I recently turned 30 (to my dismay), which meant that it was time to sort out my life standing…
Beyond the “Where am I going from here?” and “Can I still have pizza for dinner?” one question stood out to me: “What have I learned so far?”
While I still had a long road to complete awareness, I felt I had far surpassed the obstinacy and ignorance of my 20’s. Life holds different lessons for different people, but we all reach the same truths in time. Each of us is in a continual state of change and evolution, and perhaps you’re much closer to your goals than I am with much less time on earth than me. Or maybe you’re in your later years and still struggling to embrace some of the truths below. Regardless, I applaud you for the wisdom you’ve accumulated and share with you the 10 lessons I’m grateful to have learned before 30:
You deserve better. We put up with a lot when we’re young, partly because we don’t know any better. You may have tolerated many things that were unfair to you, as I have, because you still carried the weight of unworthiness. Then there comes the day you understand that anything and anyone that makes you suffer has no place in your life. This means you deserve better than the job you hate. You deserve better than the partner who constantly tries to dominate you. You deserve better than criticism or humiliation. You were born into this world brimming with love, talent, and personal power that’s beyond your imagination. You, dear reader, deserve better. And when you begin to believe this statement is when you begin to receive better.
You can’t control another person. You can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do, and you can’t stop someone from doing something they want to do. Often we live with the false notion that we can mold a human being to our liking—that if we tell a person to be different, he or she will become different. We feel devastated when we find out just how fixed people are in their beliefs: the liar will revert to lying, the narcissist will continue to think of himself, etc. As I like to say, forcing change on a person only forces him or her out of your life. Being a positive example may inspire others to improve, but ultimately people will change at their own pace and for their own reasons. The only person you can successfully reshape is yourself.
Learning to forgive allows you to progress. There’s no action that benefits you more than choosing to forgive. Forgiveness detaches you from a bad situation. You let go of what is painful in exchange for what brings you joy. The easiest way to start the forgiving process is to ask your ego to step aside and allow your true self to come forth. Your ego wants you to take things personally and remain enmeshed in your problems, while your true self begs you to go forward and seek better things. Recognizing that there are two sides to you helps you regain control because you now have a choice: to resent and remain in the past with the ego, or to forgive and move into the future with your authentic self.
Your intuition is never wrong. With age comes wisdom (or at least it should). And with wisdom comes a certain inward knowing: that profound “gut feeling” that never fails. Intuition and wisdom work hand in hand: having a sense of wisdom will lead you to follow your intuition, and following your intuition will lead you to wise decisions. We don’t always want to listen to it because we may not like what our intuition is telling us. But the more we trust it, the more accurate it grows. And in time, we discover that our intuition is our greatest source of truth.
Visualize, affirm, repeat. There’s no evading the hard work that’s needed to accomplish your goals. But you can’t achieve something that you can’t imagine first. Since I was a little girl I’ve closed my eyes and envisioned the things I wanted most coming to life. I’ve affirmed my deepest desires endlessly. And I’ve been fortunate to witness many of them become realities. Not because things magically fell into place for me, but because my visualizations and affirmations served as sources of motivation to make my dreams come true; the more I conjured it up in my mind, the more I worked to create it in real life. If you’re meeting resistance, revisit your aims: Why do you want what you want? Do you want it for the right or wrong reasons? If your intentions are good, remain undeterred. Continue to see and it speak it. And most importantly, when your statements and reflections start to manifest, jump on the opportunity.
No one will do for you what you can do for yourself. Up to a certain age, we rely on our friends for many things like advice and accompaniment. But by 30 we begin to realize that true friends are hard to find, and that even the ones we’ve found are likely to disappoint us. The only relationship that’s a permanent fixture in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Friends will come and go but you will remain—by yourself, with yourself, and for yourself. So become your own best friend. Learn how to spend quality time with yourself, delve deeply into your inner being, acknowledge your true needs, and adore your own company.
The way you respond is most important. In the end, the actions of others don’t matter; your responses do. The world will provoke you to become angry, bitter, aggressive, corrupt, and hateful, but you simply don’t have to give in. It is purely your decision to sink into or rise above your circumstances. Keep your conscience clean and act in good faith, no matter what. You owe it to yourself (and your karma) before you owe it to anyone else.
Don’t worship false idols. I see kids who are more enthusiastic about Kylie Jenner’s social media posts than their own futures. We live in an age in which “false idols” run rampant: overly-glorified, self-absorbed celebrities who distract us even more from the things that really matter. As a teenager, I used to follow this illusionary world with equal zeal, until I found that I’m much happier following my inner voice. Before you become a fan of some famous person, become a fan of your parents, your teachers, your true friends, and yourself. Instead of devoting yourself to trends, devote yourself to your uniqueness. Why would you want to disappear into the crowd, anyway?
You will have to become bigger than your fears. We’re all afraid of something: you might fear not having money while I might fear having my heart broken. And you’re guaranteed to meet everything you fear. Isn’t that ironic? That’s just the way life unfolds, leading you directly into the situations you dread most in order to test your awareness and endurance. The only way to avoid this is to become bigger than your fears. Realizing that your fears aren’t real helps you conquer them. What you’re afraid might happen is only one of the many potential outcomes of what can actually happen.
It’s never too late to find yourself. And find yourself again, at that. Your body is constantly replacing old cells with new ones, regenerating itself almost entirely within seven to ten years. Similarly, you will redefine your identity many times before you settle on the truth of who you are. At 50 you may wake up and suddenly elect to switch careers, move, find new love, or forsake an old belief. Who you are in this moment is not who you were last year or even last month—both literally and figuratively—because changing circumstances require newer, better versions of you. As you evolve, you will shift in ways you never thought possible. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Never become too attached to being a certain way or believing in certain things. Even the most stubborn notions can be abandoned when necessary. Allow the leniency of life to usher you through your self-development. There’s only one rule to successful self-evolution: outgrow all that does not serve a positive purpose. So go ahead, shed your skin. Tomorrow you will be reborn.
We can discover new lessons of life on any day, at any age, if we learn to listen with our hearts.