malleable to mold to their convenience.
Spending just a little more time with the family
I’ve always been a family girl, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that time with mom and dad is ever so precious. I don’t know where life is going to take me, so I utilize a part of my weekend to spend time with them – by having a lunch date with them every Saturday, taking mom shopping or just doing little things around the house with them. I know they mean well, so even if it feels that they’re constantly going on about stuff, I just laugh and smile with them, rather than argue. It makes home life that much more peaceful. And they appreciate it.
I’ve stopped trying to be a people-pleaser
My school days shaped a core of what my life has become today – as someone constantly made fun of, I tried everything to ‘fit in’. Through most of my 20’s and up until very recently I tried to do everything that would make people be happy with me, and make them like me rather than doing something I wanted to do. Sometimes it worked well, but most of the time I felt like I was living for other people, rather than myself. Now, I do things for ME, rather than everyone else. I feel that much happier and satisfied.
I don’t over think every tiny detail
This was one thing I realized that was keeping me from having good healthy relationships. Instead of spending time fretting and worrying over every tiny thing, I’ve started going with the flow – My friend is having a bad day today, I’ll ask her if she’s okay – rather than me thinking, ‘Why is she upset? What did I say? Did I offend her? Damn I know it’s my fault.’ Just, let go. There are plenty of bigger things to worry about so why burden yourself and those around you with pointless things that are probably really just a figment of your imagination? It’s going to harm you and your relationships with other people.
Smile a bit more
Okay sure, this seems a bit far fetched but I’ve found that a smile is more rewarding than we like to think. Having a bad day? Everything seems to be going wrong? Think of one good moment in your life. I’d be damned if that didn’t make you smile. Every time you feel low, try this. And you’ll see how infectious that smile really is.
It’s always healthy in indulge in humorous banter and exchanges
Sometimes you just end up laughing a hell of a lot more when you exchange in healthy, yet humorous banter. I have found that when you use the tiniest of self-deprecating humor, it’s a lot of fun and it keeps conversation light.
I don’t give up at the chance of finding a real relationship
You’d think that after the rubbish I’ve had to go through I’d say enough is enough and love is overrated, but funnily enough, I haven’t given up. At the time of my breakup and the subsequent bad news I got thereafter, I did think I wasn’t ‘worthy’ of finding love, but I’ve kept my possibilities open, and I haven’t gone actively looking for it, but allowed myself to let things unfold when they need to. I still believe that all these bad relationships have paved the way for the best one yet – the one that will make me truly happy.
The best laid plans sometimes don’t work out, and that’s OKAY
A very dear friend of mine told me that sometimes plans just don’t seem to go the way we anticipated they would and that’s perfectly alright and improvisation is the key. Following that mantra, I found that even though the plans I had laid out for myself didn’t quite follow through, there is something positive coming out of all of this, and I turned the situation around to make the most of it. And so far, it’s working pretty well.
I chased my dreams
I took that step. I applied for my Masters in Education so that I could further enhance my career and become a more well-rounded individual. It’s never too late to add another accolade to your repertoire, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
I picked up a new language
Following my trip to Italy earlier this year, I fell in love with the language and the culture. After I returned home, I enrolled for an Italian language course and have been learning and practicing ever since. It’s rewarding and it’s super fun! Benissimo!
I started playing around with my style
Believe me, nothing is a bigger picker-upper than having fun with hair, clothes and makeup. This year itself, I’ve hacked off over 9 inches of my hair, gotten myself a short bob, dyed my hair a deep purple, bought some fun new clothes, and played around with some new makeup. And it gives me a great little confidence boost.
I reassessed my relationships with people
I’ve been lucky enough to have a really great group of friends that have stuck around through all my strange phases – but of course I’ve had to reassess some of the ones that have been having a slightly dampening effect. I treasure my friendships dearly, but I’ve seen that there are people who have brought me down and I’ve decided to let them go, in that, if they aren’t going to have a positive impact in my life, I cannot have them around me on a daily basis.
I’ve made friends that have brought out the best in me
By now, most of you know that I met Austin in the summer when he came to work at my school for 3 months. His personality, his zest for life, and his constant positivity was infectious and it rubbed off on me. He made me love life again, and he made me believe that I am the queen of my castle and nobody and nothing can ever bring me down. We have an everlasting bond that I know will continue even if I’m old and grey with 20 cats and he’s gallivanting all over the world.
