Time flies by.
We get older. We watch those in our lives get older. People come in and out of our lives.
We have a front row seat to the miracle of new life as family and friends have children. We watch them grow up. We feel immense joy. We lose loved ones. We feel immense loss and grief. Some fear their own mortality. Some fear getting off the roller coaster that is life. Some live life in a cage of their own choosing. And some live life with the freedom of having their own wings.
One thing is a certainty: every year, we turn a year older. We live another year, circling the globe. And hopefully with each passing year, we grow wiser.
Fifty always seemed so far up the numerical scale. I mean, it’s on the downward scale to 100. It’s a half century. Is it old? I used to think so, but here I am now, and I have to tell you, those adverts for the over 55’s living need a new strategy and change in target audience, because 50 is not like it used to be, and I’m not sure whose living there, but it most definitely will not be me for many years to come. But I digress; this is not about retirement living, or that we age differently now. No, this is about something entirely different.
Arriving and working my way through my 50s is a gift. And it comes with something incredible. Something powerful. An honour. A privilege. Something to be grateful for. Something to cherish.
It comes with time. Time that I have lived. Time that I have loved. Time that I have f*cked up. Time that I have experienced. Time that I have learnt. And my have I learnt.
This is what time has taught me:
1. Not everyone who comes into your life is meant to stay. Not everyone is going to treat you well. Some will bring out the best in you, and some will bring out the worst in you. Some will love you. Some will hurt you. Some will teach you. And some will do all three. Some you will easily forget. Some will be impossible to forget. And some you will wish you could forget. But they were all meant to cross your path. What you choose to take from that is your choice.
2. Eating all the right food, taking your supplements, and exercising are important, but if you don’t do the inner emotional work and know how to manage your stress with healthy emotional regulation, your body will eventually be impacted. Negative emotions and feelings are normal; it’s what we do with them, how we unpack them, that will be critical for our future mental and physical health. Distraction, denial, and burying your pain is far more dangerous than a burger and chips.
3. The important job title, the big house, the fancy car, and the designer clothes are a means to try and fill our voids. We think the acquisition of material items, more money, and how we are financially perceived will bring us joy. It will make us better. We will look successful. The more we have, the happier we will be. The harsh truth is, nothing external can fill you internally. When you are gone, nobody will care about how much you earned, or what you had—they will care about how kind you were and how you made them feel. Look within, not outside.
4. We spend an insurmountable amount of wasted time chasing things. Always running after something in the hope that it fulfils us. We worship false ideals, believing these are what will make us fit in and bring us happiness because we are conditioned to think this way. We chase false goals because it’s what we think we are supposed to do. The day you wake up and realise all this chasing is futile and counterproductive is the day you finally start to really live.
5. You don’t have to live by society’s “rules.” You don’t have to work 60 hours a week and give your best years to a company that would replace you in an instant. You don’t have to get married and have kids if that’s not for you. You don’t have to be in a relationship. You don’t have to cut your long hair short and wear sensible shoes when you reach a certain age. You don’t have to stay with people or in places that are not conducive to happiness. You don’t have to live by a timeline. When you stand up and say, I’m living by my own rules, you realise how free you truly are.
6. Underneath anger and judgement is usually fear. People fear what they don’t understand. They judge those who are living a life they themselves are too scared to live, or a life that is outside their limited belief system. Fear manifests as anger because people have an underlying fear about something in their life. Choosing anger is sometimes easier than dealing with the feelings of fear and anxiety. When we look at a judgmental person as a scared person, our whole perception of them changes. Angry, judgmental people are scared people.
7. We waste so many years worrying about how we look. Are we overweight? Are we underweight? Do we have wrinkles? Grey hair? Cellulite? Stretch marks? Are our lips big enough? Does our ass look big in that? Are we hot? Sexy? Pretty enough? And the list goes on. It’s endless. It’s exhausting. Instead we should focus on: are we being authentic? Honest? Kind? Compassionate? Do we have good energy? In the end, what’s inside of us will always outweigh what’s on the outside.
