35 LESSONS I’VE LEARNED FROM WINGING IT IN LIFE
I celebrated my birthday a week ago and it felt like a huge milestone. I’m not a planner. I’m a professional procrastinator and have specialised in the art of winging it, so I didn’t have the vision board with the husband, children and the townhouse. I didn’t know what I’d be doing – I had no idea what my life would look like at this stage. I was just going with the flow, doing what I wanted, what felt right, and here I am. And I’m really happy, and grateful, and still winging it to some extent.
Since I turned 30 I’ve had this little tradition: I like to spend a few moments on my birthday each year reflecting on my life, my achievements, areas of growth, all my blessings and how I can challenge myself in the next year (to procrastinate well you must have a list of things to do), and occasionally I share those things.
Last year I shared 12 lessons. This year I’d like to share 35 – in honour of turning 35. Here goes!
On life in general
- Fill your life with experiences, not things. But if you’re going to pick things, pick the best you can afford. Don’t settle.
- Comparison is the real thief of joy. Don’t let the highlight reels you see on the internet make you feel like shit about yourself – focus on creating your own highlights.
- May you never think so highly of yourself that you mock anyone who shares alternative views to yours and speaks uncomfortable truths. A mature mind will recognise dissenting opinions and seek to engage for the purpose of understanding – the opposite will mock to distract from the real issue.
- Learn to disagree with the issue, not hate the person. Cattiness is not sexy.
- Life is unfair. Imagine you’ll have to deal with it.
- You’ll make mistakes. It doesn’t make you a bad person.
- There’s something sexy about mystery. Keep some things to yourself – you don’t have to share everything with the internet.
- Open yourself up to learning. Push the boundaries of what you know. There’s an entire world out there just waiting to be explored.
- Speak up, be the mad one, let them say what they will. Do not be silenced because your views make people uncomfortable. But emotional intelligence is also key.
- Learn to forgive. Grudges are time consuming, heavy and are like a festering wound. And festering wounds stink.
- Correct with kindness, with empathy. Just because you’re right doesn’t give you permission to be an ass.
- Self-care is not selfish, but it can be. Learn the difference.
On money, career and success
- There is no honour in downplaying your talents, your skills, your mind and sacrifices to make it seem as if what you have comes easy. If you worked for it, there’s nothing wrong with letting the world know you earned it.
- Do not embrace poverty or self-pity. You were not brought into this world to live a mediocre life.
- Manifestation is nothing without the work to back it up. Some of you are busy manifesting certain lifestyles but will stay exactly where you are because you’re not willing to put in the (honest) work.
- Spend less time looking for the right hashtag to describe your aspirations, and more time investing in the skills and resources that will help you achieve those aspirations. Scrolling all day does not a #girlboss make.
- Every good thing, every comfort, every luxury, must be paid for – one way or another.
- There is no shortcut to long term success. Do not be lied to. You’re smarter than that.
- Respect money. Not knowing how to handle it – or yourself when you have it – can really f*ck you up.
- Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life – that’s a lie. You’ll still work. It’ll be hard. You’ll question why you do it sometimes. But it will be remarkably rewarding if you work within your purpose.
- Don’t sell yourself short by being too timid to ask for what you’re worth. You shouldn’t suffer economic or career penalties because you’re a woman.
On relationships and friendship
- There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. We were not created to be able to do everything by ourselves.
- Be careful who you invite into your circle. A wider circle does not equal better quality friendships – and you want to stay away from people who want you to do good, but never better than them.
- People will disappoint you; but they will also come through for you in ways that will blow your mind. You’ve got to learn who will do what so you can act accordingly.
- You can’t change those around you, but you can change those around you (Joshua Fields Millburn, in The School of Greatness podcast). Internalize that.
- Look out for the intention behind the actions and words. No use getting mad over misunderstood intentions and perceived meanings.
On marriage, independence and submission
- Be with someone who allows you to be all the best versions of yourself, from the dotting partner and mom to the freak and the boss.
- People evolve, relationships change and there’s no one right way to do things. Find out what works best for you. Experiment. See how it fits – and do that. Who cares if it’s “unconventional”.
- Marriage is hard, but it’s worth it if the good far, far, far outweighs the bad. And therapy really does help.
- You will fight. Learn to fight fair. Avoid the low blows and insults.
- A secure partner is a sexy partner.
- Stay off people’s phones. Leave their call logs, messages and emails alone. Nothing good ever comes out of that.
- Submission comes naturally when your partner fulfils certain needs – and it looks different in every relationship. Forced submission is slavery; no matter what your partner or pastor says.
- Women often become independent and self-reliant as a form of self-preservation, because they’ve either been disappointed or have seen generations of women before them be disappointed by the people in their lives. If you cannot depend on your partner, it might be time to re-evaluate that relationship.
- Women, have your own money – even if the men in your lives are willing and able to provide everything. There’s a freedom in financial empowerment that cannot be overstated.
Phew! This makes me feel like I know a little something, because these lessons have guided me through different situations, and while many of them have been learned from pain and hurt, others have been learned from softer experiences. I hope you can learn something from them too.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned that are guiding you through life? Drop them in the comments – let’s learn from each other.
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The Cultured Cow