53 Lessons I’ve Learned In 53 Years

A few months ago I reached the grand age of 53, which means I have been walking this earth for over five decades. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a mere blink of an eye. But still, I felt somewhat shocked when I actually saw the numbers 5 and 3 sitting on top of a birthday cake (I did swiftly swop the numbers around to read 35 though 😉).

Now I don’t usually put a lot of thought into my age. To me, to a certain degree, it is irrelevant. Yes, ageing brings about physical changes, some of which see me gnashing my teeth – gravity, I’m giving you a hard Paddington Bear stare here. But the trade-off for these changes is wisdom and knowledge.

Would I be twenty-something again? In a heartbeat! But only if I could take with me all the life experiences that have moulded me into the woman I am today. The thought of having to start the journey to becoming me all over again leaves me cold – even the temptation of a backside that doesn’t need scaffolding to keep it in the right place wouldn’t sway me!

The life I have lived has taught me more than a few lessons: lessons that guide me, lessons that make me think, lessons that change my perspective on any given situation. Today I would like to share with you some of those lessons, 53 to be precise. So buckle up, this is going to be a long one.

53 Lessons I’ve Learned In 53 Years

1. I am good enough. A lot of people are scared of doing things because they are afraid that they are not good enough, afraid they will fail, afraid to try. I have learned that I am good enough, just as I am. I refuse to change to fit into society’s’ expectations, I don’t seek the approval of others, I don’t worry about the opinion of others. I am myself – take me or leave me.

2. I am not afraid to make mistakes. We all mess up, it’s how we handle these messes that make us the people we are. I learn from my mistakes and I don’t let them waiver my confidence in my own worth.

3. I swallow my pride. Being too proud to apologise is never, ever worth it – I’ve witnessed relationships suffer and fail due to pride. If I’m wrong I say I’m sorry and darn well mean it!

4. I open up my heart. Life is truly amazing if you don’t close your heart to it. An open heart will experience wounds, but only with an open heart will you truly experience the best that this life has to offer.

5. I’m not afraid to change direction. Our path in life is not set in stone, we have the ability to change direction. I don’t worry about sticking to the path, I take many twists and turns and I’ve had many adventures by meandering off the ‘right’ track.

6. I slow down. Rushing is very rarely worth it. Rushing gives us blinkers – it stops us from seeing answers to the problems that are making us rush in the first place. So I slow down, take a deep breath and re-evaluate.

7. I’m not, nor have I ever been ‘cool’. And I’m fine with that. I wasted a whole lot of time and energy when I was younger worrying about fitting in.

8. It doesn’t bother me that I didn’t go to university. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that university is the only way to get on in life. Some of the most successful people I know didn’t even make it to college. The school system is excellent at producing cogs – we all have the potential to be the engine!

9. I Savour every, single minute of this glorious life. I learned to love the little things that make up each day: the sun on my face, the music on the radio, time with friends and family, the brightness of the stars. I soak up the wonders that surround me and appreciate every, tiny moment.

10. I accept change. Change is the only constant in life and suffering comes if I try to keep life on an even keel ALL the time. So I learned to let go of things, learned to be flexible. I don’t get stuck in a rut, change is inevitable and so I embrace it and move forward in life.

 

51 lessons I've learned in 53 years. Lifesytle blog for women over 50. The Barefaced Chic.
11. I don’t swim with all the other fish. If I find myself swimming in the same direction as all the other fish, I go the other way. I learned long ago that following the crowd rarely leads to happiness – they don’t know where they’re going either.

12. I live in the moment.  Worrying about our past and over- planning for our future or replaying moments that happened years ago simply distracts us from fully living in the here and now. As Elsa says, “Let it go!”

13. I have been given the gift of compassion. When we are young we look at life with selfish eyes, we want what we want and we want it now! Compassion has allowed me to realise that I am no more important than anyone else, and the world does not revolve around me. I try to look beyond myself, beyond my life and seek out the people in pain. Removing even a tiny part of their suffering has enriched my life beyond measure.

14. Everything I need to make me happy is within me. Although I enjoy them all, I do not seek happiness in alcohol, shopping or food. The tools I need to build a happy life are right inside me: the ability to create, the ability to do something meaningful, compassion, gratitude, love – these are the attributes that make up the rich soil on which happiness and self-love grow.

15. Failures are stepping stones. Without failing spectacularly, I would never have learned how to succeed. So I try to embrace failures, instead of avoiding them through fear.

16. I am not afraid to ask for or think that I don’t need help. We ALL need help from time-to-time. We are all learning, and the world is full of teachers. I try to soak up the knowledge around me, and give it as freely as I take it.

17. Sometimes I become the spoon not the cup. It’s OK to stir life up now and again. To be adventurous, book a trip, sleep under the stars, learn something new just ‘because’, talk to a stranger, be silly, laugh, play and be creative. We all need the cup; it’s safe, solid and holds the contents of our lives, but it’s the spoon that gets to twirl!