8. Not everyone has the ability to grow and change. Not everyone learns from their mistakes, and not everyone wants to do the work to become a better version of themselves. Some people fall into bitterness and resentment when faced with painful challenges. Some people remain stuck, rooted in the same space for their entire lives. You can’t fix these people and you can only support them if they are willing to do the work. Some will never do the work.
9. If you don’t understand that we are energy and we attract the energy into our lives that we emit, you will struggle to find full inner joy. If we keep attracting the same kinds of toxic relationships, for example, we need to work on what’s lacking within us to draw those people to us. Always remember your energy enters the room before you do.
10. People will spend money on expensive clothes and jewelry. They will have facials, have their brows done, and get spray tans. Get their teeth whitened. Pay gym memberships. They will pay for massages, chiropractors, and physiotherapists. They will have subscriptions to Netflix, Spotify, and so on. They will go out to dinner, shout a round at the bar, or a million other things. Don’t get me wrong, all enjoyable and no doubt well deserved things, but what about spending money on therapy or coaching to support healing and growth? Most people will put everything else before their mental and emotional well-being. Time shows you how wrong that is.
11. We never “get over” our losses, our grief. We grow around it. It becomes smaller, but it’s always there. We grow through it and it changes who we are. Some people will dismiss our grief. Some will minimise it and others will expect us to just stop grieving. Some will assume their experience is our experience. Some will invalidate our pain with their ignorant words. Time teaches us that people can only ever meet us from their level, and understanding that will save us more pain.
12. Perception isn’t reality. We all perceive things differently, and whilst perception may be our truth, it isn’t necessarily the truth. When we see things in a particular way, read things in a particular way, and even hear things, it is through our lens. And our lens is fogged up with our beliefs, our past, and our experiences. When we understand that the way we believe something to be is from our own personal perspective, we can start to understand ourselves more deeply.
13. Self-awareness is not an attribute that everyone has. The more self-aware you are, the more you understand yourself and your triggers. The more responsibility you take for your emotional regulation and behaviour. The more willing you are to learn, change, and grow. The less self-aware you are, the more you blame others. The more your insecurities masquerade as ego. The more you hide behind a mask. The less likely you are to be courageously vulnerable to see your truth.
14. We never love in the same way twice. In each relationship we have, we will feel love, passion, chemistry, and energy differently. It doesn’t mean that one is more than the other, it’s just different. These different loves with all their beauty, ugliness, magic, and pain will teach us about ourselves, if we let them. We can swim to shore exhausted and perhaps battered but with a life raft of learnings, or we can struggle to tread water and let the sharks of bitterness and resentment swallow us alive. Time has taught me that if we let things destroy us, they will.
15. We can choose. We can choose what’s important to us. How we want to live. How we want to behave. The impact we want to have on those in our lives. We can’t choose how others behave, but we can choose the behaviour we will accept. We can’t choose the hurdles life will throw at us, but we can choose how we react to them. We can choose to have boundaries. We can choose to see our truth, speak our truth, and live our truth, or we can live a life pretending to be someone we’re not. We always have a choice.
16. Letting go is one of the most difficult things you will face. Physically letting go. Emotionally letting go. And energetically letting go. All different and require a different process. Letting go without real closure. Letting go without an apology. Letting go when you still love and care. We tend to want to hang on and grip so tightly to the past. To who we thought someone was. To how a relationship used to be. We hang on because letting go is terrifying. It’s final. It’s acknowledging the end. But if we don’t fully let go of the person, the anger, the fear, the promises, the situation, we can never fully move forward.
17. When you face loss and pain, you will see who is in your corner. Who cares enough to scrape you off the floor. Who is just there, whether you asked them to be or not. Who shows up for you in every way, knowing that right now you’re the messiest version of yourself. Time will teach you who your true friends are and who deserves to be in your life, because if they’re not willing to be there at your worst, they do not deserve you at your best.
