As I watch my 12-year-old daughter start to go through the typical growing pains of middle school, I can’t help but want to put some little life lessons in writing for her. When I was her age, my dad taught me so much about how the world worked, and though through a super cynical lens, I learned a lot. Today I’m still learning to navigate successfully-ish with the guidance of my husband, my mom and a select few. We should never stop asking questions, adjusting our sails and changing our course.
Does it make you happy doe?
This should be the first question you ask yourself when making even the smallest decision. Over the past few years it’s been my go-to. It’s not difficult to manage your life if this is your priority because the world is full of people who don’t give 2 shits about you or your happiness. Trick is not getting stuck in the spiral of immediate gratification, because in the end… most times than not… you’ll screw yourself.
Boundaries are mandatory.
There are always going to be people who want something from you, whether it’s your time, your kindness or your energy. Everyone wants to be happy and there are some who feel it’s impossible to get there without constantly relying on you. It’s not our responsibility to guide them, especially if the price is too high. We can’t get stuck in the trap of losing ourselves to assist others. Without limits, we can be sucked dry and left frustrated and resentful. The only people that cannot accept a “no” are the ones that only care about their own wellbeing. Only you know your limits and the sooner you establish them, the better off you will be. If you have the capability and the energy to help others, always do so. Nothing is more rewarding than lending a hand, if you are clear when you’ve had too much.
It doesn’t really matter.
In the grand scheme of things, most of your difficulties today don’t really have much of an impact on your life. Always ask yourself, “Does it really matter?”. Most of the time, it just simply doesn’t. Think about the things that upset you yesterday… The guy that nearly side swiped you because he was on the phone, your best friend ignored you at school, your crush has a new bae and you feel inferior. Whatever. Step back and look at your life so far and how much you have ahead. It’s literally a blip on the radar. This is perspective. You need some of that stuff.
Learn from your mistakes.
Always use your experiences to learn what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be one of those people that constantly makes the same damn “mistakes” over and over. Nothing is more annoying than the victim mentality. Everyone is busy, everyone gets sick, everyone has bad days… but constantly being in the hole, continually getting into bad relationships, or having multiple bankruptcies means you’re the asshole; not the world. Take your “failures” and use them as learning tools. Keyword learning.
Never allow someone else to dictate your emotions.
This is a tough one for me, because I haven’t mastered it yet. I feel like the silliest things trigger me. I can only ask myself why. Why are the actions of someone else creating such an emotional response? Is my ego taking over? Are there insecurities surfacing I didn’t know about? The world is not unfair or out to get you… your reaction is. The situation is only as big as you make it.
Don’t talk shit.
Talking about other people shows incredible weakness. Don’t do it. If there is something you don’t like about someone- use it as a lesson of what not to do yourself. Think she’s an asshole for crying over spilled milk? Don’t cry over spilled milk then. We all make judgements… She never should have bought that car if she can’t afford it, he talks too much, she’s selfish, she got fat… Rather than bitching and moaning about people or things that you have no control of and have no impact on your life, focus your attention inward and don’t do that shit yourself. Period.
Cha’ cha’ changes.
Everything changes. Literally, everything. All. The. Time. My mom used to tell me never to get married before I turned 30 because the difference between ages 20 and 30 are drastic, and she (of course) was right. My viewpoints, religious beliefs and goals were completely different in my 20’s then they are now. In conversations with my elderly family members I know how much will change in the years to come, as well. Being able to manage emotions in a healthy way and adjust to those changes will be essential… for all of us.