Insight and Growth: 12 Powerful Lessons From My 33rd Year

A Close-Up Shot of Letter Dice

As I embark on my 34th year of life, I reflect on the past year of my life. My 33rd year was not an easy one. It was filled with grief, loss, change, release. But those hard times are not to overshadow the good ones. It was also filled with joy, playfulness, abundance, gratitude, and love. It was a year of lessons, a year of breaking old patterns, a year where I was forced to grow. 

My life journey has not been an easy one. I have had many experiences that many are lucky to not have had to have gone through. But when I think about my life and its challenges I do know one thing, that part of my mission on Earth is to bring guidance and healing to others, turning personal hardships into lessons that can support those facing similar struggles.

My 33rd year of life has given me so much perspective. Life is precious and fleeting. We are here on Earth for only a moment in the grand scheme of things. Life is meant to be felt and experienced. The gift of life is the present moment, for this moment is all we truly have. This post serves as a catalog of the lessons etched into my soul during this transformative year.

1. Intention is Everything

When you look up the word intention in the dictionary it says, “an aim that guides action (The American Heritage Dictionary).” It also says, “what one intends to do or bring about (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).” Intention drives and directs your energy. Whether you consciously set an intention or not, intention is there. Your intention is the reason for your actions. 

I realized that my intentions for dating for the past several years, if not my entire life, revolved around wanting to explore, meet new people, and see what’s out there. And while that is a fine intention to have, I wasn’t consciously setting that intention. It was more of what I was telling my friends and my therapist. Unfortunately, my intention wasn’t aligned with my desires. What I genuinely long for is a conscious relationship with a healthy, long-term partner. 

This realization underscores the importance of aligning and consciously setting an intention with your heart’s desires. It’s not just about what we express to others; it’s about being honest with ourselves, acknowledging what we truly seek. Authenticity lies in setting clear intentions that resonate with our deepest desires. By doing so, we empower ourselves to guide our actions intentionally toward the fulfillment of those desires.

2. Hindsight is 20/20.

You are likely familiar with this saying and it’s a lesson that often repeats itself because hindsight is indeed 20/20.

Clarity is a trait that is often difficult to find in the midst of a situation; it typically reveals itself only after you’ve had the necessary time and space away from the circumstances or individuals involved. Sometimes, understanding and sense-making only emerge post an ending or a significant change. 

This past year my daughter’s father passed away from a drug overdose. He had struggled for years and years with substance abuse disorder and homelessness. Watching him spiral out of control was truly tragic and one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Over the years this situation has been one of my greatest teachers. While I cannot change the past, I can learn and grow from it. His passing brought up a lot of feelings and thoughts I thought I had moved on from. Regret, shame, and anger that I thought I had let go of. Letting go is something that happens again and again and again. It is not a one and done. It also allowed me to see that there is nothing I could have changed. It was in these realizations that I found a deeper sense of clarity.

Our attachments keep us stuck and blind. Once we have the time and space to reflect, the lessons become clearer. Self-reflection emerges as a vital tool for growth, offering valuable insights, particularly when guided by the clarity that hindsight provides, revealing the nuances of our experiences.

3. Nothing is Personal.

This has been a mantra of mine for the past several months. People are usually more concerned about themselves than what you are doing. Yet, we tend to take so many things as if they are personal offenses. The person that cut you off while driving on the freeway- not personal. Your child snapping at you when you ask them to clean up your room- not personal. Your boss’s text on your day off asking about your sub plans- not personal. 

4. You Cannot Control Other People’s Perceptions.

Everyone and everything has its own unique perception. People’s perceptions are based on their past, their patterns, their thoughts, experiences, and beliefs. People’s perceptions are most often about them, and not you. 

I have spent so much time trying to manage other people’s perceptions of me, only to realize that this is impossible and unnecessary. I have noticed a pattern of over-explaining in an attempt to try to manage someone’s perception. “If only I can get them to understand,” would be my thought.This pattern has manifested repeatedly in my relationships, how I present myself to the world, and in my online presence.

5. Follow Your Intuition.

Your intuition serves as a guide. The more you ignore it; the harder it is to hear, but the more you follow it; the louder it becomes. I have learned that my intuition comes as an instantaneous knowing. It’s that first hit of knowledge before the mind begins to interject with doubt. 

Recently, one Friday after work, I sat on the couch and was thinking about how I needed to go for a run, how I didn’t want to make dinner, but I also didn’t want to spend the money to go out to eat, and that I didn’t want to eat something cheap but unhealthy, like In-n-Out. As I sat there mulling over these thoughts I decided I just needed to get up and run. My intuition told me to forgo my usual route and take my route less traveled. I didn’t second guess this or question it. I just got up and went. As I was running, I saw that there was a city event being held at a nearby park. As I got closer, I saw a sign that they were having a ribbon cutting ceremony and there were free tacos. I ran home to get my daughter and we went to the park to enjoy the free tacos. Trusting my intuition led to this delightful experience that I would have missed otherwise.

6. Trust.

Trust that you are protected, supported, and Divinely guided. Trust that everything is working out for the highest good. Trust that everything is working out for a greater plan. Hold that trust even when life gets turbulent and chaotic. Remind yourself that you have successfully navigated through your toughest days and seasons.

7. Ask for Help.

When times get hard, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask for support. Ask your loved ones for what you need. If you find yourself unsure of what you require, share your feelings and experiences with friends and family. Remember, help is readily available when you take the step to ask for it. It’s a sign of strength and wisdom to recognize when you need support and actively seek it.

8. Look for the Positive.

It is so easy to fixate on the negative, on everything that went wrong. The key is perspective. What perspective are you choosing to have? Negative thinking begets more negative thoughts. Positive thinking and a positive perspective creates more positive thoughts. The choice is yours—what would you rather embrace? Opt for the mindset that fuels positivity and encourages a more optimistic approach to life’s challenges.

Remember, your thoughts are not facts. Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s true. Focus on the positive because where your attention goes your energy flows.

9. Be Present. 

Life is happening right here, right now, in this very moment as you are reading these words. I remember when I was younger hearing my dad say, “wherever you’re at, there you are,” and I always thought it was such a funny saying. The past is behind us and the future is being created in the now. This moment is truly all we have. No one knows what the next moment will bring. Embrace the now, for it is where your life is happening.

10. Practice Gratitude Always.

Practicing gratitude is a simple yet powerful way to foster positivity. There is always something to be thankful for. We are genuinely fortunate to have a roof over our heads, running water, electricity, heat, and a fridge full of food. Cultivating gratitude for even the smallest things is crucial. Make it a habit to express thanks daily.

11. The Duality of Life Exists on All Levels.

The light does not exist without the darkness- this is a law of nature. It is only in the darkness that we can remember the light and how great things were. And we hold on to hope that the light will return again. The contrast of light and darkness helps us recognize the true brilliance of the light. How we choose to respond during times of darkness defines our journey. It is crucial to persevere and keep moving forward.

In both a figurative and literal sense, every death signifies a rebirth. When the old falls away, it leaves behind valuable lessons, paving the way for a new beginning. Releasing something creates space for fresh opportunities. Even in the face of a literal death, the rebirth occurs in the healing of the soul.

12. We Are All Doing the Best We Can.

Everyone is trying their best to navigate the complexities of life. Life’s challenges often require us to draw upon our current understanding and the resources at our disposal. Understanding that everyone is on their own journey, facing their own challenges, allows for compassion and empathy

Moving Forward

As I step into the forthcoming year, these lessons serve as guiding stars, illuminating a path towards authenticity, resilience, and a profound appreciation for the journey, regardless of its twists and turns.

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