There is value in maintaining a degree of privacy and acknowledging your highs and lows without always making them known to others.
We are not built without shame or to be sure amongst chaos and recklessness. There will always be some semblance of a shield that we put up to conceal what we don’t wish for the world to see. To be allowed our secrets, our pain, our struggles and even our successes in silence and peace.
This notion is ever present, whether on a deeper and more meaningful level or a subtle everyday ways. Why do we clothe ourselves? For modesty and to avoid shame. Why do we wrap towels around ourselves after a shower, apart from the fact that it is the done thing? This dates right back to the creation of mankind. Adam and Eve in God’s wondrous Garden. She was created from him and for them to be equal partners. He was allowed to admire her beauty but they always maintained a degree of privacy. When that fell away, due to sin, chaos ensued.
When possible, turn your experiences into teachable moments
Teachable moments are ever present in our lives if only we take the time to look. They are a way to positively reframe a situation to see it in a new light. They don’t exist to invalidate our feelings or find good where it may not exist but to remind us that purpose can be found. In other words, a spontaneous occasion where the opportunity arises to link to an existing story or tell a new one that has an overarching theme and message. At some point, we will all come to confrontation with our abilities and the experiences that have shaped us. It’s crucial that we remain open and humble enough to be willing to learn and evolve day in and day out.
There are no mistakes in this life, just happenings for better or for worse. It is equally important to know what doesn’t work as it is to know what does work. To be familiar with processes, with the journey of being and becoming. The great leaders and role models we know are constantly drawing from their pool of knowledge, a privilege available to them through hardship, nonlinearity, change and the curiosity to question and challenge.
We are not always born equipped with the tools to succeed or be great. We are made better through the advice and teachings of others. Having this mindset of being a learner and a teacher simultaneously has helped me shed old skins and embrace courage as a core virtue. I like to think of it as a simple way to trailblaze, to give the next person in my situation and with the same questions an easier time. This is my driving force behind sharing teachable moments, especially when I hold shame in connection with them. It’s a way to release the power and hold they have over me.
We must relinquish the need for control and leave room for change and unpredictability.
There is a place for everything and everything should be in its rightful place. Dinner comes before dessert and drinks are served before dinner. Jumpers should be folded, shirts should be hung, pressed neatly and without a crease to be seen. Socks must be matching, shoes lined up in an orderly fashion beside the door. Power switches should be off when not in use. Curtains should be drawn after the sun sets, lest you invite the neighbours to peek in. My peace has always been found in rules and order. In routine, in living on my own terms and with respect to a schedule of my choosing. I find rest in the melodious harmony of precision. It is very literally music to my ears. There is no clutter I cannot tidy up. No chaos that cannot be returned to its natural state of calm.
At what point though do rules become a prison? Have I chained myself to them in fear or what is uncertain? Do I hide from what renders itself unclear? I am honest enough to admit that I do. The stress and upheaval that came with a mental health diagnosis in my early teenage years saw me become stricter and more regimented with myself than I’d care to admit. I’d hold myself to impossible standards and hold control as my superpower. A survival tactic to ensure that I could always see the path ahead and therefore be able to plan out and understand my future. It is tiring though. My heart beats in my chest, my thoughts wander and I begin catastrophising. I enter a cycle of overthinking that ends only with resolution. This act of tunnelling is rarely helpful. My sense of desperation becomes palpable. Ultimately, I am not the same person I once was and need not carry with me the behaviours I used to. They serve no purpose but to pull me back into the past.
Emotional maturity leads to mastery of self- being calm in the face of adversity improves our response and ability to think rationally.
My previous point ties in well with the concept of emotional maturity. One of the most infuriating realities to stumble upon is our humanness, our tendency to act emotionally, particularly when presented with a reminder of our lack of control. We amble merrily through life with the somewhat naive belief that the keys to our future are in our hands. That we are in charge no matter what. Every now and then, this unlikely fantasy tends to get interrupted by a knock on the door from real life. Unfortunate events do happen and they can leave us teetering on our tiptoes, afraid we’ll fall off the brink into an abyss amidst our confusion. A single phone call, a shattering conclusion or realisation, an unexpected and unwelcome interruptance to our day. That’s what it can take to unnerve us. Wading into the unknown has seen me become highly strung and tight as can be. Plans and the privilege of having certainty sustains me. I don’t work well when boundaries and guidelines become fuzzy. Feeling off kilt throws my entire being into somewhat of a self doubt frenzy.
