Gillian in a party hat with chin propped on hands smiling at the camera

31 Lessons for 31 years

I was so excited to turn 30 last year. My 20s were fabulous, but somehow 30 just seemed like it would be more sorted, less figuring out and more doing and growing. Well – 30 didn’t quite live up to its promises, but let’s just say it was a rough start and assume it will get better from here! This year on my birthday I decided to put down 31 lessons, one for every year (though some years teach you more than others 🙂 ).

Of course, in the end, none of these things are rules, nor are they always true. Everyone is contextual, and any of these pithy statements can be twisted and turned on its head. That’s probably why I’m drawn to the stage:  The stage is a lie, but the truest lie there is. Movement speaks something that words cannot pin down, and because they can’t, it’s something beyond the games of syntax.

Still, these little things have helped me a lot throughout the years, and maybe, they will help you.

1. Everything I know of life is that it changes, and everything you have, you lose.

2. It’s not that I love to dance, I have to dance. Without it, I am not me.

3. It’s not worth it to try and make people like you.

4. Setting boundaries and saying no is one of the best things I’ve ever learned to do.

5. Luxury is wonderful, but not necessary.

6. Everyone is probably just trying to be loved or be happy, and they don’t know how, like you.

7. The world is big.

8. Don’t take sides – stay on your own side. You can be friendly to everyone without being attached at the hip, and empathizing with someone doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say. Be neutral, but speak your own truth when you need to.

9. You are always evolving, which means that you are never truly self-aware. By the time you know yourself, you’ve changed again. You have to keep working.

10. If food is going to make you sick, you can usually tell right away. If you stop then, it’ll be better for you.

11. Intuition is always right, but it is not always accurate. Still, ignore it at your peril.

12.  Sometimes, when your body is the most exhausted and you feel like you can’t keep going but you do, that is when you start to fly.

13. Humans are the same in their essence, drastically different in their details. That’s also true for countries and cultures.

14. The best way to put yourself to sleep is to imagine a place that is peaceful and interesting – landscapes, tree houses, fantastic things, these work well. Create a journey to get to that place, and visualize it step by step.

15. A clean house is nicer to live in.

16. You can’t force people to change their minds, or really change anything at all. They only change if they choose to do so.

17. With that said, people change.

18. Sometimes being true to yourself means you have to disappoint someone else.

19. If you are going to be out of the box, you have to be willing to leave the box behind.  You can’t ‘follow your dreams’ without being a little bit obsessed.

20. When dreams come true, they become reality. They are still beautiful, but it’s always more complicated than you think it will be.

21. Anxiety is awful.

22. If things are not okay, wait. Most likely, with time, they’ll get better. Everything ends, eventually, even feelings.

23. Relationships are hard.

24. The size of your world depends on your perspective, and you need many. When the world is small, the first sip of a hazelnut latte is the only happiness you need, but you also need to remember often that the world is a whole lot bigger than you and whatever it is you think you know, you probably don’t. It’s good to be able to shift between these.

25. I am privileged, and I always will be. It’s not something I can remove or deny. The best I can do is try to use it wisely.

26. Being ‘colorblind’ really just means you are privileged enough that your color doesn’t affect your life.

27. You always have more to learn, about everything, even the things you think you’ve mastered.

28. Decisions are not made once. You have to make them again and again and again until they just become part of your reality.

29. You don’t have to be mean to stand your ground.

30. Knowing something is one thing, but you don’t know it until you live it.

31. There is always more to the story than you know and will ever know.