Face your fears · Gratitude · Learning · Moments · Perception · Personal Development · Trust

28 learning’s for 28 years

3093_612912147191_4363690_nThis has been one heck of year full of world travel, meaningful connection, heart ache, super highs, super lows, witnessing extreme poverty and also extreme wealth, new friends, a lotta laughs and face-hurting smiles. It was year of learning through contrasts of all sorts and as my 28th birthday approached (and recently passed), I once again found myself reflecting on the lessons that surfaced as a result of the people, experiences, and moments that made 27 what it was. I share this (non-exhaustive) list with the simple hope that you might reflect on the experiences you’ve had and the lessons you’ve collected that have influenced who you are and how you view the world. Here it goes…
1. Personal development is a destructive process: It’s the crumbling away of untruths, beliefs, habits and perceptions of reality that don’t serve us. It’s the complete eradication of many things we hold to be true. It’s scary, it’s uncomfortable at times, it’s surprising, but above everything else, it’s freeing. Things are never the same once the journey starts.
2. People are often judged by the decisions they make, but what’s rarely known is the options they were choosing from.
3. Everyone deserves to live with dignity and to feel that their presence here matters.
4. People find themselves in your imperfections and it’s often how the most meaningful connections are created: Embarrassing moments, favorite mistakes, thighs that touch,  crooked smiles, spelling mistakes, failed attempts, really really big failed attempts…none of this makes us any less exceptional. In fact, some of the most incredible people I know are exceptionally imperfect.
5. There’s always some truth behind just kidding, knowledge behind I don’t know, emotion behind I don’t care, and pain behind it’s okay. Pay close attention to these, they reveal how people feel.
6. Who we are today is a collection of our past experiences, choices, and things we were told as kids (kids are sponges!). Although it may seem chaotic at times, there’s rhyme and reason to the way we are: The moment that really brought this learning to life is as follows: In a curious quest about my past, I ended up diving into a chat with my mom about my childhood where I discovered that when me and my siblings were kids she used to repeatedly read this particular sentence to us from what is now one of my favorite books, Man’s search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, the sentence was:

“What alone remains is ‘the last of human freedoms’—the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.

That was just one of many insights that surfed thanks to that conversation that helped me connect some ‘Krystal’ dots, but that one in particular stuck out for me because it’s a belief I’ve held for a long time. Thanks for filling my spongy little mind with gold as a kid, mom.
7. We teach people how to treat us by the boundaries we do (or don’t) set and how we treat ourselves.
8. Unlearning is just as important as learning: We came into this world with no expectations, beliefs, or perceived notions of how things ‘should’ be. Since then we have been told left, right and center what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s normal, what the definitions of things like happiness, success, and freedom are, to the point where we often think that what we’ve been told is true, not just for us but for everyone else. Some is good, some not so good but the choice is always ours whether we accept it, or question it and unlearn what doesn’t work in our world so we can create space for learning what does.
9. While I am a social butterfly, I am actually an introvert as its me-time that recharges my batteries.
10. Everyone is capable of being generous, at least once. Everyone is capable of being original, inspiring and connected, at least once. And everyone is capable of leading, yes, even more than once. You gotta believe in people (Thanks Seth Godin).
11. You wouldn’t be able to recognize greatness, kindness, creativity etc. in others if it didn’t exist on some level within you.
12. Moments of vulnerability are moments of magic: When someone tells you their scared, they’re not ok, that they don’t know, when they ask for your help, or on the flip side when they tell you about something they’ve accomplished and that they’re really proud of it; this is honorable, it’s a moment they felt comfortable enough in your presence to let their guard down, they had the courage to be vulnerable and potentially put you’re perception of them on the line. It’s huge and it’s not easy. The underlying message is likely something like, “You know what, I’m not perfect, you might think I always have it all together but I don’t, sometimes I don’t know, and if I show you my weaknesses or tell you I don’t know will you still think of me the same way? will you still think I’m great?” Or something like, “I’m proud of what I’ve done, I feel really good about this, I want to tell you and would love it if you were proud of me too but I’m a little hesitant because it might seem like I’m bragging, like I think I’m better than others, or it might make others uncomfortable, will you still think I’m humble and grateful?” creating the space where the implicit (or explicit) answer to these questions is yes allows people in your life to show up as all of who they are. Which is a perfect seq-way in to the next learning….
13. The only normal people I know are the ones I don’t actually know very well.
14. First times are sacred: Each moment only happens for the first time, once, ever. This year was full of firsts for me (first conversations with new friends, first day of class, first time moving to Victoria and then Malaysia etc.). We often think about last times as sacred (Our last words, the last good-bye etc.) and they are, but first times are special too.
15. If we all feel we are alone in our struggles and dark moments, which we often do, then remember we’re together in that too.
16. When you know better, you do better. Ah, so freeing! In any given moment we do what we know how to do at that time, all we can do is our best and when we know better, we do better (Thanks Maya Angelou).
17. People rarely believe what you tell them, they sometimes believe what you show them, they often believe what their friends tell them, they always believe what they tell themselves. (Thanks Seth Godin). Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself, especially the ones that start with “I’m not or I can’t….”
18. Meaningful connection happens when we can find ourselves in some else’s story.
19. Our emotions give us powerful messages if we choose to listen: If the emotions we are privy to weren’t important they would have been selected out years ago. For example, fear and excitement together is a winning combo for making something great (as long as fear is not > excitement, then we become paralyzed). Envy or jealousy of someone else is a sign that we want to be able to do what that person can do or we want what that they have. So, go get it  🙂
20. I discovered that exercise is my anchor, when that stops, everything else falls apart. What’s your anchor?

21. Words and theories are just that until we experience them, then they become wisdom.
22. We limit others around us by what we think they can achieve (usually based on ill-informed or quick judgments) – these are likely the same limits we set on ourselves.
23. Our perception is our reality and its different for everyone: As you change your reality (what you see and experience) changes too.
24. Being fully present and listening intently is becoming a bit of rarity but one thing that hasn’t changed is our core desire to be heard and understood. Every time I think of reaching for my phone during a conversation, I remember this.
25. The way I see the problem is usually the problem.
26. Everything is negotiable to some degree: rarely are things either/or situations even if they appear that way initially.
27. If you really want to do something, like really want to, you’ll find a way.
28. People, books, songs, and messages come into our lives when we’re ready and need them, keep an eye out for these, it’s no accident.
(Bonus) No matter how big the challenge seems, you’re always going to figure it out because you always have. My mantra when I think I’m in over my head is “breathe, you got this
As I sit here, still at the beginning of my 28th year, I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin (I don’t know if I could have said that a year ago)…and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what this life has to offer.
Thanks for reading and cheers to another great year ahead!

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