29 Things I Learned In My 29th Year

I’m turning 29 this week. This last revolution around the sun has felt like a long one. It may be the isolation of a pandemic or the arduous process of becoming more myself in this isolation.

Right now, I know that there’s a massive shift happening, carrying me from my twenties to my thirties in bold strokes and power moves. But getting here has not been easy, and there are days when being here is just as hard.

On such days, I remember everything that has happened with me through this decade and what they came together to reveal to me over the past year. Here are some of the things I keep reminding myself when I need motivation to keep going and compassion for the decisions I’ve made.

1. We will have to learn many existing truths about ourselves to know them. This is not a waste of time. Our journeys will be richer and foundations more solid for this.

2. Sometimes we will see people deeper than they see themselves in certain spaces. We must let them arrive at their truest nature through their own trial and error processes. Let them learn their truths.

3. We cannot control who we become, but we can direct ourselves.

4. Understanding our energy levels each day is important because everything in a day depends on this.

5. Acknowledging our privilege will help us stay grounded in any space we occupy. It will also help us connect more deeply to ourselves. In places where we feel that the world owes us more, let’s practice asking, Have I come a certain distance along this path easily?

6. Feeling like our complete self where we live helps us occupy room and show up in our lives with more agency, confidence, and courage. Introverts need physical space to be our complete selves.

7. The stories we tell ourselves matter. Only we can give ourselves permission, forgiveness, acceptance, and closure. So we must learn to spin empowering narratives about everything that has happened to us.

8. Since grief is a process that ends in acceptance, it can be a deep lesson in learning to accept the things we cannot control. If we allow it, grief can leave us gentler, softer things.

9. Just like every living thing in nature, we wilt and bloom in seasons and cycles. Our paths will be smoother if we can accept the wilt as deeply as we appreciate the bloom.

10. Creative practice is a hobby for some and worship for some others. For those of us who identify with the latter, it’s important to build our lives around our ability to foster creative work. This is a reliable anchor and compass.

11. The things we create are our art-children. Our work does not end at creating them. We must learn to speak with them, get to know them, and follow their cues on how to introduce them to this world.

12. It’s alright for others to see us as human. Let them see us make mistakes, be silly, and not have all the answers. Our imperfections make us more interesting, not less.

13. Be an amateur. Raw enthusiasm is contagious (hat tip to Austin Kleon for this one!).

14. Be serious about creating fun. Fun is important.

15. Success is not a pretty picture on the wall. It’s a cumulative feeling of victory and joy that has sunk in over and over again. To feel successful, we must incorporate each of our wins into our bodies and minds.

16. If we let the good things in our lives collect without paying them heed, they will turn into angst and cave under the pressure of life we place on them. We must constantly process the good and integrate it into our lives.

17. What the world dubs ‘master-of-none’ is usually a person dancing wildly to the pulsing beat of their heart. These are not merely artists who are here to recreate. They are pathfinders and game-changers, here to open up the unexplored and widen our understanding of possibility itself.

18. Life requires us to expend energy. Be it relationships or careers, most things will have to be built and will be the result of how much we give to it.

19. What we covet is not always meant for us. Instead, if we focus on nurturing what we have, it will grow and lead us to the next right thing for us.

20. Living consciously in each moment is the only way to avoid comparison, disappointment, and bitterness.

21. While analyzing any situation, let us remember that logic is just a framework. Our hearts and voices enrich it and make it our own.

22. Love can be felt in the mind or throughout the body. While the former leads to love languages like gifts and acts of service, the latter leads to more physical affection and words of affirmation. We are allowed to feel it how we can in different spaces and with different people.

23. We will be misunderstood by most people. Changing someone’s mind about their opinion of us requires energy. Before explaining, defending, or justifying, let us practice asking ourselves, Why do I want to change this person’s mind?

24. We are each a gift in the palms of the right people. We must surround ourselves with these people because they need us and we need them.

25. Our journeys lead us to timely possés. It’s alright to forget some people for a while. We must remember the people who make our thoughts feel at home in our minds.

26. As we grow, we must practice gently letting go of people who are no longer in alignment with our truths. Keeping them around may be easier for our minds but damaging to our spirits.

27. If you feel alone in this world, read widely. Your community exists and is waiting to meet you.

28. We must learn to meet as many of our needs as we can on our own. This will show us just how capable we are and how deeply our needs can be met. We can then outsource some of these needs, emotiona,l and material. This will lessen our responsibilities and burdens and help us have genuine appreciation for those who meet these needs.

29. Love has homes in all of us. Let it in and out, feed it, protect it, listen to it. Our lives will be better when our beings are good homes to love.

About the author
Soumya writes about emotional intelligence and mental health. Follow Soumya on Instagram or read more articles from Soumya on Thought Catalog.

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