Wednesday, 4 April 2012

30 Survival Tips for the Modern Day Gal, or, ‘Advice to My Younger Self’

Image thanks to martina

"It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past."  
Austin Kleon

Life is tough. Somehow they forgot to prepare you for that when they were convincing you Pythagoras’ theorem would come in handy. It hasn’t.

I don’t profess to be a guru in life-living, but I’ve survived so far. I’ve survived heartbreak and sour friendship and overseas adventures and language barriers and family hardships and the education system – and doing all that without forgetting to dress up and have fun every now and again. I look on that as rather an achievement.

So, without further ado, 30 survival tips for modern living. 30 tips to myself. In the past, and for the future.

1. Everything passes. This is the one thing you can trust in when you can’t trust in anything else.
2. Love doesn’t just hurt, it’s tortuous. And it will make sure it throws you into ecstasy before sneaking up behind you, clubbing you over the head, and rubbing your face in the dirt with it’s foot. Love is sneaky like that.
3. ...but never close yourself to it, because you can withstand more than you think you can, and for the right person it’ll be worth it.
4. ...and love hard, because it is a blissful torture, and you’ll have few opportunities.
5. The ‘right person’ might be a myth. Sorry about that. But there’ll be a whole crowd of nearly-right people. Invest in one of them, and realise that the investment is where the magic is.
6. Life is rife with contradiction. Accept that now and you’ll enjoy things a lot more.
7. You need people. It’s okay to admit that.
8. ...but prepare for those people not to be the ones you expected to need.
9. ...and learn to be alone, because sometimes those people won’t be around. Remember that if we don’t teach ourselves to be alone, we will only know how to be lonely.
10. Learn to apologise, and to forgive. All progress stems from this.
11. Prepare to have your mind changed, over and over and over again.
12. Your grandma was right about everything.
13. Your parents were right about most things.
14. You weren’t right about much.
15. Travel will heal your soul, and introduce you to major parts of yourself that you haven’t met yet.
16. Celebrate every chance you get, because it’s why you’re here.
17. Find your mentors. Teachers. Idols. Whatever you want to call them – people to learn from, and look up to. I say ‘people’ rather than just one person because I think it is unwise – and unfair to yourself - to expect to learn all you need to from one person. Choose a few mentors for your career, a few for your style, a few for how you want your relationships to be. They can be people you know: friends, family members – or people you don’t know: celebrities, authors, bloggers.
18. Stop just reacting. Sometimes I feel myself poised in this empty void just waiting to react to the next thing – the next email, phone call, deadline, place to be, person to see. This is so not the way to go about life. Start acting. Start asking questions.
19. ...and make sure you’re asking the right questions – be sure that they are your own. Life is basically a series of questions being asked and answered. What do I want to be? I’ll be this. Who do I want to love? I’ll love this person.
20. Meditate on Bliss. Sit and feel out all the parameters of your potential for joy.
21. Zoom Out. Sometimes, marred by the minutiae of day to day existence – participating only in the tiny pixels of our bigger picture – we fail to see the grandeur of the life we are illustrating for ourselves. It is important to visualise your life in its whole state.
22. ...and live in the moment. I am terrible for not doing this – one facet to being ambitious and goal-orientated is that you are perpetually living in the future and never appreciating what you have right now. Imagine that you were suddenly plonked into the life you have now from another – see it as a whole life in its own right that isn’t missing anything, and live it for what it is.
23. Whatever happens: rejections, dejections, deaths, disasters... Repeat after me: still, you go on. Be comforted by that fact alone; that your cogs keep turning even when each turn breaks your heart a little more.
24. Take every catastrophe as a catalyst for change and even more excitement.
25. It is only by being unapologetically yourself that you will attract the people who don’t ask you to apologise.
26. There will come a point, if it hasn’t come all ready, where you realise learning is fun. I know. When it does, make like a sponge and gather up all the information you can.
27. ...and you should read books. Lots of them. Not the boring ones you read at school. There are ones that will feel like you are reading the narrative of your own imagination. Ones about sex. Ones with passages and entire chapters that will honestly change your life. Go and find them.
28. Go to the place you need to go to feel alive. I think you already know where that is. If you don’t, start saving for a round-the-world ticket and find out.
29. Do the thing you need to do to feel alive, and do it as much as possible. I also suspect you already know what that is. If you don’t, start doing one of those self-help-book-exercises you always overlook, every day. There is a distinct possibility these might open up a conversation between you and your inner-self, and your inner-self knows what’s up. Books to start with might be The Artist’s Way or The Fire Starter Sessions.
30. We are called human beings, not human doings. Try just being.

What advice would you give your younger self?


Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Partners are everywhere-loads of people to love and invest in will come thru your life. Be with and learn from as many as you can.

hope in high heels said...

Hear, hear and amen. This is an amazing list - I nodded the whole way down it. Then got to the end and found myself wondering how you got so wise, so early.

We must catch up when you're next in NYC - am excited to hear you'll be back for so long - the East Village is a fabulous place to park yourself!

Elimy said...

Excellent list.

finntje said...

I really love that last one. This is such a great post, I'll have to mull over a few tips of my own...

Alice said...

I love the last three, thanks for this Megan! Was definitely an eye opener, I may have to write some down and post them to my older self in ten years time to make sure I'm still on track!

Amber-Rose Thomas said...

Okay, I love two main things about this post.
1 - The posing girl in the picture with a globe. More of my photos need globes in them. <3

2 - "The ‘right person’ might be a myth. Sorry about that. But there’ll be a whole crowd of nearly-right people. Invest in one of them, and realise that the investment is where the magic is."
I think the only reason we believe that the 'right one' doesn't really exist, is because of that little 'The One' myth. Me must not confuse the two.
Finding 'The One' implies that out of the whole wide world only one other person is actually suitable for us. Where as finding 'The Right One' just means the we've found one of the many people who we're compatible with. So don't worry Megan - you'll find 'The Right One', and not just someone that's 'nearly-right'. As will we all, haha!

LauraCassidy said...

Love this!

Eternal*Voyageur said...

I love this post so much, especially no.30!

PelirrojaBiu said...

Loving all 30 of them, thanks!!! Hope you're having a lovely Easter.

Anonymous said...

Thanku this list I have just read is helping when think of things more logically as I havnt been myself lately everything and every1 around me seem to b negative xx

C. Hayes said...

I love this list. so much. so very much. May I save it to print?? Please?? #28 and 29 are my faves!


ps-Thank God I found your blog again after years of being separated!

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