Earlier this month I hit another (albeit relatively artificial) milestone in my life. My twenties have come to a close, and I now suddenly find myself to be 30 years old. Although I do marvel at where the time has gone, I in no way feel 'old'. If it wasn't for the lessons I have learned and the lines forming on my face, I could persuade myself that 19 was only yesterday.
But despite feeling 20, I am glad to be 30. I think it is an accomplishment that all things considered, I still love to smile, laugh, and continue to be ever-curious about life. And yes, I am still a little goofy and immature.
Recently I came across something I had written years ago, a note listing goals I had for my life. I also expressed concern for my future, wondering if I would ever finish my degree or get married (at the time I was already dating the wonderful man who is now my husband).
Now here I am, a recently married woman, and an even more recent PhD. The words I had written made me smile, but mostly at my own ignorance. Although happily married and proud of my academic accomplishments, I now know that these things do not define me. It is the love, laughter, hard work, and character built along the way that matters. And the amazing thing is, I have found that I can be happy, right here, right now, but only if I let myself. I am pretty sure the same is true for everyone, but also think it is something we all must learn on our own.
With this in mind, I thought of other things I have learned this past decade. If I could send a letter back in time, these are the things I would tell my 20-year-old self:
- True compassion is not what you think it is. It is not pity, or even charity for that matter. And it is most certainly not 'people pleasing'. You will learn the difference.
- By all means help friends in need, and cheer them up if they've got the blues. But stay away from malcontents. They will bring you down, and their jealousy will poison your happiness. Smile and walk away, your grace and dignity intact.
- The less people know about you, the better. Never talk too much about yourself or your relationships with others. Listen mindfully to those around you instead.
- Speaking of less, it really is more. In almost every aspect of your life.
- If you are unsure about a decision, think, "Will I regret it if I do it, or regret it if I don't?". Trust your instincts.
- Never believe that someone else has your best interests at heart. Those who claim to may be genuine, but really, how could they know what makes your heart soar? Only you can know that, so don't be complacent.
- To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent". Take that quote to heart, girl!
- Anything in this world worth having does not come easy. Personal growth is definitely one of them, and requires patience and being gentle with yourself. Instead of kicking yourself for what you didn't achieve yesterday, focus on the progress you've made today.
- The only actions you can control are your own. You are never in control of other people's thoughts, actions, and beliefs, so let go of worrying about them. If an issue arises that causes concern, the only thing you can rightfully do is lead by example.
and last but not least . . .
- Despite what you may think now, know that a spiritual life is possible, even for a nonconformist like you :) Just don't think that it has to be what other people think or say it should be. So go ahead, keep exploring your beliefs- and more importantly, continue challenging them!
Did you enjoy this post? What are some of the things you would tell your younger self? Please share in the comments below.
May all beings be happy!