I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these past few weeks. It always seems that right before a big transition or move in your life, we reflect a lot on the past and where we are presently…and what it all means to us moving forward.
In this past year and a half, I’ve learned a lot. About myself, about others. What I want to do, what I don’t want to do. What I like to do, what I really don’t like to do. What’s important to me and what I couldn’t care less about. I’ve been happily single, happily not single. Felt completely fulfilled and then completely empty and lost. Cried tears of joy, tears of anger, tears of sadness and tears of laughter. Had countless new experiences and countless days to realize I actually like my routine. Made some bad decisions and some good ones. Drank tequila like it was my job and chugged water the next day as if my life depended on it. Had moments where I knew exactly what I was doing and moments where I couldn’t find the strength or motivation to move from my “beached whale” position face down on my carpet pondering the meaning of life.
All in all, I’ve learned a lot this past year. Here are the 15 things I’ve come to realize:
1. You find happiness and fulfillment from within, not outside of you. Finding yourself is an inside job and won’t happen by constantly jumping from one place, job, person or thing to another. If you are feeling unsettled, vulnerable and like there is a void in your life, it won’t be solved or filled by changing your external environment. It may help for a while, it may ease those emotions and provide temporary relief, but those kinds of feelings need to be settled from within, not outside of you.
2. Everyone has a different version of happiness. What makes me happy from the inside out can be completely different from the next person. And that’s a beautiful thing. If we all were made happy by the exact same things, where would our unique energy for life go? Remember this lesson when you are giving advice to someone about their life and what you think they should do…their path to happiness may not be the same as yours. And remember this too when receiving advice from another person…What made and makes them happy (decisions, actions, experiences) may not be what makes you happy. That’s ok. Find and create your own happy.
3. Peace comes from within you, not from outside of you. Sure, it’s easier to be zen in a zen space, but you can still experience chaos in your mind when you’re in a tranquil environment. Same goes for feeling calm and at peace when you’re in a hectic, stressful environment. Not ideal for the long-run, of course. But when you’re seriously at peace with yourself, your life and present situation, sirens, shitty bus rides, crazy people yelling at you and long, slow-moving lines at the grocery store don’t screw with your zen. Find silence and peace within you and not only will you see it outside of you, you’ll react to things with that peaceful mindset, no matter where you are.
4. Go with your gut. Always. Whether it’s a feeling about a person, place, thing, job, experience, environment, decision…ALWAYS. GO. WITH. YOUR. GUT. It’s that tiny, intuitive voice that comes from your heart and belly. It NEVER steers you wrong. Even if you can’t explain it or justify it to someone else (although you shouldn’t have to justify your feelings to anyone, ever), don’t go against it. It is divine, intuitive, Universe-sent wisdom that will have a profound impact on your life. It’s there for a reason. Like, I’m seriously wanting to put the fear of God in you right now to never abandon those gut feelings. Your intuition/gut is your first brain. Your real brain is, well, second.
5. Revealing and sharing your vulnerability, even if it’s in hopes to inspire and help other people, can make those closest to you uncomfortable. That discomfort can be manifested in anger, misunderstanding, worry, control, patronizing, disrespect and scorn. Anything that brings you down. Even if those reactions are meant out of love and protection for you, it can hurt. So share your heart and vulnerability wisely, with an audience and community that you hope to inspire and that you know will support you and raise you up even higher. On our path to greatness and happiness, we don’t need those kinds of negative ego-triggers (i.e. people who don’t understand or appreciate your vulnerability and message.) There will be a time when you can share with them, or maybe not. But don’t ever dull your shine to avoid negative reactions from certain people. Block their negativity, whether it’s through your sparkly energy field or the Facebook privacy settings, and keep doing YOU. #forrealztho
6. Self pity gets you no where. Wallowing in your shit without doing anything to clean it up is about as productive as drunk texting. (Read: not productive at all.) You can feel bad, be sad, be angry and resentful…feel those feelings, you’re human for God’s sake. But then, move on. Take action to make changes. If you’re upset about something in your life or if you’re wallowing in self-pity over how things never work out for you, you don’t like your job, you can never lose weight, you don’t have self-control, you had a bad childhood….figure out those feelings and do something about it. You and your life are worth so much more than a crappy song being played on repeat. Here’s my opinion: If you’re constantly complaining about something(s) but not doing anything to change it, shut up and stop complaining. #realtalk But if you complain (again, we’re human) and then DO something about it, great. Keep going.
7. There is no one right path for everyone. There’s the societal/family norm and expectations and then there is your path. It is yours and yours alone, so follow it. Everyone’s path is different, and whatever they do is right for them in that time. Just because society dictates a certain way you should go about your life, doesn’t mean that’s necessarily right for you or even what you want to do. But sometimes it is! It’s all up to you. Your life, YOUR path, your decisions. As long as you support yourself, do good in this world and are happy and fulfilled, you’re all set (IMHO). Take time to find out what path is right for you…journal, meditate, talk to a objective third-party, but make sure to clarify your voice. No matter how well-intentioned those other voices, expectations and opinions are in your mind, clear them out, you don’t need them. Don’t go through your life based on what other people expect you to do. Last I checked, it’s YOUR life…go have fun with it!