The process to making peace with all that’s unknown is a slow yet steady one. What I’ve learnt along the way is that you must delegate. You can’t take responsibility for everything and bear all weight upon your shoulders- you are a single person with enough time and energy for bits at a time. It’s necessary and understand to seek help and pass the baton to somebody else when and where possible and appropriate. When we do this, we must release our grip entirely and resist the temptation to demand a task be done one way. The nitty gritty details of life are just that. Learning to go with the flow is a brilliant act of emotional maturity. An intentional unclenching of fists and extending of palms.
As a writer, I’ve found healing a solace in the act of content creating without a set plan or picture as to where I’m headed. The pieces just fall into place naturally and with timely eventuality. Just as paintbrushes strike canvas and fingers stroke keys, I can be sure that a way will be made. When we create, we do take risks. We break ourselves open in eager await of what will spill out. As a writer I find myself under a spell. I am the messenger, the conduit for the words that choose to come forth and spell out a story. They are not up to me but flow through me. The human experience will always be a highly emotional one but we need not let it override our purpose. Within all of us there is a pull to take control, a natural instinct that beckons and bellows for us to bow into fear and wrestle tightly on imagined reins. Evolution however, has always called for adaptability. What space is there for inflexibility in this day and age? To keep moving forwards and do so at optimal wellness, we must let go of the monkey bars behind us. To swing forward, stretch out a hand bravely and hope with all the might within our hearts that someone thought to build another bar after the last. Now this is a feeling more freeing than you could imagine.
In some cases, it can serve you well to be prepared for circumstances you haven’t encountered yet but will in the future. Go the extra mile now and make that investment while you have the time and energy.
An hour of planning can save you many hours of active doing. Proper planning and preparation prevents poor and lacking performance. Ultimately, it determines your achievement. Working in advance, stockpiling, batching and the like while the opportunity is available to you is never a bad idea. Mental mind mapping is a great way to extend this idea to all aspects of your life in a more general and broad sense. It will help you to consider new angles and provide answers to questions that haven’t even been posed as relevant yet. In doing so, you’ll cover all bases and be one step ahead. You can act in prevention instead of having to do damage control. If there are any shortfalls, you can remedy them in a timely and reasonable manner instead of scrambling around. Time invested into assembling and pulling things together is never wasted. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and heartache in the long run and have developed a tool that you’ll use throughout life for greater ease and success. Be a person of this distinction and watch your everyday fall into place.
I have somewhat of an extreme example to illustrate this point but I’ll run with it as every word is true. My partner was in a head on car crash recently. He’d made a move whilst driving that he wasn’t entirely sure of, compounded by another drivers misinformed and ill timed wave for him to pass by before the light changed. Out of nowhere, whilst his view was obstructed, a truck pulled out. There was no time to swerve out of the way completely, only just enough to change the angle at which he’d be hit. In doing so, he saved his life and minimised damage greatly. In the spirit of thinking of hoping for the best yet planning for the worst, he’d kept a kit at the back of his car with a variety of essentials for any number of situations you could encounter while driving. A spare tire, a crowbar to prise apart metal, a hammer to break glass and the like. This paid off because he ended up needing a number of these items as he attempted to exit his car through the boot.
There’s a reason for this season: often times we cope by finding reasons to support our reality or a situation. How am I going to be an optimist about this?
At any given time, we have the unbelievable power of our minds at our disposal, just ready and waiting to unlock. Your mind is a vast expansive tool that will see you flourish when you treat it kindly and feed its good side. Just like most other people, you probably spend very little time reflecting on the way you think. The problem with this is that your thinking determines your reality. If you draw inaccurate conclusions about who you are and the capabilities you hold, you’ll limit your potential. There is a direct link between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Your thoughts are a catalyst for cycles that will self perpetuate until you decide to break them. The thoughts you reinforce and give direct hold over you will serve to influence your movements. It is a chain reaction that can propel you forward or see you set far back. Let’s consider the Law of Attraction here. The only real magic that we undergo throughout this process that transforms our lives is that of mindset. Once you draw a conclusion about yourself, you’ll naturally look to do two things- establish a rapport with the evidence that cements your belief and discount anything that runs contrary to that. This stops you free seeing rightly, from understanding that success is not as a result of luck and mistakes not a signifier of failure but a push to redirection. It’s your beliefs that aid you in peak performance. Creating a more positive outlook will lead to better outcomes as your behaviour changes to align with a more productive way of being. Whenever possible, challenge your conclusions. Be intentional about taking a long hard look at the labels you’ve placed on yourself and removing them when needed. Your beliefs need not restrict your potential because thought is not truth, just as reality is not set in stone. It shifts in miniscule but perceptible ways every second. Little things make all the difference. Take note of any times where your beliefs weren’t reinforced. When you acknowledge exceptions to the rule, you’ll begin to see patterns and trends that stray from what you believe. Be brave enough to challenge your beliefs through testing and experimentation. Do things that make you feel worthy. Step outside of your comfort zone. Train your brain to view differently and give up self limiting beliefs.
