11 things I learned in 22 years on Earth9 min read
At long last, here is the second post I promised in one of my previous post. As I just blowed out my 22nd candle this week, I really wanted to come back on some lessons I gathered along the years. Here are 11 things I learned in 22 years on Earth.
1. I learned that… I should believe in my creativity
Since my childhood, I spent a lot of time shying away from being creative. Allowing yourself to be creative, putting your weird and unfinished ideas into the world makes you kind of… vulnerable you know? I mean, I always knew I was a little weird or different — no point denying that —, but I never thought I could call it creativity. « Nah, creativity is for the artists. You know.. those who know how to think, those who were born that way ».
But, am I creative?, I came to wonder. Maybe I am. Maybe, I shouldn’t block my creativity for fear of judgment. Maybe, what seem like uncommon ideas in my head might resonate with some people. Maybe I should overcome my fears of being vulnerable and make it a priority in my life. Just follow the Will-o’-the-wisp and see what happens!
2. Break it down into small chunks
You see that big mountain over there, it’s scary isn’t it? You know you won’t be able to jump it so you just worry that you will never make it, the journey will be too long and you don’t have what it takes. But all you have to do is to take one step. Just one step, then another, then one after that and before you know it, the mountain will be behind you.
Whatever obstacle is in your way, you shouldn’t let it stop you. Don’t give in to the fear of failing, instead just take the smallest and easiest step you could right now. If you don’t know how to solve the problem, break it down into small problems that you know how to handle. In life it’s okay to go slow, it’s just not okay to stay still.
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3. Slow down and embrace the journey
Speaking of going slow, who said you needed to rush? In our society, we spend so much time running after the next thing, so much time « waiting » for the next moment… that we fail to embrace the ones we have. No one will hand you happiness on a golden plate, you have to take it by yourself.
So, instead of running to please people, just embrace where you are at the moment, find your way back to yourself, back to this moment and stop running after the next one. Remember, life is a journey, not a race.
4. Just show up, everyday
It has got to be the most influential lesson I gathered along the years and it some ways it reflects the second (#2) one. As James Clear says in Atomic Habits, « Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations », it’s easy to get ourselves to visit the gym or to workout twice in a year, but what will ultimately have any lasting effect is what you do everyday, day after day.
I’ll admit that it’s not the easiest to do, some days are harder than others and it’s quite easy for my brain to cook up excuses to be lazy everyday. But as much as I can I show up everyday for what really matters to me. I value reading and writing, so I do it a bit everyday, betting on the consistency rather than on the intensity.
5. First make it functional, then make it pretty
Whatever your craft is, when you start to create, it’s easy to drown yourself into perfectionism. We want to create perfection on the first time, without allowing ourselves to make mistakes, to fail so we could correct later. Yet, trying and failing is part of the process, so I defined in a previous post, this little rule for when I get to create : « First make it functional, then make it pretty ».
That way, when I write or code, when I design, take a picture or a video, or even work on anything, I remember this simple rule. First it needs to work, as wrong as it does, how ugly as it seems, it needs to « be out there », so I can perfect it later. It’s easier to optimize things once they are before your eyes than when they are in your clouded head.
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6. You have the power to change the world
More often than not, when it comes to living well… we only survive. We relegate the power to create our own life to other people, other circumstances, etc because we are too afraid to be responsible for our own choices. It’s easy to find excuses for our own failures : « I couldn’t do this thing because you (or the teacher, the boss, the parent, etc.) didn’t come through for me ». So we end up living our lives by proxies, thinking that we are made to be failures, to evolve randomly in the world. But what if there was another way?
We have have the power to change the world and our voices matter as well. If we stop making choices based on fears but rather on our principles, what we really matter to us, not consequences, then we can regain that power. Out of the 7 billions persons on Earth, it’s only by being unique, by being ourselves that we will find the power to change it.
7. Stress and adrenaline are NOT your friends
For most of my life, I relied on stress, I naturally have a lot of adrenaline and I usually don’t need much coffee or tea to stay awake. So I treated stress as my best pal, seeking that little adrenaline rush that comes when you finish some work right before the deadline or when you get out of a risky situation. It was like a drug, I craved it and it made its nest in every cells of my body.
But it came at a great personal cost: burn out, lack of confidence to only name a few. It was the worst deals in the history of deals, maybe ever (add Trump’s Meme here). Like every drug, stress was not my friend, and it isn’t yours either. Better seek energy and effectiveness elsewhere than to constantly rely on stress like I mistakenly did.
8. Sometimes you have to put yourself first
Now I didn’t learn this lesson the easy way, I’ve always cared more about other people’s well-being, thoughts and emotions than about my own. But, I came to the conclusion that sometimes you have to put yourself first. It’s like in a plane crash or life-or-death situation : the right thing to do first is to put on your respiratory mask and safety buoy, only then can you help other people.
So sometimes, you have to put yourself and your need first, not by being egoistical or anything, but at least by preventing yourself from being completely self-less. You matter as well!
9. If there is no light, be the light
There is a quote I absolutely love in Harry Potter, probably like you do as well :
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Whenever I hear it, I reminded that life is always there, we are never completely in the dark. And at obscurer times (like these days with COVID-19), sometimes you have to be the light. So be the light, find your own inner motivation and fight, motivate your friends and emulate them. Be the spark that starts the biggest fire. You have it in you.
10. You’re right where you should be
Whenever you feel lost. Whenever you feel like the world is too heavy on your shoulder, that you aren’t making any progress or getting anywhere. Whenever you doubt the choices you made in the past. Whenever either of these happens, always remember that you’re right where you should be.
Right here, in this very moment, you are right where you should be. At a crossroads between your past and your future. As long as you give your best in every moment you’re given, you have nothing to fear and nothing to regret.
11. Everything will be alright in the end
Lastly, this is the one thing, the one lesson, that gets me through the everyday situations, whether good or bad, knowing that time is and always will be my ally. Everything will be alright in the end, no matter what. No matter how difficult or painful something seems to be today, one day it will only be an old memory, probably one that will make you laugh.
Knowing that everything will be alright in the end helps me take life a little less seriously, not being afraid to make my own choices, to just enjoy every moment as much as I can, knowing that what matters is not that much what I’m achieving in the moment, but rather moment itself. It won’t come back, so better enjoy it!
Here, that will be all for me today, I hope that you enjoyed this post! What about you, what are some important lessons that you have learned along the way?