This is the year I turn 30 years old. Yes. When December 5th rolls around, I will hit the big 3-0. That means I’m in my 30th year of life and boy, let me tell you…..
In my head, I feel like I’m still 19.
The other day I opened up YouTube and looked up “old school hip-hop.” Music from the late 90’s and early 2000’s filled my screen. I remember when that shit was new and fresh and poppin’ on the radio. I remember when that was called the “new hip-hop” and all the old timers then were bashing it because “it didn’t have as much soul” as the hip-hop they grew up listening to.
Now, I feel the same way about the music I grew up listening to versus the music that gets released today. It just doesn’t have as much soul. Or perhaps, it’s just not relevant to me and who I’ve become…..
Then I realized I was just growing into being an inevitable old timer, too. But wait, I’m not that old yet.
I’m Just Thirty Years In….
In 30 years, I have done a lot of growing. I’ve grown from a baby to an adult. Grown from a single woman to one with a family. Grown from a girl who had dreams to a woman who makes things happen. Grown from being afraid to be myself to now being who I am without apology. I have grown a lot.
And I still continue to grow every day. Especially now, with another baby on the way. I’ve already gained an extra 10lbs in the last 4 months. See, growth.
One really important thing I’ve learned is that you can’t keep what you’ve learned to yourself. A key ingredient to learning is to act on those lessons, to implement them into our lives. When you share what you know, it forces you to live by it and to remember it. It allows what you’ve learned to change you and make you better.
After all, you haven’t really learned something new if it doesn’t change you or the way you see the world in some way.
So, here are 30 lessons I’ve learned in 30 years about life, love and growing up.
LESSONS IN LIFE’S DREAMS, CAREERS, AND GOALS
1. Don’t rush anything.
Growing up, I was always concerned with the fact that I wasn’t going to be young forever. LOL. The adults in my life were always reminding me of that.
“Your youth is your prime.” “You won’t have these opportunities when you’re old.” “You’re young and beautiful now, don’t waste it.” “They will only want you while you’re still young.”
This had to be some of the worst input I received growing up. It didn’t make me better at making decisions, but it made me rush into A LOT of bad ones. It made me feel like an apple sitting on the shelf, slowly rotting over time.
But that’s not how humans age. We aren’t apples and we don’t rot…not until we’re dead, anyway. In fact, humans are like fine wine. We get better over time. And unless your whole goal in life is to get married as a hot young thing to a richer, older person and be a sugar baby, there is no rush on doing everything “while you’re still young.”
Rushing only makes you rush into the wrong choices. Be patient with yourself and know that you have time to do everything you intend to do. But to do them well, you need to take your time, do your research and make plans that are flexible. Be open to change and embrace the winding ways of the roads of life.
2. Only You Can Decide What You’re Capable Of.
Growing up, I had big dreams. I wanted to be a singer, be Oprah and change the world for brown people in the media, all the while being a scientist with a Ph.D. who went up to space at least once in her life.
Well, I didn’t actually want all of those things at once but I wanted each of those things at some point or another in my life. I kept changing my idea of who I wanted to become.
Do you want to know what made me change my dream so often? Listening to other people tell me,
“You can’t do that.”
For most of my childhood, teen years and young adulthood, I have dared to dream far beyond my current situation. In fact, the whole reason I’m even an expat living abroad with a family right now is because I dared to dream I could do it, even when I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off.
But I only mastered the courage to do the impossible after I learned to stop listening to the opinions of those who would say,
“You can’t do that.”
If I did, I’d probably still be in Canada working a 9-5 with no hope that I could do something amazing with my life. But I learned to stop listening to that. Of course, it took me turning a lot of great opportunities down on the bad advice of others to get here.
Looking back now, I probably could have become a singer or an up and coming media queen like Oprah if I had stuck to those dreams, but I let others tell me what I was capable of.
The first time I defied the words,
“You can’t do that,”
and managed to succeed, it finally dawned on me that people can only tell you what they believe is possible based on their own abilities and perception.
A person who has no faith in themselves will certainly have no faith in anyone else. Worst of all, a person who doesn’t believe in themselves is likely to try and shoot down your ability to believe in yourself.
So don’t listen to people who try to tell you what you can or can’t do. They’re only right if you believe them. You’re the only one who can decide your capabilities, and no one has the power over your destiny unless you hand it over. But don’t do that. Take control of your life, seize your days and decide what you’re capable of.