Acting with kindness isn’t going above or beyond- being a person who takes the time to care for others and show an interest in ways that are often overlooked has unlocked a core tool when it comes to social connection.
I’d say to always be intentional when seeking out ways to brighten someone’s day. Can you identify a gap where there is a need left unfulfilled? Can you be of service in any way? Through what ways can you get to know someone better? What can you give of yourself, even that of which comes at no cost? How can you make an impact and do something meaningful? These are all great questions to ask and can serve to guide you to a great personal answer.
A small way I’ve taken to showing kindness is by having chats with people that go past small talk. Perhaps I’ve just finished up with a class and want to show my appreciation to the teacher for their willingness to present the lesson in a way that’s engaging, relevant, touching or resonant. It’s so easy nowadays to produce slack lesson plans- to assign textbook or online work and leave students to it. Teachers are frequently underappreciated but they do society’s essential work. Education is power. It’s standards of living, of being, of having, of knowing.
On my last day of high school, I had to collect signatures from all my teachers and the heads of those subjects. Many of them wished to have a chat with me and find out more about my plans for the future. They took a genuine interest in what I had to say, commended me for being brave enough to choose differently to the beaten path and even shed a tear here and there. It is a feeling like no other when you are seen, heard and acknowledged. We all deserve that. I now make a habit of speaking to my teachers after a class and telling them a relevant story, sharing my experience or engaging in a little back and forth that pertains to what they’ve taught.
Similarly, if I’m at the hardware store deciding on paint, at a homewares store choosing decor or even just chatting to people picking up old furniture at my place, I’ll go that extra mile and talk about myself and what I do, then invite them to do likewise. You can find out so much this way! Just the other day there was a couple who picked up a bedroom setting that was cluttering my room. I was so grateful when the space was finally cleared and managed to find out a few new things about the college I’ll be studying at. The lady had a friend whose daughter took graphic design classes at Billy Blue college and now lives and works abroad, moving from London to New York City to the next place all the time. Another simpler way to give is to offer your help when at someone’s place. Clear the dishes after lunch or dinner, wash up. Just lighten the load on your host!
Nobody is ever truly independent- life takes a full circle for all of us eventually.
it’s okay and necessary to ask for help throughout life and to cultivate gratitude for receiving it. We can’t be ashamed of the stage we’re at and the resources we’re equipped with, however limited we may feel they are. At the end of the day, we’re only human and everyone’s life takes a full circle eventually.
We start off as babies and children, relying solely on the experience, understanding and abilities of our guardians to carry us safely through the years, providing nurture and opportunities for learning along the way. As teenagers and young adults we taste freedom, hopping out of the kiddie pool in favour of the vast and wonderful world that awaits. We experience alignment and derailment across all aspects of life. We find out that there are two inevitabilities- death and taxes.
Nonetheless, we experience bounties. Boundless time, energy and the drive to matter and make a difference during our best years. As we age, or so I’ve been told, that spark wears off. The zest and excitement for life peters out. We grow weary, diminish in our capabilities and contemplate the sheer bizzarity of being looked after in the same way we used to care for our children. Just like that we’re being spoon fed again. Look, here comes the airplane! We can only hope there is no use for diapers just yet.
Seventeen is a strange age because you’re right on the brink of something huge, something life changing. Within a year or less, the clock will tick over and you’ll enter into the phase of new adulthood. While this is a certainty, there is no manual or rule book that lays out the steps to success. No two people will have the same experiences, after all. I can’t honestly say that this has been a long time coming. I feel like I’ve barely broken out into the world. I still remember being five years old and struggling to identify a two dollar coin. I was so genuinely baffled by that experience- it was sweet, innocent and laughable and it feels like just yesterday.