What I'm Learning About Myself at 29
One of the biggest realisations of my twenties is that we’re never done with learning. Every phase of life teaches me something new, and I’m sure that will continue to be the case until I’m old and grey. We’re never done with self development, and I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty exciting. I feel like I’m doing a lot of learning in this last year of my twenties. Perhaps it’s the milestone birthday on the horizon that has got me feeling more pensive than usual, or maybe I’m reaching the point where I have enough experience under my belt to start piecing things together a little more. Regardless, it feels good to crack new codes, to uncover different parts of myself that I hadn’t figured out before.
And today I thought I’d share some of those new mini revelations I’ve been having. Here's what I'm learning about myself at 29...
1) I am the only person who can give myself permission
It’s taken me a really long time to learn this lesson, and I can only imagine how different my twenties might have been if I’d figured this one out sooner. But finally realising that I’m the only person who can give myself the permission I need has been one of the most empowering lessons I have ever learned.
I have spent so much of my life waiting for permission from others. I have relentlessly toiled away in the hope that somebody would notice. I have poured so much of my energy into other people so that they would validate my choices. I have spent countless hours dreaming of a different life, but never taking any action because nobody had told me that I could.
Learning that I could be the person to give myself that permission has been so freeing. Knowing that I’m the only person who can make those changes has been the biggest kick of motivation I’ve ever had.
2) Saying no means I can say yes when it matters
Speak to anybody who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m a yes person. Yes, I’ll come along to your birthday party. Yes, I’d love to help out with your project. Yes, I’ll work extra hours this week. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes - that’s how I’ve been my whole life.
And for the most part, I like saying yes. I like being the sort of person who shows up for my friends and family, the sort of person who can be relied on to get the job done. But there’s no denying that saying yes all of the time can take its toll. Saying yes to everything leaves me burnt out and anxious and tired and unproductive.
And so for the last 6 months or so, I’ve been practicing saying no every now and then. I’ve been putting real boundaries in place and protecting my down time. And I’ve learnt that by saying no more regularly, I can say bigger and better yeses to the things that really matter.
3) Time spent alone is not optional for me
I’m a classic extrovert - I love to socialise, I figure life out through discussion, and I always feel energised after spending time with others. For so long, I believed that being so extroverted meant I didn’t really need to spend time alone. In fact - I would avoid it like the plague, filling every last hour in my diary with plans and social commitments.
However, just over a year ago I started a new job that involves working from home alone for 3 days a week. Suddenly I was spending a minimum of 25 hours a week alone, and I’ve realised just how vital that time has become for me.
I am happier, more creative and more productive when I make the effort to cut out all of the noise and tune in to my own thoughts for a little while, and that has been a revelatory discovery for me.
4) Life is better when you’re making an impact
One thing that I’ve always struggled with throughout my twenties was the feeling that the work I was doing wasn’t having an impact. It’s hard to feel like you’re contributing to the world when you work at a huge corporation, and so often I would finish a busy working day feeling like I hadn’t really done anything of importance.
By pivoting my blog and business, I feel like I’ve really been able to fill that gap. I’m creating content that not only feels important and useful to me, but that is resonating and providing value for so many of you, and that has dramatically improved my sense of wellbeing.
Getting emails or messages to say that my podcasts or blog posts or weekly letters have inspired or impacted you in some way makes me feel like I’m contributing again, and I can’t tell you how good that feels.
What are you learning at the moment?