I turn 30 this year and have been thinking about all of the things I've learned so far. Below are 15 lessons I would tell my younger self:
1. Embrace your failures as much as your successes.
Feel the gradual gnaw inside you that occurs when you don't get what you want or what you worked for. You have plenty of failures ahead. They will be accompanied by their siblings: humiliation and fear. Some of them will knock you down, seduce you into giving up. But with time, you'll see failure as a necessary step towards making things happen.
2. Those lonely, self-doubt ridden moments matter.
And yes, I'm talking about everything from the self-consciousness of getting dressed in the middle-school locker room to defending your Indian food in the cafeteria. Trust that those times will amount to something, whether that's to help you develop a stronger sense of self-respect or to simply be a place to look back to, just to see how much you've grown.
3. Think of ways to contribute to the world around you.
Your time will best be used to make a positive impact for others. Take time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and ask if you are contributing to the world outside of you in the best way you can.
Say no. Say it again and again. Practice ignoring the guilt that comes from putting yourself first.
4. You will be happy things didn't work out with that guy.
You weren't right for each other. Yes, there is love, but you'll learn that love is never enough to make a relationship thrive.
5. Cultivate a relationship with your body that is based on respect.
You will go through periods where food will seem like an antagonist. You will count calories. And steps. You will measure the width of your waist and hips and compare them to what you think they should be. Pull yourself out of that trap. Invest time into your self-care simply because it's good for you. Exercise because you enjoy feeling strong. Moisturize because you want to nourish your skin. Your body will do a lot for you and it deserves love.
6. You will need to get away from some people in order to grow closer to them.
Many relationships will only grow roots and prosper with space.
7. Spend time learning how to be a good friend.
Be the friend who knows when to listen and when to offer advice. Make others feel better about themselves. Talk about yourself less. Celebrate your friends' accomplishments. And remember that any relationship can atrophy without effort.
8. Do not ever assume you have any idea what someone is going through.
Most people are working harder and struggling more than you'll ever know.
9. You will start seeing your parents as people more with each passing year.
You will learn that you will never understand just how much they sacrificed or the difficulties they trudged through, so that your life is better.
10. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
Motivation is contagious. You will be happier trying to improve than living in complacency.
Talk about yourself less. Celebrate your friends' accomplishments. And remember that any relationship can atrophy without effort.
11. Your mother is right...
Every individual has something to teach you.
12. A person's negative behaviour is often more a reflection of themselves than of you.
You will let toxic words and people get to you. You will let them form grooves in your spirit. You will eventually learn how to fill those crevices with strength.
13. Thank the people who didn't believe in you.
Yes, that includes the fifth grade teacher who told your parents you wouldn't amount to much, and the ex-boyfriend who said he was the only person who could love you. They made you develop a strong sense of self.
14. Say no.
Say it again and again. Practice ignoring the guilt that comes from putting yourself first.
15. Make peace with letting go of people who no longer belong in your life.
Don't let history, common friends or even convenience make you hold on to people. The right people will make you feel good after you've spent time with them.