Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could time travel back 5 years and tell yourself, “Sis, listen... Here are some things you need to not do and need to do.” Unfortunately, we have only figured out space travel but not time travel. Then again, the unknown is what makes our life challenging and exciting. The lessons we learn are what makes us human.
What I do know for sure is that this is my only life, and I must live it the best way I know how. I really believe that learning to live this life fully you must be able to see and learn from your mistakes, experiences and decisions. The lessons we learn cannot make us feel shame, but we should use them to empower ourselves and others to living well.
When I turned 30, that seemed like a really important milestone. I wanted to somehow turn that age into a “movement” in my life. I launched We Are Kathy with the help of some amazing women. I tapped into my vulnerability (thank you Brene Brown and a lot of therapy) to share my story and learn from so many of you. I found love and, more importantly, learned what real love looked like. I refined my passion for photography and dedicated my time to it. I’m also learning to love myself -- flaws and all.
For this post I want to express some vulnerability and share the top 10 things I have learned in the years leading up to 30
1. Friends come and go and that’s okay. A change in friendship does not devalue that time or those memories. Over the years I have had some really close friendships that for whatever reason fell away. I used to look at the change in friendship bitterly, and constantly consider what I did wrong. The memories of those friendships hurt, but I’ve learned that those memories with old friends are still beautiful. That time spent with old friends was great, and that is enough. Friendships change, and that is okay. We grow, we evolve, and people will come in and out of our lives. Enjoy them while you can.
2. Self care— it’s so important. Find your one exercise, your one way to move and push yourself. Find a way that moves your body in a way you enjoy and stick to it. Your brain, body, and mind will thank you for it. Sometimes self care for me is an hour of yoga, a quick run, or dancing once a week. I can feel the weight lifted after I give myself the time I need to get my heart racin’ and get my mind completely off work.
3. Therapy. Life changer. There was a time when I knew I needed to start therapy, but I couldn’t get over the hump of actually making an appointment. One day at work, a friend told me everyone should do therapy for at least six months of their life. She could not have been more right. Therapy helps you recognize so many essential things about yourself. We all need a little help sometimes.
3. Treat yo’ self… not to be taken excessively. However, you do have to find that thing that you do for you, and only you. Sometimes doing something because it gives you joy is more important than doing something because it brings reward. You gotta fill that cup if you want to give back to the world around you.
4. Not all friends have to be a 10/10. I once had a mentor say to me it’s immature to expect every friendship to be a 10/10. Some friends will be a 5/10. Enjoy that friendship for what it is. Don’t stress and try and make certain friendships bigger than they are. Learn to love and appreciate a friendship whatever it may look or feel like. There is so much freedom when you take the pressure off of a friendship to be something it isn't meant to be.
5. Patience. Sit yo’ ass down. There is nothing that I have done well that I did over night. This lesson has been the hardest because society pushes us to feel success can happen over night. What you don’t see are the countless hours spent alone that creatives spend toiling at their work. Take notice that you are not where you started, even if it doesn’t seem like you’ve traveled very far. Take your time, take a deep breath and keep pushing along. You’re the little engine that can.
6. Myers Briggs- learn about yourself. If you haven’t taken the self test on what Myers Briggs personality type you are, do it. Learning if you’re an introvert or extrovert is so helpful. You will find out if you’re an intuitive or sensing person, feeling or thinking, and perceiving or judging. Being aware of what makes you tick and how you work is magical. This also helps you better understand the people around you. We all need a little more understanding now and again.
7. Your body is beautiful and is not something that should be hidden or shamed. I grew up in an incredibly legalistic, religious and shaming environment. Women didn’t talk about sex, and we sure as hell didn’t talk about the best way to have an orgasm. Girl, your body is YOURS. Learn about it, treat it right and figure out how it works. I’m really preaching to the choir here, but seeing other women overcome their fear of what others think of their bodies….that really inspires me. These thick thighs came from years of running, playing soccer and having Brasilian genes. Instead of hating my thighs I’m going to think of them like exotic fruit… Weird, yummy and sexy. Sex is normal, fun, and beautiful. Women are beautiful. Embrace your body, in whatever way that works for you.
8. You gotta laugh. LAUGH HARD. Think about the last time you laughed so hard you almost peed yourself. You need that in your life.
9. Divorce does not mean game over. The “D” word evokes a lot of shame and guilt in so many women. Divorce isn’t the end of your happiness and for the love of all things beautiful, don’t judge another person’s story. Life is weird and kindness never gets old.
10. Anger is the tip of the iceberg of emotions you aren’t dealing with. I saved the best for last. In nursing school I sat through a group therapy session for men on a psychiatric unit. The social worker guiding the session told one of the men that anger wasn’t the actual emotion he felt, but the expression of what was really going on. The man was suffering from feeling abandonment and isolation. These two emotions led him to act out in anger. Once we are able to identify what is ACTUALLY making us angry, then we can work on what is upsetting us. This is hard for me, I have anger issues. Yuck, even saying that hurts. However, now I know when I am angry I need to stop and search for the actual issue that is stirring me up. Anger sucks, makes you feel terrible after you explode and makes you feel gross. It will be okay. Don’t waste energy on expressing your anger, use your energy to find out what is really going on and bothering you.
There is so much more to learn, so many lessons to be had and I can only imagine what they will be. In the meantime, support the woman next to you, she needs it. Hug your girlfriend, she’ll love it.
We are in this together, your story is my story. We Are Kathy.
Please let us know what you’ve learned to keep you alive and growing. We would all love to hear from you!