In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.
I turned 35 today. I wrote about it earlier this year. I feel really good about it. I’ve done so much in my life already, more than the average human, and that makes me feel proud and satisfied. I’ve also fucked up (a lot) and made some big mistakes in my life that have changed my life for the better.
I thought I’d share them with you today. Maybe you’ve made the same mistakes. Or maybe you can skip making them and just learn from mine.
1. Loving too much. While I do believe that love is the answer to almost everything, it also has to be balanced. I tried to save my mother with love, and didn’t work. I got into the wrong relationships and they didn’t work. It wasn’t until I learned that love alone isn’t enough, that I understood what love really is.
2. Dishonouring my boundaries. It’s still something I’m working on, boundaries were non-existent in my life a few years ago. As a recovering ‘rescuer’ I’m learning how to identify boundaries as a safe container for self-love while also taking risks.
3. Believing in external security. Our society loves to pump us full of promises that we will find a sense of security out there if we follow the rules and buy the things. Get a job, and get married and you’ll feel secure. Lies. People get fired and divorced all the time. Buy our insurance and get all the fancy things and you will feel secure. Lies. Insurance doesn’t pay for acts of god, and acts of god often vanquish our fancy things. Real security comes from knowing, loving and accepting oneself. And staying open and flexible with the ever-changing nature of life.
4. Fighting for things to go my way. When we soften, the world softens. If you are fighting, and it isn’t working — try softening. This is where you learn to go with the flow.
5. Not trusting. The signs, the people with good advice, the support networks all around. I didn’t realise that these where all here to guide my way and take care of me. Trust is the highest currency of the heart. Use it generously and wisely.
6. Being afraid of being ‘weak’. In the meantime I’ve discovered that vulnerability is a superpower. When I am vulnerable, open, honest — I am stronger than anything that might be in my way.
7. Wanting to ‘find myself’. Finding myself actually showed me that I was never lost. What was lost is a sense of certainty in myself. But uncertainty is a gift: it breeds skepticism, it breeds openness and it breeds non-judgement. It helps you grow and evolve.
8. Needing to know all the answers. So instead I’ve learned the art of not having to know. And I let it all be. And just keep moving. It’s much more fun, this way.
9. Being too hard on my self. It is atrocious, the demands and expectations we place on ourselves. Since I’ve let go, I’ve achieved and done more than I ever did when I gave myself a hard time.
10. Waiting for external validation. When instead, it’s up to you (and me) to decide: you are fucking awesome.
11. Getting caught up in eating trends. The green smoothies. The paleo. The vegan thing. The all or nothing. The raw till 4. Fuck that shit. Eat what your body wants to eat. Eat things that are alive. Avoid boxes and packaging. It’s that simple.
12. Being addicted to stress. Gah! I’m still working on that one. It’s cellular. But I’m getting better and better at relaxing and enjoying the simple, little things, every day.
13. Thinking that who you spend time with, doesn’t matter. I had this crazy belief that I could overcome any negative person with my positive energy. But man is that exhausting! And you just end up giving away your energy. Now I’m very, very selective and adhere to the rule: the 5 people closest to you are a representation of who you are; and choose to spend my time with people who uplift me and encourage me to shine brighter.
14. Putting joy at the bottom of my essentials list. My upbringing was all about putting others first. Martyrdom before joy. Many of us have been taught that. But the moment I made joy a non-negotiable, I started living the life I always dreamed of.
15. Waiting for permission. How often do we wait for someone to say “yes” to what we want to do? Too often. That’s how often. You don’t need permission. If it lights you up, do it. End of discussion.
16. Being afraid to speak my truth. Because no-one wants to hear what I have to say, right? Don’t want to upset the god-damn boat, do we?! Wrong. No-body cares what you say, but saying what it truth for you, is ground-breaking.
17. Having grandiose fears of being punished. Just in case the entire world is out to punish me for innumerable sins, I would hide away. And then I realised, hey — we’re all sinners! And stopped that.