8. Limitations are in our mindset, in our emotional experiences and what we’ve been taught by family and society (consciously and subconsciously). If you want to work past those limitations, you have to go through the process of poking around in those sometimes deep/dark places that we’d rather leave alone. It may not be a walk in the park, but in order to heal, transform, grow, be happy and fulfilled and see your life flourish, you have to get your hands dirty. Consistently. But you know what else will be consistent then? Your happiness and self-awareness, growing and growing. Everyday. Read personal development, see a counselor, attend seminars, listen to podcasts, seek spiritual advice and surround yourself with an uplifting community…this will raise your vibration and support the inner work you do. Don’t mask those deeper feelings and limitations with booze, food, shitty relationships and self-pity. Your potential for awesome is too strong to do that.
9. You can’t make people change. They have to want it themselves. You can provide the tools, the support, the loving supportive environment, the real talk, the inspiration and kick in the ass…but they aren’t going to change until they’re ready. And that usually comes when they’ve worked through their emotional limitations and self-pity. Be there when they’re ready, but don’t expend any extra energy on people who aren’t ready to change or grow. It’s not cold and unfriendly, it’s respectful to both of you.
10. When you go through periods of growth and you honor and follow your intuition (aka stepping outside of your comfort zone to get closer to your zone of fulfillment) your ego, or brain, goes cray cray. Like, it throws psychological shit fits and tries to tear you back down to a place of comfort and familiarity. A place of safety. It may throw a tantrum by creating a series of unfortunate events in one single day, pummel you with negative self-talk, put relationships on the fritz, give you a nasty cold, fill your head with self-doubt…but this mental chaos actually means you’re shifting and growing. You’re doing something right. So keep going, despite the shitiness that may come around temporarily. Thank your ego for wanting to protect you, but don’t listen to it. Follow your intuition and your ego will quiet down once it realizes you’re actually safe and know what you’re doing.
11. The greatest gift you can give yourself in life is the gift of finding, following and honoring your true voice. Owning your true voice, speaking your mind, following your heart and staying true to YOU is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Finding your voice and listening to it will lead you to life-long fulfillment.
12. Dating and relationships are a two-way street. If you’re always left wanting more, wondering if they like you, worried about where you stand, confused as to “what are we,” continually doubting yourself, your story, your job, your voice and dulling your sparkle because you feel less-than…hell to the no girl. If a relationship (even if it’s just dating) is constantly creating anxiety and you’re expending more energy worrying about why they haven’t texted you back, when you’re going to see them again, etc., end it. If you’re compromising something that is important and necessary for you in a relationship, walk away. If you’re always making time to see them based on their schedule, but they aren’t making time to see you on yours, WALK AWAY. This sort of thing will eat away at you, cause anxiety, build resentment and begin to chip away at your self-worth. Don’t settle. You accept the love you think you deserve. And you deserve someone who will lift you up, believe in you more than you do, be equally as interested in your life, passions, hobbies, ideas and opinions as much as you are in theirs, they will make the next date with you during your current date, MAKE time to see you, adore you, disagree and fight with you but want to mend it and grow together. A relationship does not (and cannot) fill a void in your life. A healthy relationship is a positive addition to your life. If you and your partner aren’t providing each other with all that you want and need in life and more, I have two words for you: BYE FELICIA.
13. Everyone has their own battle. No matter who they are. For example, I dated a guy for a short time who was working on his post-doctorate with one of the best pharma companies out there, made good money and was setting himself up for a successful career. Shit, he was valedictorian of his college class at a very good school. On the outside, and to society, he was successful. He had all his shit figured out. But you know what they didn’t see? His crippling OCD. His need for order and control. The fact that his entire identity was wrapped up in academics, career growth and success. If someone took all those very “material” things away, he would have no fucking clue who he was. His identity would be lost. This may just be me, but I’d rather be going against society’s idea of “success,” than be living with that kind of pressure and control my entire life. To me, that doesn’t lead to true fulfillment and happiness. Again, that’s an inside job. And coming at this from another angle: if someone is mean, angry, talks down to you, acts entitled and all-around awful…that’s their deal. It has nothing to do with you. It’s coming from deep insecurity and unhappiness on their end. Let it roll off of you. Find your peace and security from the inside out, and then you can deal with everyone’s crazy much better. lol
14. Dealing with adult stuff. AKA: how to survive getting your car towed (when it still had your wallet lying on the passenger seat), paying a $750+ ticket and making it back to your apartment in one piece. Then making an incredibly strong drink. And then not vandalizing the apartment of the crotchety old woman who said you were “blocking her driveway” (my ass), because you know Karma will come around and do its thang.
15. It’s ok to not know what you want to do. It’s ok to not have a clear path or direction. It’s ok to write your story in the moment as you’re living your life. Do what you have to do to support yourself, but give yourself love, space and respect to figure out your purpose and path. It will come to you. And in the meantime, before that lightbulb moment happens, do what fulfills you. Do what makes you happy. Pursue your passion because that will lead you to your purpose. Whether it’s doing theatre, volunteer work, a pottery class, writing a blog, going skydiving…do what fulfills you and makes you happy. Because you may realize, your passion is simply to pursue your passion. And your “work” is to do something that you enjoy and something that supports your passion-pursuing. In the end, if that makes you happy, then keep doing it.