5 lessons I learnt in 2019
2019 was a year I'll never forget (until 2020 happened - but that's needs another blog post!)
It was challenging in both the good kind and the bad. Some days I felt like I was stranded in the middle of the desert with nothing but the clothes on my back, and others I felt that I was on top of the world. After speaking with many people in my life, it seems that I wasn’t the only one who had a rollercoaster of a year.
Whilst it’s easy to blame it on Mercury Retrograde or the fact that I’m facing my Saturn Return, there is more that we can control than we think we do. So I have decided to take this year as a year of learning and share with you the 5 key lessons that 2019 taught me.
1. In order to move forward, sometimes you need to go backward.
Do you remember as a child playing with those little toy cars that you had to pull back in order for the car to be propelled forward? They are the perfect metaphor for life. Going backward does not mean moving from where you are, but rather it is about stepping back to see the bigger picture. The bigger picture is the grand scope – it’s remembering why you started in the first place, analysing where you are now, and seeing the path to where you aim to be.
2. Life is short, so make the most of every opportunity.
This year I went to 6 funerals! No, that is sadly not an exaggeration. But what is even sadder is that only 1 of those 6 beautiful people was elderly. To say this year has humbled me is an understatement. In fact it was the first time in my life that I felt very aware of my own mortality, even though I am young and healthy. It’s both scary and some what freeing to have this epiphany. I now know that sweating the small stuff is simply not worth it, nor is scrolling mindlessly on social media, or fighting with a friend or family member over something menial. Let’s face it, life is short, life can be brutal, but life can also be full of wonderment and joy. In 2020, I vouch to harness life in all its turbulence, to be present in every moment, to follow my heart, and to not live in vain.
3. Making time for yourself is as important as drinking water.
You know the drill.. you have your blank week ahead of you and slowly but surely every little blank space gets filled with work, social events, meetings or walking your friend’s dog that you promised 6 months ago, ultimately leaving no time for, well you. The weeks go on and on like this until…. the dreaded burnout hits, leaving you exhausted, stressed and unmotivated. I know this all too well and it was a recent trip to Mexico that gave me new found perspective. It was the first time in years that I went on a holiday where I could actually switch off. No laptop, no phone, no emails, no nothing (besides beach, margarita’s and way too many tacos). I came back a new person and I promised myself to implement the ‘switch-off’ in my day-to-day life (sans the margaritas and tacos…well maybe a few here and there), and to schedule in ME into my blank week first. It has allowed me to maintain harmony in my self, in my relationships and in my work. I am a better person for it, I am less stressed, less tired and more motivated than ever.
4. Always trust your instinct.
Instinct: also known as our moral compass. It’s what guides us through our experiences, makes our choices and decides what path we should take. It is also that quiet voice that says “something isn’t right here,” or “are you sure about this?”. For many of us, we fail to listen to this voice because our head is saying something else, or a friend/colleague/partner etc has different advice, or we deny the voice in the first place because maybe it’s not the voice or opinion we want to hear. I am guilty of this, heck, we all are. In fact earlier this year I made a big decision by ignoring that voice (I won’t bore you with the details ) and of course the outcome was not what I had hoped for. Our gut instinct, or that butterfly feeling in your tummy when you have an important decision to make, in scientific terms is called our ‘Second Brain.’ Our brain and gut are actually connected by millions of neurons that constantly provide feedback and communicate with one another. In ancient times, this allowed us to respond quickly to predators, now it’s the compass that guides us through life’s obstacle course. So trust your instinct. It’s there for a reason.
5. Courage is always better than comfort.
Okay, I didn’t come up with this myself. We can thank the Queen herself, Brene Brown, for this nugget of gold. In short, we frankly do not grow when we are in our comfort zone. We don’t follow that dream, or ask that person out on a date, or sign up to that gym class you’ve been too nervous to try. In order to step outside our comfort zone, we must be courageous. We must take the leap and step into the unknown. After listening to Brene explain this and saying to choose courage over comfort, I told myself that I would do just that. So I got in front of a camera and spoke about my battles with mental health and in turn, helped many other people with their own mental health battles. I called up that retailer I was too scared to call in fear of rejection, and secured myself a meeting with them. I even decided to start designing with colour (I’m sure most of you know that J.A has been solely black and white- well not for long) and opened my eyes to the beauty of a colourful world (and wardrobe). Ever since I started choosing courage over comfort, I have built my confidence, I have conquered things I have been wanting to do for years. It has taught me that stepping out of what is comfortable and familiar will always lead to something positive, even if its just the joy of being brave enough to give it a go. And for that fact alone, you will never fail in doing so.