18. Doing the ‘nice girl’ thing. For many years I thought that in order to get the things you want, you had to play the ‘nice girl’ card. But being nice, is suffocating. It’s stifling. It’s soul-murder. Don’t be nice, be you.
19. Believing that everyone else has the answer. Guess what?! Everyone’s making it up, just like you. So no more of that, thank you very much.
20. Shrinking, because I’m a woman. I love men. This is not about them. It’s about the social conditioning to be less than men, because I’m a woman. This is not helpful and true, for anyone. There is not better. Men are men. Women are women. We show up in our individual ways. Be who you are. Stand tall and proud and do what you want to do.
21. Waiting for someone else to take care of my finances. I grew up in a world where money was ‘the mans realm’. It’s almost like I grew up in the 1940’s. Lady, did I have to break down some social conditioning to get through that mountain of a molehill! Now, I very happily am in charge, and my money mound is healthily expanding.
22. Blaming others, or circumstances for my woes. Learning to take 100% responsibility for my well-being and happiness has been the best lesson ever. Now, whenever I want to point my finger out into the world, I take that finger and point it straight back at me and ask “What can I do right now, to change this / make this better / choose something else?”. Simple, easy, mind-blowing.
23. Being scared to piss people off. But being a people-pleaser is social suicide, and at some point, we are all going to do things that others don’t like. And that’s ok.
24. Expecting others to just ‘know’ what I need. These lips didn’t know how to ask for what I need, or communicate what my boundaries are, because I thought, for too long, that we all work on an equal assumption of what we all need and what everyone’s boundaries are. Not so however.
25. Feeling guilty when things are going great. It’s almost like I would expect someone to come along and show me that I didn’t deserve all the awesome. Enjoy your awesome, people! You deserve every ounce of it. Own it. It’s yours.
26. Being afraid to set real, definite goals. Call them intentions if you wish. Or dreams. But essentially, I was so afraid of failure, I wouldn’t put my big dreams in motion and hence miss out on multitudes of opportunities, that the universe is constantly gifting us with.
27. Having FOMO. The fear of missing out is so real, that sometimes we say “yes” to things that should definitely be a “no”. It’s so wonderful to have the wisdom I have now: that everything is happening at just the perfect time, and what is for you, won’t pass you by.
28. Bulldozing past my energy levels. I’d push and push and push until I fell into a heap of exhaustion. It’s not okay. Now, I protect my energy levels, my time and space, like a spiritual ninja.
29. Giving away my power to situations I cannot control. What I can control is myself, and how I choose to show up in this world. You too? Perhaps now is the time to start asking yourself, what kind of legacy and impact do you want to leave behind in the world… Write it down, map it out, and turn it into a plan by breaking it down into daily micro-actions that result in re-creating your life and telling a new story.
30. Trying to do everything the ‘right’ way. As if there is a right way. Ha!
31. Confusing my identity with my work. The part of you that equates your sense of worth with “what you do” is your ego.
32. Confusing my output with my worth. The part of you that equates your worth with “how hard you work” is also your ego.
33. Thinking that ‘more is better’. It’s not. More is more. This is better: what is necessary, for this to be at its ultimate, most essential, best? That is all that’s required. Magic. Love. Work. Worth.
34. Holding on too long, to people who didn’t deserve it. I think that’s a mistake we all make at some point. Letting go, letting go, letting. There’s purification and expansion in knowing when to let go.
35. Copying others because my art didn’t feel ‘enough’. When I first started writing, I would copy others’ words down into a notepad to see what it feels like to write words that meant something. It took me a long time to trust and like my own art and voice. I did the same thing when I was learning to draw. I would take sketches that I loved and draw them myself until their art felt like my art. I’m doing the same as I’m learning to sing. I hear a voice and imitate it until I can’t tell if it’s my voice or theirs. Part of this is learning, part of this is hiding because owning what you have, doesn’t feel ‘enough’. Holding back my own art, and copying others is both detrimental and helpful. Knowing when and where to draw the line, is the difference between stealing and learning.