As I begin to reflect on the last decade of my life, I can’t help but to think of the lessons life has taught me. Some lessons I genuinely feel I could have lived without, but that’s the thing about tests – every so often, they come unannounced and it’s not about the preparation necessarily but how we manage the test itself.
I have a deep fondness for failing. Odd sure, but It makes me stronger. I come back ten folds. My 20’s were a collection of failures. Losses. Things I couldn’t control – that I so desperately wanted to control, but as I entered my late 20’s, I started to recognize that it was never about the failures or losses so much, but how I handled them. You hear this time and again, but it never really resonates until you’re put in a situation where all you have is blind faith, and that blind faith is the only element that can guide you in the darkness.
In your 20’s you’re a slave to your dreams, and can also feel bounded to the hopes and expectations your family has for you too, and then there is regret. The old servants of regret, linger – oh how they linger. My 20’s were emotional. High strung – even more than my teenage years (just imagine.) The beauty about 29, was I found myself calming down. Not being a slave to my dreams or expectations but simply understanding what it meant to relish in the moment and to accept what life had presented to me. To not let the hopes of my family weigh unusually heavy on me. To not let the servants of regret linger. It takes a different kind of strength to combat such emotions, and I don’t think it’s something that can be taught or something I have conquered by any means – but it is extremely empowering having more control of your emotions, over your thoughts and more specifically being able to distinguish between the two.
In honor of my 30th tomorrow, here are 30 life lessons that I value so deeply:
- Self love is the beginning to EVERYTHING.
- You can’t MAKE anyone love/like you. Whether it be family, friends, or a potential significant other. You have to accept that people are entitled to their own emotions.
- Don’t try so hard to get people to like you. I learned this lesson early on but still struggle at times. All that matters if YOU like yourself.
- Loving your parents doesn’t mean you have to listen to everything they say.
- Not listening to your parents – doesn’t mean you love them any less.
- THE ONLY PERSON ENTITLED TO MY TIME IS ME.
- THE ONLY PERSON ENTITLED TO MY TIME IS ME. (One more time, in case you missed that)
- No is a full sentence. You do not have to explain anything to anyone.
- It is okay to keep your opinions to yourself. (This has been my biggest lesson this year, I have to tell myself constantly, “it’s not that deep, Fatima)
- No need to overshare your life to paint this perfect picture.
- It is [very] OKAY to be different.
- You do not have to be present for everything. You will miss out on some events and that is okay.
- Mental health is JUST as important as your physical health.
- You have to let go of mental attachments. (The bane to my existence – I tend to get mentally attached, because I am naturally an over-thinker – but it is extremely important to allow yourself to surrender to what is vs. what you want.)
- It is okay to cry.
- Healing has no end point, no summation, no finish line. Its the act of dedicating each day to finding yourself and loving yourself, despite how cruel the world can be.
- Being self-aware. Be familiar with all your flaws. Be so enlightened, that no one can ever say, “you’re like this..” and be shocked.
- Truly understanding that physical beauty is temporary.
- Know the difference between poisons that can blind you and the poisons that can open your eyes.
- Compassion is the root to a joyful heart.
- Never settle.
- If you aren’t passionate about something, you’re not living your life right.
- Change is significant to growth. Never allow yourself to get complacent.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being able to adapt will take you far.
- Follow your arrow. The best gift you can give yourself is a lifetime of adventures.
- You aren’t entitled to anything in this world.
- Stand up for those who don’t have voices.
- Be your own hero.
- Be kind to yourself, FIRST and ALWAYS.
- My favorite, most humbling reminder: What is meant for you, will reach you even if it is beneath two mountains. And what isn’t meant for you, won’t reach you even if it is between your two lips.
Thank you 20’s, you were absolutely ruthless but the most incredible teacher I could have asked for. Thrilled for what my 30’s will propose.