I strengthened my friendships with people
There have been people who have come into my life that I am forever grateful for. Some of these people have boosted my confidence (Diana that’s you!), they made me see that there is good all around and they made feel like I could do anything I set my heart to.
I took the time to apologize to people I missed
Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control we fight with people that we care about deeply. They walk out of our lives for a period of time and someone has to make that first move and that doesn’t make you small. So one day, while I was sitting with a friend in Amsterdam, I texted a very dear friend of mine and apologized to her, and said I wanted to make things alright again. It felt even more rewarding when she replied saying she missed me, and well, the rest they say, is history.
For every one negative thought I had, I thought of three positive things
“Does he like me?” “Is she mad at me?” “Everything is going wrong!” Every time something like this came into my head, I started thinking of three wonderfully positive things that have happened in my life and just like that, the bad thoughts are gone and I’m in my happy place again. Try it, it works.
I started being more grateful for everything I have
We take having a roof over our heads, food on our plates, money in our pockets and jobs that we may or may not love for granted. I took the time out to really appreciate how fortunate I am for all of this. So what if things aren’t always smooth sailing? I have all of this plus two great parents that would do anything for me, and have given me the best that they could, how can I not be happy with all of this?
I started pursuing things I love again
I love to write. I took a big hiatus from writing in the dance music industry because of my job and because I always felt I was never good enough. But, I know that my former editors and writing colleagues have expressed that I couldn’t be further from the truth so I’ve decided to jump back in. I’m doing this for me, and if people have a problem with it, it’s not for me to worry about.
I took the time to focus on myself and being happy
On the surface, I was laughing, but inside I was miserable. A lot had to do with some of my past relationships. I decided to not let that deter me and I started focusing on myself and realizing that happiness comes from within. That only I can make myself happy and I started focusing on doing just that. And I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders and there’s a skip in my step, and truly, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, as long as it makes ME happy.
I started opening up to my parents again
Over the last couple of years I found that I had closed off from my mom and dad and I stopped confiding in them. After my break up, I sat down with my mom and told her everything. She didn’t say a word, and just let me talk… and in the end the only thing she said was, “I am so glad you told me everything, I just wish you had told me sooner.” and that’s when I realized, she just wanted to be part of my life and be there for me when I was going through hell. And since then I’ve been talking to her about everything in my life. And it feels so great.
I let go of everything weighing me down
Eckhart Tolle emphasized that living in now is so important. We can’t live in our past and dwell on it to the point that it consumes us. Living in our past makes us miss the beautiful opportunities that are right in front of us in our present and they zoom by if we don’t open our eyes and see how amazing the present truly is. Following this mantra, I let go. I live in the now and believe me, I’ve grabbed more opportunities than I ever thought possible, and it is truly one of the happiest times in my life.
I began believing in myself again
I lost myself in a big way. I stopped thinking I was a good person. I stopped thinking I could do anything I set my mind to. I stopped thinking I was worthy of love, or worthy of anything for that matter. After taking a step back, and spending time with myself, I realized I had become this person because of certain people who had a toxic effect in my life. And even if they were gone, I let them still influence my thoughts. Once I let go, I saw semblances of the person I was before I lost myself and it has made me become a better person. And a happier version of myself.
I am who I am today because I chose to make changes in my life, for ME
It’s NEVER too late to make a change in life and once I began believing that, I see myself shine. I see myself become the person I want to be, and I see myself being confident, independent, strong and fierce. I see people around me who have begun to appreciate me because I don’t hold back, and I don’t put up a facade anymore. Once you truly believe that you want to make a positive change in your life, everything else falls into place and everything you ever wanted, comes to you in ways you least expect.
You MADE IT TO THE END!
I really hope that this not-so-little piece made you feel good and inspired you to do whatever great you wanted with your life. Life is so short, we never know what’s going to happen, and one thing that is key is to LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Embrace everything amazing about your life because you are beautiful. Don’t ever sell yourself short, and remember, be FIERCE.
Until next time,