Things I’ve learnt in my first 30 years on earth (and things I’m still learning)

Today is my birthday! Yes, it is very close to Christmas. Yes, that’s rough. But I’m not the kind of person who likes to be the centre of attention, so having very small birthday celebrations with just family and a few close friends is fine by me.

This birthday is a big one: today marks 30 years exactly since I came into the world. That’s 30 years of chronic exaggeration, assuming the worst at every opportunity, and dancing in my bedroom when no one’s home. It’s also 30 years of generally making my way in the world, and I don’t want to go all Kylie Jenner on you, but in that time I’ve realised some things. And I’m still realising some things.

People don’t think about you anywhere near as much as you think they do

Are those people I said something slightly silly to at a party 8 years ago still thinking about it? Probably not. Am I? You betchya! How many times have you noticed that someone’s wearing the same top they wore to the office last Thursday? And how many times have I changed at the least minute because I suddenly realised that I think I may have worn this top to the office last Thursday?

I spend so much of my time thinking and worrying about what other people think of me, when the truth is they aren’t thinking about me at all. Everyone else is thinking about what they’re cooking for dinner, that they need to reply to that text, and wondering if it’s raining at home because they’ve got sheets on the line.

Failure is usually a learning opportunity in disguise

I’ve got to be honest and admit that this is one that’s firmly in the ‘still learning it’ basket. As a hopeless perfectionist, mistakes and failure still feel more like knives in my heart than stepping stones to my next big success. But they say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and if I haven’t died from the many, many mistakes that have stabbed knives into my heart over the years then I must be very strong indeed.

What I can definitely say I have learnt, is that when I have made a mistake or failed at something, it’s still turned out okay. I still struggle to rejoice over my errors because they’re another opportunity to learn and expand my mind, but I could certainly do to wallow over them a lot less than I do. Because making mistakes is okay, and my life has turned out pretty well despite them.

It’s never as bad as you think it will be

When I’m nervous or worried about something, I like to prepare myself for it by vividly imagining the absolute worst possible outcome. Usually this involves public humiliation, immediate termination of my employment, or my house burning to the ground. If I picture the worst case scenario, I’ll be prepared for what actually eventuates, which surely can’t be that bad.

This is obviously not a reasonable or healthy way to live you life so I’m certainly not recommending it, but what it has taught me is that things are never as bad as you think they will be. Not once has anything resembling my worst case imaginings come true. Sometimes things are uncomfortable, awkward or sad, but all that time spent worrying could have been put to far better use.

Being yourself is hard enough, don’t make it harder by trying to be someone else

It’s not always easy to be alive. Bad things happen, to do lists get out of control, and then there’s the semi-regular existential crises to deal with. For some reason, I’ve felt the need to make it even harder on myself by pretending to be someone I’m not. I’ve bought clothes because I thought I could be the kind of person that would wear them. I’ve accepted invitations to things I don’t really want to go to because I figured should. I’ve pretended to like countless songs, books and movies because a better version of myself would like them.

Well, I’m not a better version of myself. I’m this version of myself and it’s not so bad. Over the last couple of years I’ve stopped worrying about what a ‘better’ version of myself would do and started just doing the things actual me likes. It’s much easier and much more enjoyable.

Dumplings are delicious

Boy, are they ever.

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