Life Lessons From My First 30 Years

I know I look 16 😂

Photo by the author


Mindset

Sometimes, the biggest obstacle we face is the fear of being seen. At work, in romance, with friends, creatively, or otherwise. Letting ourselves be vulnerable can be the first step toward releasing shame and finding genuine connection. There’s no better feeling than to be wholeheartedly seen and accepted for all that you are.

Your past and your future exist only in your mind. Memory is fickle and malleable. The past affects you based on how you relate to it and your future includes your hopes and dreams. Past memories are unreliable and the future is up to chance. Be mindful of what you’ve created in your mind because they still influence how you spend your present.

There’s no such thing as an ideal life. Only an ideal life for you. Beyond having basic needs met, an ideal life is subjective. Some people want kids, others don’t. Some people want to travel. Others don’t. It’s okay to know what you want and have that differ from person to person.

Money is an instrument, a tool. It’s not evil and has no value other than the one it’s assigned. E.g., $100 can be a lot or little depending on who you ask. It’s a lot if I find it on the street, and not if I worked for a week in my opinion. Money is designed for transactions. It’s healthy to desire money in exchange for what it affords you and for the value you provide.

People who start over are the most courageous. Whether it’s divorce, a breakup, a career pivot, immigration, moving cities, whatever the case may be. It takes immense resilience and adaptability to have faith and embrace uncertainty when you start your life anew.

Some things can’t be taught. Some things must be learned and internalized through personal experience and growing pains. Other lessons can be learned by watching other people’s mistakes. Otherwise, learn the hard way.

The purpose of life is not to “find happiness”. It’s to feel the full range of the human experience. Joy, pain, laughter, struggle, resilience, love, hurt, and so much more. The purpose of life is to witness the duality of the human experience and find a balance within it, which can lead to an appreciation, and better yet, a mastery.

Joy is something you choose, not something you chase. Joy is something to cultivate, observe, and make time and space for. Joy is something to recognize, identify, and appreciate when it’s there. Joy is softer yet more profound than happiness. Joy is intentional. Small things can spark joy, even — and especially — amidst the hectic, distracting chaos of daily life.


Relationships

It’s normal to outgrow old friends. Especially after physical distance or evolving life stages. Not every old friendship needs to rekindle. You can still acknowledge, honor, and appreciate the role they played in your life and the impact they made on you from afar. Present-day contact is not the only criteria on who mattered or matters to you.

Relationships can’t be forced. You can try to form a connection by reaching out, but the other party must reciprocate with mutual and equal enthusiasm. Read the room.

Grown people set boundaries. No people-pleasing. No holding it in to have it fester and worsen down the line. Grown people speak their needs (with love) out of self-awareness. Teach others how you want to be treated. Communicate and enforce. Expect defensiveness — it’s an ego thing. Many can’t and won’t respect them, but if they do, they understand.

No one belongs on a pedestal. Admire from afar and even be inspired. But anyone worthy of praise hates being placed on a pedestal. Take it from me, someone who grew up hearing: “You’ll be a millionaire some day” or “the next President of the United States” (I wasn’t even born here). People are human. They will struggle, make mistakes, and the pedestal you placed them on will come crashing down. Save the disappointment. Ditch the pedestal. Treat people as equals.

Everyone claims to know you once you succeed. Everyone wants to be your friend when they see a taste of your success. Few get a glimpse of the blood, sweat, and tears behind closed doors. Only the real ones witness the climb. Once you peak and ascend the summit, everyone wants a piece of your success.

It takes years to make a single good friend. I moved across cities, states, countries, and continents seven times by the time I turned 30. I made at least one lifelong friend in each chapter, and on average, it’s taken at least 3 years to find a real one. If you want a friend, be one: help out, share, listen, reach out, show up, be present, empathize, sympathize, and spend time together. See how friends reciprocate.


Spirituality

When you deprive yourself of your greatest desires, you deprive the world of what it wants from you. The world wants you to succeed. The world wants to embrace, receive, learn, and heal from your talents. You have to be willing to work, sacrifice, and struggle for the right things for you, and stay laser-focused on getting what you want and why.

Life is an amalgamation of everyday moments. Every moment of every day is the way you experience life. Life happens on a micro level in every breath you take on a moment-by-moment basis. Your present presence is the only thing that dictates how and what you’re doing, feeling, and being.

Most people live unconsciously. Their actions and choices are robotic and programmed to fit in a system that benefits who it’s built by and for. Nothing’s wrong with living in the dark. But once you awake, it’s impossible to unsee, at which point you have to live your life according to the game, system, and simulation within which you exist.

People are mirrors. When someone doesn’t like you, perhaps they see something in you they don’t want to see (or refuse to see) in themselves. They subconsciously project themselves onto you — their insecurities, greatest fears. At day’s end, we all serve as witnesses to each other’s journeys, reflecting (or projecting) ourselves onto one another. We hold up a mirror to ourselves and each other. Discern.

The path of least resistance leads to minimal regrets. The more resistance you face in the form of closed doors, the worse things spiral downward. Once you take yourself where your feet drag less so they can dance more, you expand into your full potential. The path of least resistance is not without struggle, fear, or self-doubt. It’s simply the one that minimizes regret.


Health

Prioritizing mental health gets you farther than any goal or ambition. Without your health, you have nothing. You can’t contribute or receive. Journal, meditate, go for walks, move your body, stretch, connect with friends and loved ones, go to therapy, read books, gain perspective, and give yourself a break every single day. It all adds up.

Your body communicates how it feels. You need to listen to your body. Aches and pains can manifest when you’re unwell mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Tending to your body and understanding what it tells you (move, get out, change) will allow you to make decisions with more clarity and insight and hopefully, more intention toward your ideal life.

The way you speak to yourself can make or break your day (and therefore your life). The way you talk to yourself impacts your self-confidence. From the outside, you could have had a perfectly positive day, but depending on your inner critic, that day could also have been miserable on the inside. Speak kindly to yourself. You deserve it.


Work

Showing up is half the battle. Learning something new takes time to master. Showing up to practice is the first step toward getting good. You get good once you get going. And to get going, you just have to show up again and again.

Know when to quit or pivot. It’s great to try new things and experiment. You gather data as you go. Sometimes, things don’t turn out as expected or your metrics of success are not being met. It’s okay to pivot, change, or quit. In fact, the sooner you recognize that need, the more adaptable you become and the better off you’ll be in the long run.

How you tell your story impacts how others perceive you. If you put yourself down and treat yourself poorly, people will subconsciously view less of you. If you’re boastful and arrogant, another flavor of insecurity, it turns people off too. Tell your story with confidence and honesty, and help others see you for all that you are.


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One response to “Life Lessons From My First 30 Years”

  1. Thanks for calling me courageous, lol, since I’ve switched careers more times than I can count. Great lessons here, and happy birthday (or belated birthday)!

    I also agree that life is just one big ‘present’ moment, and trying to live in the past or future is not productive in the slightest. Now is where we have the most power, and now is where we should focus on, as cliched as that sounds. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Like

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