3. What You Believe Is Everything.
“Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right.” Through trial and error, I have discovered that this is true. We are only limited or empowered by the beliefs we allow ourselves to hold on to.
Looking back now, I can see clearly how what I believed played the determining role in what I achieved. It didn’t play a part, it literally determined what I did.
For example, I didn’t think I had a voice anyone cared about. Because I felt this way, I never tried to speak out. Instead, I stood behind others who did. Had I been someone to speak out, I might have started a blog sooner or chosen a career path that allowed me to use my communication skills to empower women sooner.
Instead, I let myself believe I couldn’t do those things and allowed people into my life that fed into that belief. I really did grow up with this idea that I needed someone more powerful or accepted by society as an authority, such as a male, to represent me. So, when trouble came into my life and I fell victim to abusive and manipulative people who only further drove these ideas into my head, I stayed put for a while. I didn’t know how to fight back. I didn’t even know I could fight back.
I didn’t believe I had a voice of my own.
The truth was I always did have a voice, but because I didn’t believe it, I didn’t use it. I accepted the abuse and control.
Fortunately for me, new people and experiences came into my life to open my eyes and make me realize that I did have a voice.
When I finally chose to believe I had a voice that others would listen to, my life began to change. I started a blog. I went back to school to become a therapist to help others. I started businesses and partnered with others to work on their business ventures. I began traveling on my own.
I became empowered. But the most amazing part of that was I began to empower others.
That wouldn’t have happened if my beliefs didn’t change. That’s the power of belief. What you believe can actually make or break your life. It will determine who you are and what you do.
What you believe is truly everything. It is the foundation of your success or failure. Want to change your life? Start by changing what you believe.
4. Time Is An Illusion.
In a world full of schedules, deadlines and due dates, it can be hard to accept the fact that time does not exist. But it truly doesn’t. This idea really hit me about a year after my son was born, when I started blogging. Let me explain further.
First ask yourself, what do you really think time is? We imagine time as this thing that passes and only goes forward but never backward. We can’t rewind it or hold onto it but we can definitely experience it. We use clocks to measure it. But is it really a “thing”?
I believe the answer to that is no. Time isn’t anything more than a measurement, a way of keeping track of something else. It’s similar to money, in the way that money is really a store of labor.
Change is to time what labor is to money. In other words, time is a measurement of change and nothing more. We measure the movement of the earth – or rather, the change of its position as it moves – and call that time. So, when it’s 12 pm wherever you are, what we’re really saying is that the earth is in a position where the sun is directly over your head, at its peak in relation to your position.
This is why time is also relative. Midday occurs at different periods in different parts of the world to describe this earthly position in relation to the different regions on our globe. The only thing that remains constant is the fact that this change in position and movement continues to happen at a seemingly steady pace.
So, therefore, time isn’t a thing in and of itself. It is a measurement of the rate of change. We use the earth’s movement as a benchmarker for that rate of change, but ultimately, time is a measurement of change and nothing more.
Why does this matter?
It matters because we are disillusioned with time. We think things take time for time’s sake. When we set goals for ourselves, we often get discouraged by how much “time” it is supposed to take or has typically taken in the past. But there is no such thing as time. There is only change.
This is great news because it means that nothing is confined to a time period. It means that things can be accomplished and realities can be changed as quickly as we would like to change them. Your goals can be accomplished as quickly as you can make changes towards them. Time has no say in the matter because it is not a real thing.
The beautiful thing is that the power to make changes lies in our hands. We have power over that. We are not confined, restrained or restricted by time, but only by our ability to make changes or capacity to believe that we can make changes at all.
Once you accept that time isn’t a real thing that can limit you, the power is back in your hands. This can be life-changing for a lot of us. Time will not determine how your life plays out, how you make changes to your life will.
5. It’s The Difficult Things In Life That Make Us Better.
Growing up, older people always told me how I was so mature for my age. I always attracted and befriended people far older than me because of it. I didn’t click that easily with people my age or younger.
Even as an adult now, older adults continue to compliment me for being far beyond my years in terms of the way that I think and see the world, the way that I behave and carry myself, and in what I have managed to do by 29.
