Something just clicked.
I’ve been putting together a giant metaphorical puzzle for years, and I can finally see the picture.
I recently celebrated my thirty-eighth birthday.
How did that come around so fast?
I thought turning thirty-eight would make me feel sad (like when I cried on my thirtieth birthday), but thankfully it didn’t.
Here are the things I’ve learnt and reflecting on during my thirty-eighth rotation around the sun.
- Happy being me
I am peaceful, calm and content.
Many of my friends would struggle to associate these three words with me 😜
As a young adult, I had a fiery disposition. I was short-tempered, loud, opinionated and several other negative words that make me wince.
Through my twenties and early thirties, I had a constant battle with depression.
At one point I thought that was how I would feel for the rest of my life and the depression would last forever.
Now, as I move into my late thirties, and as a result of all my previous experiences, I have reached a sense of calm. It happened several months ago, there was an actual click. Finally, I knew everything would be ok.
the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.Oxford Languages
Ancient Greek philosophy is popping up in modern-day teachings more and more with books like The Art of Resilience by Ross Edgley. (Highly recommended book by the way!)
I learnt how to become more stoic when rowing across the Atlantic Ocean – certain things happened that I never believed I could tolerate but I did, and as a result, it improved me.
I now do my best to be a stoic. I’m still learning and far from being an expert, but am an improved version of my younger self.
3. Discipline, Acceptance and Compassion
Have the discipline to make a decision and stick to the process – whether that’s a fitness regime, work goals or self-development.
Life does not go to plan – things break (physical items, relationships, emotions) but acceptance is the key.
When I have a bad day I know it will pass. I may not know how long the suffering will last but I know it will not go on forever. Accepting that always eases the pain.
Showing compassion and understanding in all situations, even when the situation is not understood.
Here is an example from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
A man is on the subway whilst his two children run up and down making a lot of noise. The children are disturbing the other passengers and some begin to get annoyed.
One passenger wants to tell the man to take control of his children but instead decides to ask him if he is ok. The man then explains that his wife just passed away and that he and the children are on their way home and he doesn’t know what to do. He can’t think straight.
This powerful story demonstrates we never truly know what is going on in someone’s life or head.
Showing compassion in all situations would make the world a far more peaceful place.
4. Ambitions are to be chased
I am an only child so had the luxury of my parents attention and finance as I was growing up. Saying that, I do not come from a wealthy family – both parents worked hard to keep me doing my hobbies.
My parents split up when I was seven, which I am only now learning played a huge (negative) impact on my views about love and relationships.
I went to a grammar school and was very good at practical lessons such as music, dance, art, and was naturally gifted at maths.
The Education System taught me to find something I was good at, make a career from it and stick to it. So I did that, and in the process, a fire inside of me fizzled out.
Only now as I approach forty has that fire re-ignited and I am following what I am naturally passionate and talented at. And as a result, I am doing what I love and feel some of the best I have ever felt in my adult life.
5. Importance of reading and writing
I do not mean this in an academic way.
I have never been a keen (or very good) reader, even as a child. I was only interested in dancing and making art.
During English classes, I doodled in my workbook and gazed out the window. I never read the books we had to study.
This year (2020) I started reading before going to bed.
Reading makes me REALLY tired which means it takes me weeks to get through a book. However, the more I do it the easier it gets, plus I am learning things I’m interested in and winding down before I sleep.
I have been journaling most mornings since 2017.
I didn’t enjoy writing at school and wasn’t very good at it.
Recently I started a 12-week creative writing course to unleash my creativity, which seems ironic for someone who doesn’t enjoy writing. But this kind of writing isn’t like what we are taught in school. Each morning I hand-write three pages of the things that are in my head – I can write whatever I want.
This process is extremely therapeutic and I’d go as far to say it is the best form of therapy I have ever done.
Journalling has become a part of my life and I cannot imagine life without it.
Putting an actual pen to actual paper, and emptying the brain of those weird thoughts is one of the most powerful practices I do.
Most of my ideas come from my journal.
All of my troubles and concerns go into my journal.
If I can’t make a decision on something I write about it in my journal.
If you are keen to find out what journalling is and how to do it click here.
I’ve written this blog as a way to reflect on what I have learnt over the last few years. Maybe I will read it back in the future. Hey, I think I might even turn this into a thing and do it every year!
There are times when I wish that I could have known all this years ago, but then I realise I couldn’t have rushed it. It’s a bit like slack-lining – if you’ve done slacklining, you’ll know you can’t rush the learning process.
Happy thirty-eighth birthday me – I am proud of what you have done, what you are doing and that body of yours is one seriously awesome machine!
Here are some books I have referenced and highly recommend: