Friday, February 5, 2016

7 Lessons in 35 Years

Tomorrow, I turn 35. It's a little bit hard for me to wrap my mind around that. While I know that 35 is certainly not old, it's older than I feel. Admittedly, some of my disbelief about turning 35 has to do with the fact that I haven't had some of the life experiences (namely, marriage and babies) that most of my peers have, at least in this region of the country. I know that the comparison game does me absolutely no good so rather than focusing on the things that are absent from my life at age 35, I am choosing to reflect on the many amazing experiences I've had over the last 35 years. Experiences like travel, professional accomplishments, marathons, etc.

In addition to the wonderful experiences I've had over the last 35 years, I've also learned a lot of valuable life lessons.  There are many I could list out but I thought I'd limit myself to 7 - one for every 5 years of my life.

1.  You do you.  This is a lesson that I've really come to learn in my 30's. The beauty of getting older, at least for me, is that you come to accept yourself for who you are and you stop apologizing for that. "You do you" means being unapologetic about who you are, what your priorities are, and how you choose to spend your time.  It's finding what works for you in terms of relationships, friendships, career choices, fitness, and other aspects of your life. I'm continuously trying to put this lesson into practice and I'm certainly not doing that perfectly, but I've made progress over the past several years.

2.  You are not your career. Even though, "What do you do for a living?" is often the first question a person asks when they first meet you, it does not need to be the number one thing that defines who you are. Granted, there is nothing wrong with working hard to advance your career and finding new ways to challenge yourself at work but it does become problematic when you are connecting those advances and successes to your worth as a human being. I started to realize I was falling prey to that line of thinking and over the past 1-2 years, I have worked to limit the extent to which my career defines who I am.

3.  Money spent on travel is money well spent. I have never regretted the money I have spent on travel and doubt I ever will. Traveling has opened my mind to new cultures and ways of living but it also makes me thankful for the life I have built back home. 

4.  ... But saving is important, too.  The counterpoint to spending money on travel is that it's also important to save.  I learned this lesson the hard way in 2013 when my job was relocated to Charlotte. The severance package was small and I did not have enough savings to feel comfortable with taking the risk of being out of work for awhile, so I felt "forced" to make that move. Since then I have really focused on saving so that I will never be in that kind of position again.

5.  You are responsible for your own happiness. I spent a good chunk of my 20's thinking I'd be happy when I had a different/better job, or when I was in a relationship, or when I was at my "happy" weight, or after I ran a marathon, and so on, and so forth. In my late 20's and early 30's, I learned that all those externalities shouldn't determine whether you are happy. I have made steps to create a life that makes it easier to be happy, like moving to an urban setting, but happiness truly has to come from within. I think this is an important lesson to learn before entering a committed relationship, because if you can't be happy on your own, being in a relationship is not going to fix that - at least not for the long-term in my opinion. While my relationship makes me happier, Phil is not responsible for making me happy - that's my job.

6.  Building your "tribe" is essential.  I've been through a lot of change over the last several years which has taught me that it's so important to have a wide range of friends with similar values to support you through the ups and downs of life. I've also learned that this tribe of people may change over the years in ways I wouldn't have imagined and that is OK as people grow and change, and grow closer or grow apart.

7.  Comparison is the thief of joy. Thanks to social media, we are so much more aware of what others are doing and, in general, I don't think this has a positive impact on our level of happiness. I try to remind myself that it's not fair to compare the reel of my life, which includes the good and bad moments, to the highlights of life that others are sharing on Facebook and Instagram. I have to remind myself of this very often as it's a conscious choice to not play the comparison game.

In closing, while I'm a bit weirded out by my age, I'm very excited to celebrate this birthday as I get to spend it on the beaches of Riviera Maya in Mexico with my love.  We'll be mostly disconnected from social media and such as we opted to not have wifi in our room so that we could really disconnect from the outside world on this trip. But I'm sure I'll find time to stop into the lobby to read my birthday emails and Facebook posts at the end of the day. I'm excited to spend the day soaking up some vitamin D, relaxing, reading, and doing whatever else strikes us as fun that day!

What are some of the best lessons you have learned in life thus far?


Emilie said...

Wishing you the happiest of birthdays, Lisa! How fun to be able to spend it somewhere warm and beautiful. I really enjoyed this post. As I get closer to 30 I'm finding myself learning these lessons more and more, though implementing them in my daily life is still somewhat of a struggle. In many ways I've always felt older than I am (my mom describes me as an old soul) but it's hard to picture myself actually being in my 30's. I had a picture in my head of where I'd be at 30 and while I'm getting closer to the idea in my head, my life has not gone the way I'd pictured at all. I'm starting to believe that most people feel the same exact way, so we're all in the same boat! Enjoy your special day and your trip!!

Nora said...

I love this list! You do you is probably one of my favorite things and something I, too, have learned over the years. There's something freeing about being in my 30s and not caring as much about what people think. Life is too short for that!

I've also learned that, at least for me, life is too short to read books I don't like, say yes to things I don't want to be doing, and that no matter what family, friends and the love that we share is the most important thing to me.

Have a great trip! can't wait to hear/read all about it. Sending lots of birthday hugs!

Amber said...

Awesome post! These are all amazing life lessons to reflect on. Comparison is the thief of joy is the biggest one for me. Sometimes, the hardest part is that I am aware of all these things, and also self aware enough to know when I'm being irrational or comparing or what have you but that doesn't stop my body/mind from FEELING the emotions it feels. And that's where it's been hard for me. But I think at least being aware of these things and also self aware enough to know when you're falling into the traps is a good starting point.

Anyways, I hope you have the most amazing, relaxing, spectacular birthday on the beach in Mexico!! You are so deserving of this awesome, relaxing vacation. Sending tons of birthday hugs and love. Thank YOU for being a part of my tribe. Muah! xoxo

Anonymous said...

I love this. The best part of getting older is definitely caring less and less what people think. I still wish I was one of those people who really and truly 100% did not give a what what about what other people thought, but every single year I do care less and less and it's so freeing. This is a wonderful list and I am so glad to have you as part of my tribe.

Raquelita said...

This was a great post! I agree with all of these points, though I really struggle with maintaining the work-life balance necessary to really live #2. Things have been really hectic the past couple of weeks, but I'm hoping they slow down again a bit soon so that I don't feel like all my energy is going to my job or to running. Sometimes I still feel like I'm trying to find some more of my people here, but it helps knowing that I have a global tribe all over.

Have a wonderful birthday! I can't wait to hear about your trip and see some photos. Have an amazing time in Mexico!

Linda said...

Happy early birthday!

#2 and #7 felt like they were written for me. Thank you for the reminder of these two lessons. <3

I hope your vacation in Mexico is magical. You deserve it!

Marlys said...

We do grow wiser as we age, and your thoughts show that. I celebrate your 35th year, and always ask myself how it is possible that my children are that age, and older as the years slip by so quickly!
I love your comments on happiness because that is one thing we do mature on as we grow. IF happiness doesn't come from within, it is not true happiness,and no one should be held responsible for making us happy.
God bless you and enjoy the sunshine, sand & companionship!
Love you so much!

suki said...

I turn 35 this year also! And I think the moment you let go of those expectations you had for yourself from a young age for when you are THIS age, you end up feeling so much better. :) Happy early birthday, friend! And have so much fun in Mexico!

Anonymous said...

Happy, happy birthday! Mine? You can't please everyone.

San said...

I love this list, Lisa. So much wisdom (definitely lessons I had to learn over the last two decades).... but I hear you on not feeling your age (I'll turn 40 in March and I am like WHAAAAATTT?)

One of my favorite lessons is that you can't please everyone and also that the only one who has to be happy with your life is YOU.

Have a wonderful, relaxed, unplugged birthday! Do you! <3

Carolina John said...

Happy birthday, and well put! I had kind of a tough time with 35 as well. You come into your own and really learn what makes you happy in your 30's, then 40 hits and screws up all of that stuff. Believe it or not, you're still in your prime! seriously, these are the best years.

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

Ah, Happy Birthday, Lisa! Hope you and Phil are having a great trip! These are good lessons and "you do you" is one I've started working on more lately. Trying to feel less bad/guilty/shameful for not being in some fabulous career and rather embracing that I love spending my days worth Henry and that's what is important right now. We are really planning on working on the money saving aspect this year. Selling the house, paying off some debt, saving for future and trips. All of that is in the plan. It feels good to know we will get there even if we aren't "there" right now. Wishing you a happy year ahead, friend! Hugs, L

Jeanie said...

Perhaps your best post ever, Birthday Girl! You may be only 35 but you have the wisdom of an ancient sage. Oh, I wish I'd known all these things at your age.

Have the happiest birthday ever -- I think it might just be the best, and certainly the sunniest and warmest! Unplugging is the best idea ever, literally and figuratively, and just enjoying this beautiful spot with Phil.

I need to copy your list! The lessons are truly a gift.

Happiest New Year!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Happppppppy Birthday!! I hope you are relaxing with a maitai in hand or hiking up some glorious ruins right now! You deserve this vacation (and I am sure it is nice to be out of the MN winter for a bit)! I totally relate to what you said about not feeling 35. I still don't consider myself an "adult", even though I guess that I really am. However, I am still young and I am still learning new things every day. I hope I never lose that.

Your lessons are spot on. I think that our 20s are often spent figure out who "me" is. We dabble in this and that in order to determine which "thises" and "thats" make us happy, define us and even sometimes impress others. Then we get to a point (hopefully) where we don't need to impress others or be defined and we start to focus more on the "make us happy" part. And, like you said, it's ourselves who have to do that. I think we hone that a lot as a single person. Like you mentioned, Phil makes you happiER, but a few years on your own makes you really learn what YOU like and who YOU are. Enjoy Mexico and do what makes you smile!

Stephany said...

I feel weird about being 28 because whenever I hear about other people who are 28, I'm like, "That sounds so old! So... adult!" And then I remember *I* am 28 and it's just so strange. This growing up business is a strange one.

Lessons #1 and #7 are the ones I have really started to grasp in the past year or so. Life is just so much more enjoyable when I realize I just need to "Be Stephany" and honoring my strengths and likes and dislikes - even when they may be unpopular with others!

I hope you are having the happiest of birthdays and am so glad you are spending it in Mexico! What a fun way to ring in a new birthday. :)

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I hope you had a wonderful birthday!!!! Happy 35!!! I love the life lessons you posted. I've really embraced getting older, as the older I get, the happier I am. The "you do you" lesson really stands out for me.

I hope your trip is SO, SO wonderful!! Soak it up girl!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I hope you had a fabulous birthday!

Jenny said...

Happy birthday! I hope you are having a fabulous time in Mexico :D

Lessons? Look after your teeth, stretch, it's probably not too late to do whatever it is you wanted to do or learn.

Caroline said...

Loved this post and reading the lessons you've learned. I can relate to so much of them and some of them I'm definitely still working through. I think the last one, comparison is the thief of joy, is one that I didn't use to struggle with and now really find myself struggling with- especially when it comes to my business. I've tried to disconnect a little from social media as a result, but it's hard especially when my business revolves around it so much!

My favorite lesson of yours is that you are responsible for your own happiness. This is the biggest lesson I've learned in the last two years and one that I am constantly trying to remind myself.

Hope you had a great birthday and are enjoying Mexico :)

Cherry Blossoms said...

What a great post Lisa. Friendship is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone and sometimes all you need is one blessing to be the greatest blessing in your life.

Elizabeth said...

Absolutely love this and am so glad you had such an incredible birthday trip! Happy belated...but I truly hope the year ahead brings you so much joy and fulfillment.