(NOTE: I feel so happy today that I almost feel silly posting this intro. BUT I like that it is proof of the fact that sometimes you need to fully feel the icky stuff in order to get to the joy, the love, the hope, and the peace that are always waiting for you on the other side.)
As my birthday approached I started to feel sad, and I caught myself thinking, “That’s not normal. I shouldn’t be sad. You’re supposed to be happy on your birthday.”
Then the wise part of myself came forward to say that thinking this wasn’t going to help me. Recognizing that she was right, I called to the nurturing part of myself that usually only shows up for others. She supported me, saying it was okay for me to feel however I was feeling; that if I felt sad that meant I had reason to be sad and I could let it out. So I did.
I realized that the sadness was about more than just the fact that I wouldn’t be able to celebrate my birthday the way I want to because of my illness. I was sad that it would mark nearly a year of being sick with no definite end in sight, sad that it has been another year that my dad has not been here with us, sad that life as a whole has not turned out at all like I dreamed.
Before long, sadness gave way to anger. I was angry about the years I didn’t get to spend the way I felt I should have had the opportunity to, and angry that my innocence, the idealistic outlook that came so easily, had been taken from me before I was ready.
A new coach friend noticed that my anger had an energy to it. An energy of hope. I was shocked, “it does, doesn’t it?!”
It’s true. I have endured a lot of challenges that most people my age have not. But no matter the heartbreak or injustice, hope remains. Hope is the voice that called out from my anger to say, “Hey, you’re ahead of your time in all that you’ve learned, and that, no matter how painful, will serve you well.”
So later that night I was inspired to type out a list of things I’ve learned throughout the last year. I typed them out rapid-fire on my phone as they came to mind, counting as I went. I decided to stop at 27 and now I have a list of 27 lessons I learned in my 27th year of life on this planet. So without further ado, here are the first 27 things that came to mind. The lessons that will get added to my cherished, hard-won collection that will carry me boldly into the future.
1. Being content with your own company and only your own company is a skill worth developing.
2. It is possible to be resilient and feel completely depleted and fed up with life at the same time.
3. Sometimes your body desperately needs rest, so allow it to have some.
4. Embrace your emotions, even the ones that you fear might suck you up or eat you alive, because they always seem to lead to something valuable.
5. Be honest with yourself and don’t cover your wounds with “positive statement bandaids” that don’t feel true.
6. Make decisions based on what feels right for your soul.
7. Keep a detailed record of all dealings with medical, insurance company, and school district personnel…even the ones you think you can trust.
8. Life coaching rocks.
9. In the medical system you can only get as far as you are determined to push and advocate for yourself, so stick with it.
10. There are times when you need help so much that you aren’t embarrassed to accept it because you’re already filled to the brim with thankfulness that someone is there to provide it.
11. Even when you don’t hear from others as often as you’d like, it doesn’t mean that they don’t think of you and care for you. And there will always be people who will stay by your side no matter how dark things get.
12. There are few things in life so wonderful as talking with someone who meets you with genuine compassion and sits with you in the experience of wherever you are and whatever you’re feeling in that moment.
13. People aren’t ever going to understand what it’s like to be you, and that’s okay.
14. The world is full of exceedingly beautiful and unbelievably horrible things. Whatever comes, you’ll take it one thing at a time, and you will be okay.
15. Meditation helps you let go of judgment and creates the space that makes it possible to experience the peace that’s already within you.
16. There is nothing like the loyal and joyful companionship of a special little dog (named Dino).
17. Try to be as supportive to yourself as you would be to a friend, family member, or anyone you love.
18. Your soul is more stunning than words can describe, and more precious than you can imagine.
19. You don’t need to allow yourself to be limited by the patterns and experiences of your past. There’s always an opportunity to let go of something that doesn’t serve you in order to make room for something new.
20. Life is filled with choices, choices you get to be the one to make.
21. Just because your mind thinks something doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
22. Good health really is one of the most treasured forms of wealth. Fight for it, protect it, and delight in it.
23. Letting go does not mean giving up, it just means you’re making space for the next miraculous thing is yet to be.
24. People are like books; they shouldn’t be judged by the cover. It’s likely that whatever struggle is going on inside can’t be seen on the outside.
25. Even when the list is short, it is always more empowering to focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.
26. Love and laughter help make everything feel a little bit better and help make the world a little bit brighter.
27. Keep an eye out for the small, ordinary things that may just turn out to be extraordinary.