But for the longest time, I couldn’t understand what made me stand out like this. I didn’t really have many advantages growing up. I’m a brown (West Indian) female who grew up in Canada raised by immigrant parents. My mom was abusive and mentally unstable, so she lost us to the Children’s Aid Society of Canada and went her own separate way. My dad, after winning custody of us, worked hard his whole life as a single father of three girls and it was a huge struggle for him financially. He was always so busy making ends meet that he didn’t always have the time or ability to give us many upper hands in society. I was a loner at school with few friends because we moved around so often that I changed schools every year. By the time I reached high school, I was so socially awkward that I faced some of the worst bullyings. I was even jumped a few times and was suspended for fighting back to defend myself because I swung back more than once.
Then, as a confused young adult, I got swept into bad company that put my life and future in actual danger. I faced and dealt with verbal, psychological and sexual abuse. Even after getting out of that terrible situation, I had to deal with the repercussions of broken relationships, a smeared reputation, an incomplete education and rebuilding myself from scratch.
What I’m trying to say is, I’ve had it pretty rough for the first twenty-something years of my life. I wasn’t born wealthy or am entitled to some kind of worthy position in society because of my hereditary ties. I wasn’t sheltered from all the ugly truths in life. In fact, I was burned by a lot of them. But I think that’s what made me so mature when compared to other people in my age group.
You see, when things are easy, you’re not forced to learn anything or adapt to survive. You’re not forced to look for answers or build a way out when you’re comfortable and life is okay. Your greatest challenges in life are what forces you to make the big leaps. Real growth only happens when the need for a change exists. But we don’t look to change or fix what isn’t broken.
When we are safe and content, we’re comfortable. When we’re comfortable, we don’t go out of our way to change that. After all, who wants to go from comfort to discomfort? That’s not a choice the average person is willing to make. But discomfort is what can push an average person to become something more.
The greatest among us know that greatness is born from the discomfort and adversity that brings about change. It was all the adversity in my life that pushed me to grow and find my strength and ability to thrive, even in the harshest of conditions.
So, when things get difficult now, I am grateful. I know it’s another chance to grow and become even better and more mature. I embrace the difficult things just as much as I embrace the good comforts in life. That’s what makes me so “mature.”
Despite the fact that I still feel like a teen in my head.
6. You’re Not Always Who You Think You Are.
I remember back when I was 18 and I said I would never get married and have kids. I thought I would never be able to live outside of North America. I thought I would never get involved in the administrative side of business. When people told me that I was a great writer and I could use that to build a strong career, I said “Nope. Not gonna happen.” I thought I would end up like the other girls who went clubbing, kept their nails done and made a living looking pretty.
Boy, was I wrong.
Ten years later, I realized I hate keeping my nails done. They’re always getting in the way of the fun stuff like making homemade pizza dough for the family I never thought I would have.
I also find it a great pain in the butt to get ready on days that I don’t have to, because I run administrative tasks for my own company right from home when I’m not busy building my personal career as a writer and success coach.
Best of all, I was forced to get into working remotely when I decided I would travel and live abroad for the duration of my young adulthood – a decision I made rather spontaneously with little pre-planning before I made the plunge.
My point is, in the last 10 years, I discovered that I was not who I thought I was and I did not end up being who I thought I would be. I am so much more than what I expected. And because I embraced the changes as they came rather than fighting them, I have so much more than I expected, too.
When we’re young and inexperienced, we have these ideas about life and where it’s supposed to lead. Whether or not we acknowledge and accept this fact, we start off with a lot of notions – preconceived ideas – of how the world works, how relationships and love works, how the flow of success and life should be and what we are or aren’t capable of. But then life blows all that into the air and makes you reconsider your expectations.
No matter what plans you have for life, you can always count on the unexpected to happen. But that’s the stuff that shows us who we really are deep down. That’s the stuff that tests our mettle and makes or breaks us.
The difference between those who flourish and those who fall apart during this life-building process is this: you either embrace change or you fight it. But change is inevitable. Fighting it won’t make it go away. Embracing it will empower you to grow and discover the diamond strength hidden deep within you. You are so much more than you think you are, but you need life to really show you how.
I’ve learned to take things in stride and enjoy the journey along the way. There’s a lot to discover if you’re willing to take a deeper look into the world around you and within you.
Onto The Next….Post.
So, do you feel like you learned anything so far? I know 30 whole lessons like this can be a lot, so I think we’re going to take a breather here and get back to part two in the next post. I hope I’ve shared some perspective on life so far, but we’re just getting started.
Comment below and let me know if you’ve found this useful and tell me about what you’ve learned in your many (or fewer) years of life. Each of our journeys is unique and I would love to hear about what life has taught you!