Today I turn 26
I have lived more than a quarter of a century on this earth, and I honestly feel like I’m just starting to learn the ropes now
I mean, who really has this life thing all sorted? Does anyone really know what they’re doing?
This is my first birthday living in a new country, with no family close by, and that has been tugging ever so slightly on my heart strings. So much has changed in my life in the last year, and I honestly didn’t think I would be here, doing the things I am doing, and paving a path for the most amazing life for myself in another country, all by myself.
Although I have only been living away from New Zealand for five months, and I’ve yet to start my big solo traveling ventures, I feel like I have learned so much about myself – who I am as a person, what I will accept for myself and what I want out of life. The things I want in my life now, and the plans I have, are ones that I hadn’t even considered two or three years ago, and I feel that for the first time in my life, my plans are solely for me and not to please anyone else, or fit the mould of what I think others are expecting of me.
The past two years of my life have been the hardest yet, but the most growth has come out of these years for me personally. I have learned to fight my natural ‘anti-change’ instincts and leave a job that was becoming toxic and damaging to my health, I’ve learned that I can suffer immense pain and loss and still wake up and put one foot in front of the other, and I’ve learned that I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. I have always credited my family for my strength (they are truly amazing) and had often sought out my mum to help me through my tough times, often thinking that I was unable to cope without her, but in the last few months with her on the other side of the world, I have been surprisingly resilient and have learned to dig deep and deal with whatever challenges life throws in my direction (which can be a lot when you’re in a new country and you don’t know anyone).
For a fairly dramatic person (I will be the first to admit it), I feel like I am rolling with the punches a lot more, and keeping my freakouts to a constructive minimum. So that being said, I wanted to take a moment on my first birthday by myself to reflect on some of the key life lessons I’ve learned thus far, which have helped shape me into the person I am today.
- Life is meant to be scary (and the fear never goes away)
I’ve spent so much of my life avoiding things that have made me uncomfortable or pushed me outside of my comfort zone, whether that be awkward conversations, trying new things or traveling. It’s only since becoming a Midwife that I’ve become more ‘scrappy’ because I’ve had to advocate for women and babies and so I had to put my own feelings aside for someone else. In learning to be assertive in my job, I’ve learned to be assertive in my personal life as well but it still doesn’t get any less scary to be pushed outside of my comfort zone… it never does. If life isn’t scary, then you’re not doing it right!
- There are worse things in this world than being alone (and it doesn’t mean you have to be lonely)
For a long time I made excuses that I couldn’t travel because I didn’t have anyone to travel with – all of my friends were married or coupled up and I was by myself and resentful about it. I had a whole life planned in my head that was missing another person, and I was stuck in a rut of not being able to live it until I filled that void. After a while, I realised that if I keep waiting for someone else to live my life with me, I’m never going to do it. There will always be a reason why I can’t do it and an excuse why the timing isn’t right, and one day I’ll look back on all the plans that I had that never came to fruition and the only person that would have missed out would be me. There are worse things in this world than being alone, in fact, I enjoy my own company and always have, but traveling alone was always a source of anxiety for me. I often said “I like being alone, but not publicly alone” – which stemmed from my social anxiety of being judged when I was seen as being ‘alone’ and it took me a long time to realise that being alone and being lonely are two very different things.
- People don’t notice things nearly as much as you think they do
This is another big one for me, and although I understand this logically, I still have to remind myself of this every day when my anxiety gets the better of me. If you’re an overthinker like me (I often say that I live 90% of my life in my head), then you know that you can stress about something that you said to someone for weeks on end, or over-analyse a look someone gave you for months. This one is particularly challenging for me, and I still struggle to not overthink things, but my experience has been that people often have no idea what you’re talking about when you confront them about it. Something that was said three weeks ago would have been forgotten two seconds after it was said, and when you bring it up, they have no bloody idea what you’re talking about… meanwhile, if you’re anything like me, you’ve lost two nights sleep over it and possibly contemplated moving cities to escape the unbearable awkwardness that will inevitably ensue. Seriously, everyone else is far too busy overthinking their own shit – we’re all painfully self obsessed.
Being an over-analytical person, I reflect on such things on an almost daily basis, but those three are the ones that have been real game changers for me. The three life lessons listed above have really helped me with my anxiety and helped me to develop into a person that moved to a new country by myself (I still can’t believe I actually did that), and is now so comfortable in my own skin that I’m actually way too good at being alone and loooove living by myself in a rural town.
What are some of the life lessons that you learned that really shaped you as a person?