For longer than I care to remember, I’ve read articles telling me what I should have achieved by the time I was a certain age. Twenty-one, twenty-five, thirty, forty, even fifty and sixty; we’re led to believe that if we don’t stick to these schedules, then we have somehow failed at life.
I grew up believing that after university, I would land a high-flying job that would afford me the luxury lifestyle I still to this day aspire to. I was going to live in a penthouse apartment with views of the London skyline, dress exclusively in Armani suits and Gucci shoes and travel first class to far-flung destinations on the regular with my significant other. In addition, I was going to own properties in New York, LA and Venice and split my time between them equally.
That life still sounds pretty good to me. A few minor details aside, I could see myself adjusting quite comfortably. However, the reality is that I graduated from university in 2008 straight into a recession carrying tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt. My relationship of two years ended shortly afterwards, and I found myself doing everything I could to keep my head above water in one of the most competitive and expensive cities in the world.
It took my life crashing down around me in slow motion over the course of several years for me to finally realize the things that are truly valuable. I was finally forced to stop and take stock of the things that were important to me, and I can now say without a shadow of a doubt that I am so grateful it did. Only now do I feel like I’ve started to swim in calmer waters.
Here’s what I know. The Universe will always conspire to bring you to where you are meant to be. We all have free will, and as I’m sure you are aware, the choices we make are not necessarily always in our best interests. Lord knows I’ve made some questionable decisions over the years. That being said, I have constantly been steered with a firm guiding hand towards my destiny.
So I want to share with you the things that I have come to learn, particularly in the last twelve months, that will hopefully help you to acknowledge that you’re on the right path, or course-correct before the Universe intervenes on your behalf.
1. Stop Putting Pressure On Yourself
You do not have to achieve anything within a predetermined time frame. If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, that’s okay. It’s unreasonable to assume that everyone will find their reason for being here at twenty-one. Allow yourself the time and the freedom to explore your options. Don’t be afraid to try things. Some will be successful, some won’t be, but unless you try, you’ll never know. As I said before, I’m thirty-five, and I’m still figuring it out.
2. Learn to Practice Self Love
Practising self-love means being mindful, figuring out what you need and choosing to act on that rather than on what you want or feel obligated to do. It’s having regard for your own wellbeing and happiness, setting boundaries, forgiving yourself, protecting yourself and living intentionally. Practising self-care does come into it. However, it’s important to note that self-love is not the same as narcissism. It has nothing to do with being self-absorbed, although there are people who will try and make you feel as though this is the case.
3. Release Toxic Relationships From Your Life
Leading on from self-love, releasing toxic relationships will help you to find a sense of inner peace. Anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself or questions your self-worth would fall into this category. Friends, partners, even family members can make us feel this way. Whilst it can sometimes be difficult to imagine standing up to these people, by doing so, you are stepping into your power and taking away theirs.
4. Own Your Shadow Self
Our shadow self is made up of all the hidden and disowned parts of ourselves. None of us is wholly good or bad. Hopefully, we are the best that we can be, but we all have elements to our personalities that we would perhaps rather weren’t there. Shadow work allows us to uncover those parts of ourselves that we dislike or perhaps don’t know are there and own them. The idea is that we then become whole and can go on to live more creative and fulfilling lives.
5. Know That You Are Enough
This is the big one. Try looking in a mirror and saying the words ‘I am enough’ to yourself and see how you feel. It is truly liberating. So often, we are raised to believe that we can’t be completely happy until we find love with another. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s just not true. In fact, I would argue that we can’t be completely happy in a relationship until we feel whole on our own. I spent many years believing that a relationship would solve all my problems and guess what? I was wrong. When I finally met my then-boyfriend I still had all my issues plus all the issues that stemmed from my looking for the answers in another person.
You are enough. You always have been and you always will be. Say it, think it and believe it every day in order to free yourself from self-sabotaging behaviours and self-destructive thought patterns. When you know that is enough, everyone else will see it too and that’s when you’ll see the positive impact on your career, your relationships and your overall health and wellbeing.