wellness

'Pay attention to your jealousy.' The 13 lessons I learned the hard way by 31.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Bupa

No matter how old I am, I will always underestimate how early I need to get ready by approximately 30 minutes.

I will also always assume that the journey between where I am now and where I need to be involves no traffic, no parking issues, and no time between getting out of the car and arriving at my destination. It is why I am never on time and usually show up sweaty. 

I will always overestimate my motivation and productivity and downplay my penchant for procrastination, which means most things are done in a rush and aren't to the standard I truly believe I'm capable of. It's a reality that hurts my soul.

However.

In my 31 years of life, I've learned a few genuinely wise lessons that are worth sharing. They're lessons I've learned the hard way – stranded on a main road with no petrol, staring at my angry skin after going too hard with new skincare, checking into a hotel where the reception has bullet-proof glass - and I want to share them. Perhaps they'll save you having to learn them first-hand, but by writing them down, hopefully I don't forget them either. 

Ahem. 

Don't dye your hair at home – you'll look like Draco Malfoy.

This is literal and metaphorical. Trust the experts (and you are not an expert). Nothing is ever so urgent that you must do it yourself, at home, badly. It will ultimately take up more of your time and money. 

You really will look like Draco Malfoy if you dye your hair yourself. It's something about the roots going a little bit orange. Go to the hairdresser and be clear about what you want. And if they make you look like Draco Malfoy, ask them to fix it. Please.

You're not good at everything. But you're not bad at everything, either.

You enjoy watching musicals, but you should never be IN a musical. You can't sing or dance and you'll keep losing the folder that has all the lyrics and the teacher will get very frustrated.

But it's okay to be bad at some things. You'll be good at others, I promise. 

Listen to your jealousy.

Jealousy is an uncomfortable feeling, and it's tempting to beat yourself up when you feel it. 

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Try to pay attention to what makes you jealous. What is it telling you? Is it a sign that you're dissatisfied with the path you're currently on? That you should try something new? Or is it fleeting and temporary?

If a baby is crying, start moving.

There's something about securely holding a baby on your hip and bobbing up and down that seems to... help. Especially if you make up a song while you do it. And pull funny faces.

Maybe it just confuses the baby so much they have to pause to work out what the hell you're doing. But the entertainment (and the movement) provides a moment of quiet.  

You're allowed to quit.  

Do. Not. Be. A. Martyr. 

If you hate what you're doing, and you have a choice in the matter, quit. No one wants you to resent the life you build. Precisely no one ever asked you to be miserable. 

Whether it's a job or a university course or a toxic friendship, you're allowed to quit it. I give you permission. 

Just make sure you make a habit of trying your best. And if it's still unsatisfying – quit. 

The car will always need petrol. And being stuck in the middle of a main road with an empty tank is really inconvenient.

I know you think a fairy will come and fill up the car for you when no one's looking. Or petrol prices will magically drop by 50 per cent overnight. 

Neither of those things are going to happen. 

Please fill up the car when you notice the tank getting low, or at the very least when you first see the warning light go off. 

There's nothing more shameful than running out of petrol on a main road, and having to explain it to the angry people around you. And then having to call a friend to fill up a jerry can and meet you. It's highly unnecessary. 

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Always sleep on the angry email. Especially when you don't want to.

I know you want to send it. You want them to recognise your fierce emotions. Your feelings are valid and it would be nice for them to be someone else's problem.

But please sleep on it. If you still want to send it in the morning, do it. 

You probably won't. And that's how you'll know you did the right thing. 

Mum was right. There really is food at home. 

Well, sometimes there isn't because you haven't been to the supermarket for a while. But there should be. Because it saves you a lot of money and while it's exciting to buy food while you're out, the toast at home is absolutely fine. 

Speaking of Mum - she's right about a lot of things. Image: Supplied.

Don't wait.

For a lot of us, the energy of life shifts in your 30s. Sickness. Tragedy. Losing loved ones. 

There's the other side of the coin, too. Love. Growth. Building new families, whatever they look like. 

You'll learn time and time again that nothing is guaranteed, and there's no use waiting for a moment that might never come. 

As my colleague Leigh Campbell says, light the good candle. Go on the holiday. Hug your loved ones. 

That goes for life decisions, too. Get private health insurance – don't wait until you 'need' it. Despite feeling like you're invincible, you can't control when life gets the best of you. 

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In the spirit of 'why wait?', Bupa are offering customers to get up to 8 weeks free and have their 2 and 6 month waiting periods waived on Extras when they join Bupa on Eligible products by June 30 (terms and conditions apply ofc). Your future self will thank you. 

Your mistakes will be painfully humiliating. They'll also be funny.

Not knowing how to dress for work in a 'real' office.

Fudging your way through that task you said you were far more qualified for than you actually are.

Interviewing a celebrity and asking a very bad question that you'll never ask again. 

Your mistakes will feel horrible at the time, but they make for great stories. And sharing them allows other people to feel comfortable sharing theirs, too. 

Ask for recommendations, and listen to them.

The people around you have a wealth of knowledge you can't even imagine. 

If you don't know what book to pick up next, or what TV show to watch, or what washing powder is best, or where to stay on your next holiday, ask the people whose opinion you trust. 

There's no use having to learn lessons yourself that you could learn from others. 

That's how you end up checking into a scary hotel in San Francisco, and staying for five minutes before swallowing your pride and never returning again. 

Don't put skincare near your eyes – it gives you dermatitis.

Yes, every time. This is a quirk of yours that doesn't go away. 

People like you when you're vulnerable. 

Don't go to dinner and brag. It's not fun for anyone else. When you meet new people, be honest, and create a space for them to be honest too. 

No one wants a conversation that feels like a competition for who's winning at life. No one's winning. We're all just doing our best and probably feeling like it's not good enough. 

Finally, share your wisdom. I want to know what you've learned the hard way, and if any of my lessons are actually profoundly unhelpful. 

Also, I'm yet to learn how to wash my nice clothes without ruining them. Any advice would be appreciated. 

What lessons have you learned the hard way? Leave a comment below!

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Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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