On life

6 life lessons I have learned so far

Reflection is good – even at the beginning of your life. I like to believe that life has taught me something in 28 years, so in this article I talk about 6 important life lessons in life I have learned up until now.

1. Don’t be afraid to let people go

I have come across a lot of people in my (relatively short) life and I have learned that not all of those people are meant to stay. This doesn’t just apply to peope who have hurt you and don’t deserve to be in your life, but also people who just ‘don’t fit’. I have had some friends who were really great people, but something always felt ‘off’. I couldn’t really be myself around them and it always felt a little forced. I have learned to let these people go – they aren’t meant to be in your life forever. I also learned that you really don’t need 50 friends, in fact: it’s way too hard to maintain that many close friendships. Spend your energy on the (few) people you really love and don’t waste (too much) time on the people that don’t invest their time and energy in you. Also, don’t feel bad to let people go that just ‘don’t fit’, even if they’re good people. They (and you!) will fit better with someone else.

2. Follow your intuition

This may seem a bit corny and I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it’s something I really learned. When you’re young, it’s so much easier to follow your intuition and do what feels right for you, but when you get older you start overthinking a lot of things. I learned that in most cases, you know which way you have to go, but you often find reasons to doubt it. Perhaps because the road is new, scary or really out of character for you – but take it anyway. I once quit an internship after one day (that’s right: ONE day) because it felt so wrong. Everyone called me crazy, told me to wait it out, give it time… But my heart screamed no, so I quit. And even though I can’t show my face there again, I found a great internship one week later and I never regretted my decision. So when that intuitive nudge is there, listen to it and act on it. It’s there for a reason.

3. Don’t compare yourself with other people

This is one of the most valuable life lessons and I still fall into this trap all the time. I try to remind myself every day that we are all different, unique people with different personalities and goals. Nevertheless, I still love to compare myself with other people to find out how well (or not so well) I’m doing in life. And does this make me feel better? Not at all. There’s a poem called ‘Desiderata’ by Max Ehrmann that mentions this: “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself”. I have learned that this couldn’t be more true, but I still have to remind myself every now and then. Focus on yourself, not on other people.

4. Don’t be so hard on yourself

This ‘life lesson’ goes back to why I started this blog (strive to be healthy, not skinny). Focus on what’s important and give yourself a break. I don’t just mean to stop focusing on how much you weigh and how you look, but also to celebrate how far you’ve already come in life. It’s so important to take the time to look back and be proud of your achievements and successes, however small they may be. Of course it’s important to move on from them and it’s natural to want more, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your previous accomplishments.

5. You are the only one responsible for your joys and successes in life

Again, this is so important! No matter who you are or where you come from, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Of course, some things may be a bit harder for you than for others – but it is never impossible. We all grew up with certain ideas about life; how easy or difficult certain accomplishments are or what you should or shouldn’t be afraid of. I truly believe though, that you can change those beliefs. Your beliefs are just that, they are yours, which also means they are yours to change. You really do create your own reality based on what you believe and you are the only one responsible for your own joys and successes. Not your parents, your upbringing or your background. I find this thought extremely empowering and live by it every day.

6. What you do is less important than who you are

This may be the most important thing I’ve learned so far. For a long time I thought that what you do in life defines who you are. This started when I went to school had to decide what subjects to take, and was reinforced when I had to decide on what to study at university and what jobs I would like. We spend a lot of time putting ourselves and other people in certain categories based on what we do, but what matters (or should matter) is who you are as a person. What you do should not define you. I learned that the saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ has a lot of truth to it – and it also applies to yourself. Focus on who you are as a person, how much you’ve grown and who you eventually want to become. And always strive to be happy – even if what you love isn’t ‘cool’ or the path you or other people expected you to take. I know someone with a law degree who is now an actor, and even though he is not winning any Oscars yet, he’s happier than he’s ever been. And I truly believe that’s what’s life’s about.

Emmelyn X

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