Hindsight is a funny thing. You look back at your life, know the lessons you should have applied at the time, but only truly understand those lessons once you’ve seen the repercussions first hand.
People can try to warn you, but most of the time you only truly appreciate a life lesson, once you’ve lived through it yourself.
So which lessons do I wish I’d learned earlier on in life?
1) That Honesty Is the Best Policy
You only have to watch a couple of episodes of a soap opera to appreciate the value of this lesson! Most of the knots we ties ourselves up with in life involve dishonesty. The earlier you tell the truth, the better.
Whatever the motive, we tend to make excuses to ourselves, justifying the reasons why we can be economical with the truth. But you only have to experience the complications which stem from a lie or a half-truth, to understand that in most situations, telling the truth, at the earliest chance, would have solved a lot of problems.
How does this apply to the dating game? Don’t lead people on. If you’re on the rebound, talk about it. Be honest with yourself. Never say something just to make someone feel better.
2) That Being Single at 30 isn’t a Failing
Probably the main message of this blog! But it certainly took me a while to learn. When you live in a world where very few of your immediate friends are single, it can be hard not to panic, and wonder when your time will come. But no one stays single forever, and the worst thing you can do is panic. Make the most of your time single! Embrace all the opportunities which come with being single in 2014 … and shortly 2015. Your time WILL come … but it’s unlikely to if you’re stressing and beating yourself up about it!
3) That Priorities Change
The funny thing about life is that we’re asked to make decisions about our futures really early on. Which GCSEs, which A-Levels, what degree … Often we make choices without fully understanding the implications. Society expects us to look into the future from an early age, establishing what we want from life. Yes, that may motivate us, but often we set expectations for ourselves, which we don’t truly understand. Married by 28. Kids by 30. A reputable profession.
My approach to life has always been to fill it with as many different lives as I can. As many different experiences. And with those experiences, and the knowledge that comes with it, priorities change.
Our lives are not carbon copies of each other. You should never judge your own success and worth by comparing yourself to others, because we all have different priorities. Different ambitions. Sometimes we don’t know what we want for a long time. It’s only when we give ourselves time to truly become the sum of our own parts, that we understand what we need from life.
4) That Sometimes in Life You Need to Take a Gamble
I was a complete goody-two-shoes growing up. I did everything by the book. I never took risks. I played things straight, and did everything the orthodox way until I got to Cambridge. And then I realised that that was as far as I’d ever properly mapped out. Having achieved my aim, what came next?
I remember looking ahead of me, at the ‘expected’ paths for a Cambridge grad – graduate schemes, and City success, and realising I didn’t fit that mould any more. So what came next?
The funny thing is, looking back, I’ve always had entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve always had the personal tools which serve me well as an entrepreneur. And yet I lacked the courage to take a leap. It seemed too far from the ‘safe’ path. It’s only in the last six months that I’ve begun to appreciate just where my skills lie, and what I’m capable of. Granted, to get to that point, I needed to take a risk. I moved to London, halved my salary, and doubled my living costs … but six months on and everything has started to fall into place. Sometimes you need to be the one who pushes yourself off the ledge … Don’t wait for someone else to do it!
5) That It’s OK to Say Goodbye
Growing up, I was one of those girls who always wanted everyone to like me. I tried to be friends with everyone, and felt like I’d failed if someone didn’t get on with me. The older I got, the more I came to understand you can never please everyone. And that not everyone in life will be your cup of tea.
However it took me a long time to also realise that sometimes people come into your life, and drift out of it. Someone can be a really close friend for a period of time, but end up a stranger in later life. And that’s not a bad thing, or a failing … it’s just an adult relationship.
As I’ve said before on this blog, women have a tendency to expect more from their friendships than from their romantic relationships. And yet in reality, they’re all relationships with people. And relationships change. A partner becomes your best friend for a period of time, and partnerships don’t always last forever, so why should friendships?
Yes, it may hurt looking back … in the same way you smart when you think about an ex … but distancing yourself from a former friend needn’t be a bad thing, or something you have to fix. It’s just a part of growing up!
Five more lessons to come tomorrow! …
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx