There are certain life lessons that only experience can teach you. It’s what makes us better at things, more prepared and more interesting people to be around. As children, we have to learn lessons by falling off, making mistakes, and coping with a few bruises. But as we get older the lessons aren’t as easy or as simple as learning how to ride a bike or not to touch a hot pan. I wanted to share a few lessons that I’ve had to learn the hard way, and yet have made the biggest difference in my life. But ultimately, these lessons are what shape you as a person and encourage you to grow in new directions. Check out the full details below!
These lessons vary in “size” but are all equal in impact. They’ve shaped my relationships not only with my self but the relationships I have with those around me.
This certainly isn’t a complete list of all the important lessons, but rather those which I have noticed the most significant impact from and what I still thank myself for learning every day. Perhaps you’ll find some relatable, perhaps not at all, but each still has it’s own worthiness in my limited experience on earth anyway.
Constant Bloating ISN’T Normal:
For a long time, I’ve played the “is this bloating or am I just gaining weight?” game with myself. It’s a nasty spiral and can be very misleading. In my personal experience, I found bloating to be a significant source of low self-confidence.
Eventually, I noticed that it was actually from not drinking enough water throughout the day. By starving myself of good hydration, my body was being forced into survival mode and therefore retained as much water as possible. The bloating was actually “water weight”. Now I know that if I drink regularly, with small sips throughout the day and aim for approximately 2 - 3 litres, the bloating doesn’t occur.
However, if you are a great water drinker (go you!) and you’re still experiencing bloating, begin to keep a food diary recording what you eat and how you feel. You may find that it occurs after certain foods which may point to an intolerance. Otherwise, discuss it with your doctor.
Don’t sit on something as frustrating as bloating, especially when it can have such a negative impact on your mental health and confidence! You may find it has a simple solution.
You don’t have to live with terrible period pain:
Ever since my period started, I felt like overwhelming period pain which consistently arrived every month was just part of the process. I began to dread my period, it impacted everything from my mood, to my skin, my energy levels, and the pain was so overwhelming and often unpredictable.
Years later, I was seeing a Chinese acupuncture specialist for my migraine issues, she said that she’s never had period pain. Fascinated, I asked why. “Well it’s just not normal, you’re not supposed to," she said in reply. She recommended me to a gynaecologist, who subsequently diagnosed me with endometriosis. Since having laparoscopic surgery, and the insertion of a Mirena my symptoms have improved significantly. While I’m still not pain-free every time, my periods have dramatically improved.
The point is, living with pain deserves to be discussed. We can’t just assume that those are the cards we’ve been dealt and we just have to live with it. We live in an age where we have learnt so much about the body and we have the research to find fantastic solutions to reduce pain. It’s important to have discussions with your doctors about things, even if you feel like there may not be an immediate solution - just having the discussion is the first essential step.
Friendships can be seasonal, lifelong, or an important lesson:
During high school, I had a best friend. She was my ride-or-die. We experienced so many different things together that our friendship became seemingly irreplaceable. No one knew me as she did - and she was around during such a developmental stage of my life that we truly grew together. However, we both knew that our friendship would end at the conclusion of high school - that’s just how it was. We’d always move our separate ways, and I always knew we’d never speak again. When that time finally came, that’s exactly how it played out. We left for different universities and never spoke again.
Some friendships come with an expiry date and thank god for that. I learnt so many lessons with her, about myself, about who I truly want to become, about relationships, but most importantly about the type of people I want to be around. I needed her back then, to learn all those lessons with, to push my boundaries with, and bring me outside my comfort zone. But for me to grow more as an individual, I need to do those things on my own now - truly for myself.
This year, a major focus of mine has been on longterm female friendships - developing lifelong friends, who you can get through everything with, who you know don’t have an expiry. It’s involved getting back in contact with old friends who I love, pushing myself to say hello to someone new, and making plans to catch up with those new people so you can develop friendships and shared memories.
While I’m grateful for the memories and the times my best friend and I shared, I’m no longer sad that things ended as they did. I have learnt more about myself, true friendships, and how to make new friends over the past 2 years than I have EVER.
I’ve learnt that not all friendships are perfect, effortless, and long-lasting. You need a few toxic friends and short-lived friendships to give you the appreciation for when good friends come around.
Take everything as a learning experience, let go of expired friendships, and always be willing to expand your circle and let new people in. No one has ever complained about having too many friends.
When a friendship ends, reflect on what you learnt, thank them for the lessons, and let go. Sometimes it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.
You have to be your own life partner first:
As a young girl, I felt like I was always searching for my prince charming. I felt like I wouldn’t be complete until I had a partner by my side to experience life with. For years, I dedicated far too much emotional and mental energy to relationships. I was too busy trying to be someone’s girlfriend that I didn’t yet know how to be myself.
At the end of the day, you have to be your own life partner first. You have to learn how to pick yourself up at the end of a hard day and tell yourself that things are going to be okay. There are going to be times where you’re all you have. And there is no better time than now to learn how to be okay with that.
Spend time with yourself, get to know yourself, as if you’re speaking to a stranger. Brainstorm and visualise the life you want to have, and the person you want to be even without a boyfriend/girlfriend beside you. Eventually, if you find someone who wants a similar life that’s amazing. But you can never steer yourself wrong in the meantime by going for what you truly want for yourself.
It’s so important to learn how to be alone with yourself. Some people are terrified of the silence, of the noise of their thoughts. It forces them to face their biggest fears, to ask for help with their deepest issues, without the ability to seek approval or attention from anyone else.
I swear to god, therapy is the most underrated experience. If you see fit, speak to your doctor about meeting with a counsellor, therapist, or psychologist. I have learnt more helpful techniques, strategies, and lessons from having sessions with a psychologist than I could learn for myself in a lifetime. I’ve learnt how to self-soothe my anxiety, ground myself, and work through my feelings - whereas if I was in a relationship I would simply turn to the other person and try to get them to fix it. If you find yourself constantly seeking the attention of others, ask yourself, what do I truly need for myself, what gap am I trying to fill here?
You have to be your best self before you can give of yourself to someone else. As the flight attendants always say, “put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others.” Our younger years are the only times in our entire life that we’re solely responsible for ourselves. We have years ahead of looking after others, putting your kids' needs first, etc. Spend this time getting to know yourself, be your own best friend, and fight your own battles before supporting or relying on anyone else.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this more personal blog post style. While nothing beats your own experiences, I think we can learn a lot from other people's life lessons and journeys. The most important messages here include voicing your discomforts and acknowledging that you deserve better. At the end of the day, you have to fight for your wellbeing first. No one will fight your battles for you, or as well as you can. Fulfil your potential as an individual first.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with me down below in the comment section!
From our home to yours,
Hi there! Thanks for checking out the Live Lively blog. I am so excited to share my passion for productivity, personal growth and wellbeing!