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Lessons in Life and Love

Lessons I Learned in My 20s

Photo by Jessica Lake

Falling in love was always such a foreign concept to me. Having an absent father and probably a few daddy issues for a long time, I never really had or knew love from the male orientation. I would always gravitate towards men who simply weren’t right for me in mind and spirit or who, let’s face it, were complete scum bags. It took a lot of soul searching to realize I was making these mistakes. Yes, I was making the choice to date these types of men and let them into my life. It was a choice and it always was. At the time, I didn’t realize it and I kept asking myself the damming questions of life like, "Why me?? Why am I being treated like this?? What did I do to deserve this?? Why can’t I just fall in love, get married and have a happy family?" The truth is I did nothing to deserve it, but I did need some cold hard lessons to wake me up.

Firstly, I was under the impression that the key to life’s happiness was to get married and have the perfect happy family. I felt like somehow if I didn’t have that, then happiness wasn’t attainable, or my life wasn’t fulfilled or complete. I read an article recently written by a fellow female who seemed, by the sounds of things, to be a new and high strung out Mother. She was ranting and verbally bashing a generation of women who seemed to be younger than she who are successful in their careers, feel confident in their life choices and are self-fulfilled by their accomplishments. Basically, the article said that your life will never be fulfilled unless you have children. Now look don’t get me wrong, as a woman I believe having a child is one of the most miraculous things we can do, to create a life with our bodies. However, we are SO much more than that as well. Not every woman will have a child or be capable to do so and I want to tell you that most of your lives are long. Longer than you can imagine, there is so much time to accomplish whatever you want to do and there is nothing wrong with doing so and feeling pride in doing so. Some women are dedicated enough to be able to do both. Personally, I have always had many different goals. For a long time I thought these were not attainable because they were all so different. The older I get, the more I realize that anything is possible if you believe you can accomplish it. The number one rule is, that you have to believe in yourself because no one else is going to believe in you. Don’t look around for approval because you aren’t going to get it and it's only going to slow you down. Just stick your head down and work for those goals!

Secondly, you need to be completely aware of the choices you are making around letting certain people of any gender and from any which way into your life. You do not deserve to be treated with disrespect of any kind or negative flavour from anyone whether that be a friend, a colleague, a partner, a one-night stand or someone in your family. You need to make conscious choices as to who you are going to have in your life. It’s not an easy process, it can be difficult to block some people out especially if they are family and you desperately want them to be the father you have always wanted, for example. The realisation I came to a few years ago was that my growth as a human being and the person I wanted to become was stunted because of the toxic relationships, and soul-sucking human beings I had around me. I had to clean shop and it was a process, let me tell you, but my gut knew with all its gutsiness that this was something that I needed in order to survive and thrive. So, the questions of, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" were answered quite simply. I let these people into my life, and I let them abuse the person I was. Since making these changes and not letting these people in, my life has changed dramatically! I am so drama free it’s incredibly empowering and awakening.

Thirdly, letting love into your life when you haven’t been given much love or have been deprived of love from a certain majority is not easy. When I look back on my 20s which were basically all years of single me sluzzing it up and partying way too much, I realise the choices I made were due to the lack of love or presence of a father figure I had as a child. I was craving that love and attention from men so deeply that I misunderstood their sexual attraction for me as what I was searching for. I made mistake after mistake and then made the same mistakes ten times again. But if you ask me, that’s what your 20s are for, making mistakes and finding yourself as an adult. I really believe that if you are able to dissect your life in this way, then you can truly understand yourself, your flaws and learn to live a better life for yourself. 

Then you can find room for love. I found my first love on Tinder of all places. I had just ended a cycle of bad flings with guys that I had made the same mistake with too many times. It was an odd experience, as I remember the week before I met him I made a conscious decision that I was going to open myself up to love and it was almost like something changed inside of me. It’s hard to explain the feeling, but I felt like something clicked. My best friend had just gotten married the weekend before our first date to her childhood sweetheart, so love was in the air. I wasn’t quite sure before going on the date if I liked him yet, but the banter was good, he seemed like a decent guy and I needed to try something different. He took me out for dinner and when I walked up to the bar and saw him there, there was just something about him. We had a great dinner, then went for some drinks after and the conversation continued for hours. At some point in the night, I remember looking over at him and thinking to myself, “that’s my human.” I knew that first night that he was the one for me. I never really knew if I believed in love at first sight before and I guess it wasn’t really first sight as it was a few hours, a bottle of wine and at least a bottle of Wild Turkey American Honey, but on our first night meeting each other I knew. The love we share is deep, strong and he is everything I have ever wanted and more. Once you find that right person though, the biggest mistake you can make is to think that a relationship should be easy. Relationships are not easy, because life is not easy. When people say, “love should be easy,” what they mean is the person shouldn’t emotionally bash you and make you cry all the time. Relationships are hard work, but if you find the right person and you are willing to work together, then it’s all worth it.

A lesson my amazing partner always keeps reminding me of, I would like to pass onto you—the number one rule in love is that you always need to be number one to yourself. Your partner comes second. If you aren’t looking after yourself first, then you are no good to anyone else. I’m not telling you to be selfish in your relationship, no one likes a selfish person so you need to find the balance.

I hope the lessons I have learned help you to find more of yourself and find a love of your own that’s true and passionate even in its darkest days because you only deserve the best. Just remember, if it's not happening don't get frustrated. Keep in mind that timing is everything, just enjoy the journey and the lessons along the way. 

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