I turned 29 last month. It may not be a “milestone” year by tradition, but for me personally, this year changed everything. So much so, I have written this post three times already and been dissatisfied with each one. I don’t know how to put into words everything that I am feeling, but I will certainly try.
Maestro … https://www.youtube.com/embed/N2uKUPhOx0w?wmode=opaque
Oh hey 29! Nice to see you. 10 Lessons Learned While Being 28:
1) To love someone is truly selfless.
I wrote about that a few weeks back, but I can’t stress enough how true it is. Even in re-reading it, I can’t stop crying. Falling in love this year has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done.
<tangent> In a beautiful way, of course, as love in its natural state is beyond any beauty we can articulate. </tangent>
I guess I just never realized how closed off emotionally I have been my whole life. The Shaman tried telling me a few times … (very very very much appreciate all your help Brendan), but it took falling in love for me to actually see it. You can’t see how selfish you are as a person until you have to become selfless. I can hear some of our earlier conversations and I’m genuinely embarrassed. I know I can’t go back, and I know there’s nothing I can do about it, but I even apologized to my dad the other day. I thought back to how selfish I was as a teenager, young adult, ::whispers:: and even when I was a-not-so-young-adult. He of course just laughed, and said it’s what you do as a parent when you love your child.
Selfless. It’s completely selfless, and it’s now time for me to not be strictly on the receiving end.
2) To love someone means you are the caretaker for their heart.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about guys that I’ve dated and relationships I have been in. Looking back critically I think about things I could have done differently, or steps that I might not have seen. While I can’t go back, I can stop history from repeating itself.
To love someone means to encourage their desires, whatever or however weird/ wild they may be – while at the same time walking on your own path. If the two of you continue to march down that same path, great! If not, great! It’s not your job to dictate which way things will go or change your own desires to appease. We are only the caretaker for our partner’s heart for however long we are on the same path. It is of course impossibly difficult to not want to change aspects of yourself to give in to whatever path your partner is going down, but you have to be honest with yourself and honest with your relationship. If you cloud things with the reality of “it’ll all just work out” you aren’t leading an authentic life. Relationships are work, man. They take two to tango, but if you realize your partner is hurting you have to accept the fact that you can no longer be the caretaker for their heart. Love, again, is selfless. Sure, at first, you’ll want to scream and get mad – but you have to understand that that is just your ego talking. Loving someone doesn’t ever change and doesn’t ever go away. Just because you’re no longer the caretaker doesn’t mean that the care given is suddenly null and void. It simply means it’s time to go your own way.
3) Leading an authentic life is really, really hard.
I’ve spent so much of my adulthood wanting to “find myself.” In doing so, I’ve certainly had a lot of fun … but even in the process I was still hiding behind a persona. I was no less closer to understanding who that inner being was before I had even gotten started. Of course, you don’t really realize this, but being on an island for the last few months has been quite helpful. There is no hype here. No bs. You can’t hide from anyone, and that certainly includes yourself.
I had two friends from LA stay with me the other week. One of them turned to me at one point and said, I’ve gotten to know you more in these last few hours than I have in the last 2 years. Normally, I would have been hurt or gone on a huff and puff of how “I lead this transparent life, yada yada.” Instead I just smiled because I knew that while it was unfortunate he was right, I was actually glad that I knew I was speaking from my heart and layer by layer a more authentic individual is unfolding. I’m sure this process is going to take a really long time, so I’m just going to leave the rest of this thought at just that.
4) Confidence and character are built through experiences.
I was in Jamaica a few months back, and while I was on a tour of one of the plantation homes they talked about how the kids growing up here would have to carry these buckets in each of their hands. The buckets alone weighed 15 lbs, and when they were strong enough to carry not only the buckets but fill them with water they were ready to work in the field. At any other time in my life, I would have thought that it was child abuse, and move on. Looking back critically at my own life, I have been extremely sheltered. Even in not having a home, and all of the adventures within this website, I still had the protection of my own computer. I crafted all of these walls around myself as a barrier, never actually experiencing things in their natural state. In that moment, I envied those children that had that experience. I’m sure they didn’t enjoy it, but the fruits of their labor I’m sure blossomed into a kind of strength I can only hope to have one day.
5) Speaking of strength – you need to work out. Period end of sentence.
28 was definitely the year I got serious about fitness. In my early 20s I was thin, but I did the LA diet of drinking diet coke and eating a piece of cheese when you feel like you’re about to pass out.