18. I say no. If I stretch myself too thinly I’m in danger of messing up all over the place. So what do I do? Unless I want my relationships, my health and my work to decline I have to say no.

19. I embrace the fact that I am an introvert. For years I struggled with shyness and introversion – and no, they are not the same thing. Being an introvert as given me the gifts of being a good listener and empathy. I am not broken – I merely function in a different way.

20. Hugs are mandatory. Although I always respect other people’s space, I do love a good hug (or a cwtch if you’re Welsh). A hug can make me feel a whole lot better – and its free.

21. I don’t let offensive people get to me. Yes, I still find offensive and rude behaviour upsetting, but I try not to chew over bad behaviour for days, weeks or months on end. I now handle toxic people and move on with my life.

22. It’s OK to do nothing. I refuse to feel guilty if I’m not filling every moment of every day with productivity. I both demand and enjoy killing time and doing nothing.

23. I take pleasure from the small things. I don’t need to fill my life with more experiences in order to find happiness and contentment in the here and now. There are wonderful qualities right in front of me – all I need to do is open my eyes and my heart.

24. Changing myself didn’t happen overnight. It was a long process, something that happened in little bits over a long period. I still have more to learn, but the progress I’ve made /am making is thrilling. It’s been one heck of a journey so far!

25. It’s not all about the destination. I used to be so worried about my goals that I missed my small achievements. I now do not fixate on one goal, I simply enjoy the journey.

26. I don’t have set expectations. When I used to have expectations about something – a holiday, a film, a book, an experience, a person – I had predetermined thoughts and feelings. The idealised version of events I created in my mind usually had very little to do with reality. I now appreciate things and people for what and who they are.

27. I prefer to give rather than receive. I find giving far more rewarding than getting. I do like presents, but it’s giving that makes me happy.

28. I love myself. But not in an “I think I’m better than anyone else” way. It is human nature to worry about being loved, or being judged. But I know that I AM good enough, I AM a unique human being, I AM a good person – which makes me bloody awesome!

29. Competition is not as useful as cooperation. Without a doubt, competition can be a motivator, and sometimes a lot of fun. Yet it can also be deeply destructive and even an obstacle to the very success we crave. To me, life is not a competition and success isn’t about achieving something, it’s about feeling good about what I am doing.

30. My taste buds can change. I have not consumed meat for 7 months (I do eat fish occasionally), dairy for 7 months and eggs for 4 months. When I started down this path to a more plant-based diet I thought I would miss the taste and texture of meat – nope, in fact, the thought now makes me feel queasy. If you are interested in my change of diet, I’ll be writing a whole post (or possibly filming a video) on why I chose this road at a later date.

31. Sitting still for too long is a killer. Unless I’m having a complete all out slob weekend (and I’m due one) I never stay in one position for too long. I move!

32. Unplugging now and again keeps me sane. I can, without a doubt, make a difference in this world and connect with thousands via my online presence. But, if I don’t unplug now and again, I cannot connect with myself.

33. Comparison is indeed the thief of joy. Being able to seek out and celebrate my own strengths and see my true value is a powerful thing. Without this ability, I can be unmotivated and lack belief in myself. I take inspiration from, but never compare myself to, others.

34. I have a fundamental need to create. For years I quashed this need and it nearly broke me. Creating makes sense of the weird sh*t that swirls around in my slightly broken brain. It has become a crucial part of my life and I now embrace it.

35. ‘They’ are not always right. Other people just love to have opinions about how we live our lives don’t they? They love to give advice about what we should be doing and what we’re capable of. Some of these people may be incredibly well-meaning, but there is a very fine line between advice and criticism – many people overstep it; frequently. I have learned that the only person who knows what I am capable of and what is best for me is ME.

36. I do less. We all try to cram as much into every single day. I try to counter the tendency to want to do as much as possible. I do less and leave some gas in the tank. And I enjoy the less that  I do even more.

37. I have no clue what I’m doing as a mother. I’m faking it and hoping with every fibre of my being that  I am getting it right. I try not to mess up, I try to show my children how much I love them, I try to steer them in the right direction, I support them in their life decisions, I try to encourage the wonderful people they have turned out to be and then, well then I hope! But I’ll let you into a secret – we’re all faking, hoping and doing the best job we can and for that, we should all cut ourselves some slack. The perfect parent doesn’t exist – I’ve witnessed parents trying to be one and it has suffocated the parent-child relationship.

38. I challenge the status quo. I have been a  conformist for most of my life. I was taught in school and via the media that there is a worldview and every human should not question it, we should all go along with it. This, I now know, is utter tripe! Corporations exert so much influence over our information sources that questioning the worldview has become a vital part of seeking the truth.

39. I have empathy. Too often in my life, I have judged people based on too little information. Age and experience have given me a far better perspective. I now try to put myself in a person’s shoes and attempt to understand why he or she is doing what they are doing, and what they may be going through. Meeting each experience with the assumption that others have a reason (good or bad) for their actions gives me a deeper understanding of their behaviour.

