For as long as I can remember, I have been a creature of habit. There have been the occasional moments of spontaneity (usually fueled by my friends) that have left me feeling exhilarated, but for the most part I like routine. Routine keeps me feeling safe. While boring, there is no fear of danger with routine. I always know what to expect.

As I just turned thirty this weekend, I have been thinking a lot about my life, what I like about it and what I don’t. For the past 15 some odd years I have struggled in the wakes of an eating disorder and, later, depression. Both of these have held me back, sometimes in significant ways. In other ways, they have shaped me to the person I am today, and taught me priceless life lessons.

So what lessons have I learned so far?

1. Sometimes you have to be a little uncomfortable to reach success
– This was most applicable while training for my first marathon. There were so many times that fall where I just wanted to quit. Twenty miles alone? You mean I can’t go out drinking on Friday night? What is this! But it paid off, with a fun marathon and a new hobby.
– This can also be applied to every new job I have ever started, every time I have taken a leap, and moving from Boston to Baltimore without a friend to be found.

2. Toxic people and activities will never add to you life
– I have lost many friends over the years, some for the better, others for the worse. I have both been a victim of toxic people, and have been one myself. What’s important is to recognize those people and activities that don’t add to you, and subtract them. You will thank yourself later

3. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others
– A nurse turned nurse practitioner, I can’t help my patients well if I am not helping myself. I cannot give them my full 100% if I am not well. Same goes for relationships and family.
– The best thing I have done over the last 15 years is finally succumb to the fact that I need an antidepressant. I come from a long line of depressed family members. Say “yes” to the prozac. It makes life easier.

4. Cherish the people you have in your life
– This is a lesson that is still evolving, as I struggle to accept myself first. It is incredibly important never to forget those with who you have created those life bonds.

5. If what you are doing isn’t making you happy, then change it.
– I am learning I have the power to change my life in order to reach a desired outcome.

How do I wish to continue to apply these lessons? How do I wish to further my life?

1. Continue to try new things and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone
– I plan on taking a swimming class so I can learn to swim laps (I have been meaning to do this for years)- Hold me accountable
– Don’t be afraid to say yes to new plans, even if its out of your idea of comfortable life

2. Tone down the alcohol, by a lot.
– As a child of an alcoholic, it is easy for me to justify a weekend of alcohol infused activities. That’s what people do! But it is time for me to find activities that I enjoy, that don’t involve drinking myself into oblivion. It’s the only way to find meaningful relationships in this world. Also, blackouts are NOT sexy.

3. Live well
– Mentally and physically. I need to feed my body and my mind. Exercise, get outside everyday, BREATHE.

4. Make time for people I care about. Every damn day.
– I will strive to make time for those I love, even if it’s just a phone call. This will likely be the hardest thing that I have promised myself. I have always been known to be horrible at keeping in touch.

I have a lot of work to do in the years to come. Looking forward, I need to decide how I want to spend my time on earth. Am I really going to care if I finished Game of Thrones? No, not really. So it’s time for me to sit down and think about where I want to be in 10, 20, 30 years.

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