While I was exercising at the time, I also greatly deprived my body of the nutrients it needed. I was always tired, and was in a deep depression. Now, I am the same weight I was then, but am leaner and stronger …
It’s no longer about the number on the scale, but the strength that is emerging from deep within myself. It sounds really cheesy, but to me, working out is like showering. If I’m not healthy and presenting the best I can be to the people I come across to on a daily basis, I am denying myself a fulfilled life, and cheating my friends out of a fulfilling relationship. Now, instead of allowing myself to go back into a depression, anytime I’m feeling anxious I’ll go for a run or take a spin class. It’s about getting out of my head and back into my body. I’ve honestly never felt better.
6) Your outer environment represents your inner environment.
I’ve known this for the last few years. I would always notice a correlation between the cleanliness of my room or apartment with my happiness. If I was happy things were clean, but if I was depressed I wouldn’t be able to see the floor – let alone whatever was falling over in the closet. This past year, I wake up, make my bed every single day, and clean the house daily while leaving time on the weekend for a full clean. I’ve developed discipline and an appreciation for both of my environments. I take pride in my home even if no one else is there to see that I clean, I know it is, and that feels good.
7) Stop relying so much on other people’s advice, find your own.
A friend of mine called me out a few months back for always sticking my head in various advice books, or stories of other people’s adventures and their lessons learned from their experiences. Let me ask you something, he said one day, what did you actually learn from all these “wild” adventures that you’ve had? I don’t know, I shrugged. It’s like people who read Bukowski, or Kerouac, he continued. They so badly want to align with this individual that they try to follow this same path, and do the same things. All I got from the “wild” experiences were just that – good stories, I said. I’m grateful, I certainly don’t regret a second of it, but I know for a fact I’ve learned more in these last few months of just watching and truly experiencing something for myself and not just for a story. You can go out and have a wild adventure, he continued, but all you will ever end up with is just that. You can’t go expecting to learn something, you just need to be happy with the experience and leave it at that. Down the road, you might be able to look at it critically, but it really is just that – an adventure. He was so right, and I actually had to cut off contact with specific friends just for that fact. I KNOW I will always turn to them for advice (or talk to them because I know they turn to me for advice), but it’s time for me to develop my own confidence and own decision making ability. I can’t rely on anyone else for this part of the journey.
8) When you get everything you want, you realize it isn’t exactly what you wanted.
This past year has professionally been the best. I had all of these goals, and then I actually signed contracts attaining them. I remember looking in the mirror afterwards though, and not feeling any different. I had pushed and pushed and pushed, but who and/or what was I doing it all for? The only thing in life that ended up changing was my desire to want to talk about any of the projects I was working on. I only needed to tell the world if I was actually marketing said project – but otherwise, I could just be quiet and content with everything that had been accomplished. It was in those moments of stillness, that I was then faced with the reality that none of this had fulfilled me. I got what I wanted, and found out it wasn’t anything that I needed.
9) When a 4 year old tells you she loves you, she really means it.
Recently I was playing with two of my friends Lilly and Adam. Lilly is 4 and Adam just turned 7. We were playing hide and seek and Adam was counting. Lilly and I ran into her parent’s bedroom and she hid under the comforter while I hid behind the bathroom door. A few seconds after placing the blanket above her head she stuck her whole body out and said, “I really love you Jen.” I smiled, telling her that I loved her too, but that Adam was going to find us so she better keep hiding!!!! I didn’t let on to her in that moment, but I can definitely say it was top 3 for age 28. Lilly is radically honest. We were playing once, and I turned her table into a spaceship and she laughed saying, “it wasn’t time for pretend.” I’m fascinated by these kids, and honored that I get to call them friends. Here I am teaching them how to play “red light green light” and “Mother, may I?” and they are teaching me about love and life in more ways than I can count. I didn’t expect that.
10) Speaking of kids, you really do have a ticking biological clock.
I remember growing up watching this scene from Look Who’s Talking … https://www.youtube.com/embed/udx06AHLazI?wmode=opaque
I had no idea obviously what a biological clock – but now? Holy hell that thing ticks and ticks and ticks. It’s scary being a woman and having this timeline biologically that doesn’t take into consideration your dating history, any marriages, job security. A lot of my friends have kids now, and while they say you may never be ready, if you’re like me and want them, you also can’t wait too long.
That scares me, but maybe this is something I will learn to overcome this year. Only time will tell.
Tick tock tick tock.
Thanks for reading.