18. Vulnerability is underrated. It’s confused as being weak. People fear being vulnerable due to how they will be perceived. Vulnerability should be respected and appreciated. There is nothing more true, more honest, and more raw than a person being courageously vulnerable. Real trust is built in vulnerability.
19. Secrets will slowly kill you. People keep secrets for all sorts of reasons. But the secrets that impact others are the ones that need to be told. When secrets are buried, it’s like packing a leaky bottle of poison inside yourself that slowly seeps through your body. You can’t live an authentic life, hiding things. As the saying goes, three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
20. People’s belief in you should not be as important as the belief you have in yourself. Their respect of you should not be more important than your self-respect. And your need for love should start with loving yourself. We put so much energy and anxiety in how others see us, how they judge us, and how they feel about us but little energy into how we truly feel about ourselves. Self-fulfilment, belief, respect, and love will attract these things to you. Time teaches us that is all starts within ourselves.
21. Our idea of positivity is destroying us. The push to always be positive and not be seen as negative is toxic. It’s unrealistic and unsustainable. All emotions are valid, and if we are only allowed to show the positive ones, we are hiding parts of ourselves. Those who encourage positivity at all costs are simply too scared to be honest and authentic. Time will show you that this is one of the biggest lies we are taught.
22. We all lie. And the biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. We lie because we fear the truth. We lie because we fear judgement. We lie because we fear the change that seeing, listening, telling, or believing the truth will bring. Time will show you that living a lie is the greatest disservice you’ll ever do to yourself.
23. Gratitude and greed are two of the most powerful things. One will see you fulfilled and appreciative for even the smallest things in your life. The other will have you running after every possible dollar, striving to have something bigger and better than your friend, colleague, neighbour. Wanting more, always wanting more, and never being satisfied. Never grateful for what you have. Empty and miserable. Choose your power wisely.
24. You will follow your head, your heart, or your soul throughout your life. But only one of these will lead you to your truth. Only one of these will lead you to the deepest depths of your desire. Only one of these will lead you to the life you were destined to live. There are times you need to follow the logic of your head. There are times you need to follow the love of your heart. But when the time comes to follow the truth of who you are, you will want a front row seat to your soul.
It’s true, time is our greatest teacher. If we choose to listen to her, we can experience an abyss of truth, healing, change, and growth. Our formative years at school and growing from a child to an adult are huge developmental stages of learning, change, and growth, but I have learnt there is nothing as epic, nothing that will move you to your core, like the teachings of time.
Parents, school, and society will teach you the basics of integrating into mainstream life. But time, oh time, if you allow her, if you listen, if you’re willing to dig deep and hear your truth, will teach you the veracity of who you are.
I love that time has taught me to appreciate myself. My wrinkles. My cellulite. My changing body. Time is a precious gift that comes with age. And the older I have gotten, the more open, self-aware, and free I have become. The more I see challenges as a means to growth, and the more I see change as the ability to go within and heal more.
Time rewards you with a confidence that is often lacking when you’re younger. Your eyesight may deteriorate, but your vision, your clarity, is so much sharper. Time will not heal you, but if you see time as the magical and beautiful offering that it is, and use it to become curious about yourself and your life, then you have the opportunity to really heal and grow. You have the opportunity to rip the masks off. Strip the bullsh*t away. Remove the layers of conditioning and limiting beliefs. See your truth and live your truth.
Time has taught me that I am as free as I choose to be. That richness comes from gratitude—when you are grateful for what you have, you always feel rich. That if my ego shows her face, I’m feeling insecure and need to address that. That happiness is an inside job. That connection comes from many different places. And that I’m only as old as I perceive myself to be. We can concern ourselves with the numbers and physicality of ageing, or we can spread our wings and fly.
Flaunting my 50s, because why not? Flaunting my 50s, because I can. Flaunting my 50s, because I’ve arrived at a pretty damn good destination.