It’s easy to think that as an adult, I’m a fully formed person, ready to take on the world whatever the challenges. But I admit it, I’m still growing, still changing and every mistake I make is an opportunity to learn something new, move forward a more enlightened individual. The first step of which is acknowledging those life lessons I’ve learned in the past year, the springboard to having a more rewarding and fulfilling life in 2014. We’re all in it together, this sort of confusing thing called life. So here are some life lessons I’ve learned that can be shared with whomever you choose (and I hope you do!).
Seeing the Other Side of the Coin
Youngest children tend to be self-serving, and well, bratty. The world revolves around us! That was me for most of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I felt angry or hurt because I’d misinterpreted something someone else did or said with no thought to where they were coming from. In fact, I did it just last week. (Hey, learning is a process.) You will always improve and maintain your relationships by thinking of how another person feels before you decide how you feel. And that thing from a week ago? I was able to save it at the last minute by thinking of the other person’s perspective. In the past, I would have been, well…a brat about it.
Self-Sacrifice for Your Own Goals When You’re Still Single
Making sacrifices for others is a beautiful thing. But women do it too often when they have their own lives to pursue. I measured my worthiness as a friend and partner by “always being there” for everyone else. Not only is it okay, but absolutely essential to make sacrifices to move yourself forward. That is until you have a ring on it and a bun in or out of the oven, then you have others to consider. (I’m assuming. I don’t know since I have neither yet.) You’ll have friends and family maybe giving you some gruff about not being available. It’s okay! That’s often part of the sacrifice and it’s worth it to get to where you want to be. The best friends and family will always be there. You don’t need to apologize and you certainly shouldn’t be rude. Just be honest and kindly say you’re taking rain checks at the moment.
You Just Don’t Know the Cards Someone Else Was Dealt
We live in a media culture that is constantly praising the wunderkind. The 22-year-old movie star or entrepreneur. It’s enough to make anyone worry they’re all dried up (or their dreams are) by age 25. But more and more, when I delve into an overachiever’s background I find they were born with certain privileges most of us aren’t. They come from a wealthy and/or connected family or an atypically involved one. You know, the parents who quit their jobs and move to L.A. to manage their 6-year-old’s modeling/acting/singing career. That brings me to another point: No matter how you slice it, success takes years of hard work. If the wunderkind is a rock star at 19, it’s probably because she started taking music seriously when she was 6. So don’t beat yourself up, keep working. Perhaps you started later, perhaps you didn’t have the privileges someone else had. You may have to bootstrap yourself from a lower tier, but that’s something to be proud of. We can’t all be Kardashians.
Comparison is the Thief of Joy
I’ve seen this pin no less than 600 times, I think. And every time I see it, I feel a sense of release. Think about it, if you weren’t comparing yourself to anyone else, you’re pretty awesome. You’re beautiful, you’re perfect. Life is going just as it should be. And that’s the way we should feel all the time. For any of us living in the real world with any social media account, this mantra bears repeating: comparison is the thief of joy. When I look back on my stressful early days of freelancing, when the cell phone bill might not have been paid, I didn’t have time to compare my career to anyone else’s, I was just trying to go after work that reflected my interests and expertise. And I got some great portfolio samples that are helping me continue to move forward. If I’d been saying, “Susie might not take this gig or Joe who’s been in the business for 15 years,” I would’ve been dead in the water. And to this day, I regret making some choices based on what I thought others might do or approve of instead of what felt right to me.
Drink Ice Water
And finally, one of the most important routines I’ve incorporated into my life is drinking ice water. A big glass, at least one per day. Why? Well, duh, we’re all supposed to drink water daily. But I’ve found it does more than just help you keep away water retention and provide for your skin. Water prevents me from downing that fourth cup of coffee that will keep awake until 4 a.m. The crisp, ultra-cold sensation jars my senses, making me feel alert, reminding me that lethargy is temporary. It fills me up between meals. It gives me something to grab for when a sentence just isn’t coming my way. It gives me a little break, even if only for a second. It’s divine.
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