40. I don’t capture every moment. As a blogger, it is extremely tempting to share every, single moment in my life and to even feel sad or frustrated if I can’t capture it on my phone, camera or video. I have learned that experiencing wonderful moments is enough. A moment doesn’t need to be shared, or photographed. It doesn’t need social media comments – it is enough, just as it is.

41. Fashion is a fickle beast. I have worn things that I have loved at the time (yes, I’m talking to you massive flares) but there has come a time when I think back and wonder, “WHAT WAS I THINKING?” That is life. Wear the flares!

42. I always try to give back more than I get. And don’t keep score as I do it.

43. My glass is always half full. Although I alway worry that I’m going to tip it 🙄

44. I don’t stop playing. I believe that as soon as you stop playing you start getting old.

45. We all have the same amount of time in a day. BUT we don’t all have the same amount of time on this planet of ours. How we spend our time each day will have an impact on how much we enjoy what time we do have on this planet.

46. It’s never as bad as I think it will be. I used to deceive myself into believing that some things would be really, really difficult or impossible. So much so that I used to procrastinate to avoid said thing – which made it even more difficult in my own mind.

However, once I took action, the difficulty was ALWAYS far less severe than I had imagined. I’m human and as a human I adapt, even to the extremely difficult things in life.

47. I try to never forget where I came from. Some people find it easy to believe that they are solely responsible for success in their lives. I confess that I have fallen into that trap and forgotten where I came from.

At one point in my life, I’m ashamed to say that it became embarrassingly easy to forget that other people helped along the way – I saw my success as MY success. Luckily I put the brakes on this thought process before I ended up becoming a person I never intended to be.

I now give thanks every day, without fail, for all the blessings in my life and the countless people who have contributed to its awesomeness.

48. My vision of the person I want to be is my greatest asset. “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” — Oprah Winfrey.

Wise words! I always endeavour to remember that, no matter where I am in life, I can have the future I want. I plant the seeds of my future with great intention because I truly believe that the blueprint I weave in my head will become the life that I lead.

49. Retirement is not my goal. I truly believe that people who aim to retire have an ‘I’m slowing down’ mentality. I have no intention of stopping or slowing down. I’m like a good wine, I improve with age 😉

50. Love is a bag of Allsorts. Love doesn’t come in one flavour. I love my husband more completely than words can express. I love my children unconditionally and in a way that makes my heart burst. I love my mother with a growing respect for the life she has led and the relationship we are evolving. I love my family for their unique personalities which enrich my life. I love them each in different ways – the word love encompasses a whole bag full of feelings.

51. Life is short. I used to feel that I had an endless mass of time ahead of myself, yet it passes in a blink of an eye. So I appreciate every damn moment!

52. I don’t give in to doubt. Doubt is the devil on my shoulder that tries to stop me from reaching my full potential. It used to make me shy away from doing new things, from going on new adventures, from being creative. These days I am aware of that devil and I beat him with a million messages of self-approval – because he is wrong!

53. I still have a lot left to learn. If life has taught me anything, it’s that I still know almost nothing. I’m often wrong about what I think I know and I’m learning every day. Life still has lessons left to teach me.

8 Comments

  1. Eva
    March 28, 2018 / 1:41 pm

    Wow! I feel like this post was written just for me. I really needed some of these reminders, especially #1 and #48. Thank you and happy birthday!

  2. March 28, 2018 / 4:49 pm

    I agree with Eva! So much of this applies to me too Michelle, although I probably hadn’t thought so until reading your list. It’s pretty timely for me as I’ve been feeling a bit useless lately. There has been so much to organise moving to the U.S that I’ve forgotten quite a few things. For one, I totally forgot to cancel our council tax! So there’s a pointless charge we paid 🙁
    There have been many times I felt disappointed in myself, where I feel I failed to accomplish certain goals & with all the unexpected surprises it’s like an obstacle course some days!
    Now that I’ve read through your post I realise I’m being a bit hard on myself. I have done pretty bloody well considering there are three little people to organise too! Thanks for this mate xxx

    • March 30, 2018 / 3:24 pm

      Goodness woman you are a bloody powerhouse! You have achieved huge amounts over the last few months – I have no idea where you get all your stamina and determination from. Your three little people are very lucky humans xxx

  3. March 28, 2018 / 10:57 pm

    So much truth, I agree with so many of your lessons. So many are me, too many to point out. Thanks for sharing – I do hope you had a lovely birthday. x Jacqui Mummabstylish

  4. Mary
    March 29, 2018 / 3:09 am

    This post was just what I needed to see on my way home from the work day that started at 4:30 a.m. due to circumstances beyond my control! One lesson that comes through so well is that it’s important to live life today, not yesterday or tomorrow. So instead of dragging ourselves home and complaining about the day, after reading the entire post I dragged hubs out for dinner and festive cocktails! Thanks!

    • March 30, 2018 / 3:25 pm

      I hope that you and hubs enjoyed your dinner and cocktails and continue living in the moment!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *