I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week -but when I was laying in bed the other night I was thinking about lessons I’ve learned in life. So many experiences I have had so far on my journey crossed my mind. Some lessons have been small or large, painful or humorous. But I have learned from them all. I got up out of bed, walked over to my desk, and wrote down “Lessons in Life” on my notepad so I wouldn’t forget this subject in the morning.
Lesson (noun): an amount of teaching given at one time. A period of learning or teaching. Instruct or teach someone of something.
Depending on how you view life you may see things that happen as a learning opportunity or think that everything that happens is just random, but in the end we all learn. Since it‘s my blog, I’ll spill my thoughts out on how I see life and the learning opportunities that were presented to me.
I believe we are here for a reason, and it is not accidental. I also believe that with everything I’ve experienced in life there is a reason why. My life has been filled with such oddities and coincidences that it would make your head spin. If things are not by coincidence or accident, then they are meant to happen. They are meant to be. If this is true, then there is structure and guidance in our life that helps navigate us from one place to another as we move forward. A roadmap of sorts. If things happen for a reason and not by accident, what would be the goal or result? I can only come up with the fact that we are here to learn. Experience both the good and bad, and learn from it.
What are we here to learn?
I will share some of the small lessons I have learned. Some painful and some quite funny.
I have either lost a laundry basket filled with clothes or had a shoe fly off my foot as I tumbled down a few steps. Because of this awkward, embarrassing and sometimes painful lesson, I have learned to take the stairs slower to hopefully prevent it from happening again.
Driving fast in lots of traffic is a recipe for disaster. I have seen too many accidents where someone stops and the person behind didn’t have enough time to stop – and well… you know, an accident occurs. Not only can it be life threatening, the hassle with insurance companies, rental cars, estimates, etc. is exhausting. It’s just not worth it. I’d rather just drive slower and safer.
I’ve been so impatient that I’ve taken a bite of hot food and realized it wasn’t just hot, but lava hot. I roll it around like a hot potato and hope it cools down before I swallow and burn my throat. If you’ve ever scorched the roof of your mouth or burned your tongue on something smoldering that came right out of the oven you’ll understand. I’ve learned to be more cautious and take a small test to see how hot something is before I shove a spoonful in my mouth.
Knowing when our little toe might catch a piece of furniture or other household fixture ahead of time is nearly impossible. I think this has got to be one of the most painful things we go through in life and to this day I am still trying to be watchful. It happens with random items in different locations so it isn’t something we can learn how to avoid. We just learn to expect the unexpected, say a few choice words, and hop around for a while.
Have you ever been gossiping about someone, and they heard you? Maybe you sent a text to the wrong person and realized it only after pushing send. One time I sent a chat message to my coworker letting her know my boss “was on one” which meant not in the best mood. Right after I sent it, I realized I sent it to my boss! I looked up from my desk into her office and her eyes met mine. She will never let me forget that day. Funny but not funny. We laugh about it now. I definitely double-check an email or text message to be sure I am sending it to the right person. I also learned to be careful with my words. Maybe gossiping about someone is the bigger lesson here. Maybe we should try to do better
When your cell phone rings and displays a number that you don’t recognize from an area where you don’t know anyone – Don’t answer. Chances are you’re going to find out that your car insurance is about to expire and it’s your last chance to renew. Besides not answering what have I learned? I’m definitely not going to miss anything…the message will still be on my voicemail!
I could go on with my small learning experiences, but I know that you have probably thought of your own to ponder now. The ones that taught you a safer way to move forward, and the ways you approach things differently now because you learned a small lesson.
The big lessons in life can be external (physical) as well as internal (thought provoking). Most often intertwined.
Relationships are important to us. Whether with a partner, friend, or family member, each relationship is unique and different. The way we interact with each individual depends on the depth and comfort of the relationship.
Relationships are like the ebb and flow of life. Some last for a short time, some for a lifetime. People come and go for a reason and sometimes a purpose. Life moves us along and at different times we need different things from each other. I value all my relationships. I only have a handful of close friendships, but I think if we are fortunate enough to have one good friend, that is a blessing. The lesson I’ve learned on relationships: Treasure them.
I was married and divorced once. Making the decision to divorce was very hard. I struggled because I knew I was breaking up a family. But I also knew I could not stay in a relationship where I was not being fulfilled and I wasn’t happy. We tried counseling, dates, etc. but nothing changed. As much as we tried, we had grown apart and we could not get on the same page. I am not for or against divorce, but I do believe we fundamentally need to be happy.
I know that if I don’t get married again then I won’t have to go through another divorce. It was not a fun experience, and it was extremely painful. I think my experience limited my openness and trust to find another partner.
Lesson: Give your relationship all you got and try to make it work. If you and your partner can’t make it work and you aren’t happy, I doubt they are either. It takes two.
Even with the knowledge that many of my family members were alcoholics and my father even warned me about how easy it was to get hooked, I didn’t think it would happen to me — until it did. I thought I could be just a social drinker, but the more I drank the more I wanted it until it consumed me. I had to get out of the vortex. What a tough lesson this one was!
Lesson: I am an alcoholic and an addict. I cannot drink or use drugs again or I will go back down that rabbit hole and be in a horrible place. I will lose everything I have regained in my life, and I probably won’t survive another time.
There was no handbook on the day I got each of my babies. The personality types of each of my children are as unique and different as their relationships are with me. Through the infant, child, and adolescent stages it was to learn as I go. There was purple hair, Mohawk, punk rock, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, parent conferences, before and afterschool care, doctors, dentists, school events, drill team, and the list goes on. I took parenting classes to try to do things right, but in the end, I still made lots of mistakes.
Lesson: Treasure your children. Time goes fast. Communicate and keep them close. Let them know they can come to you with anything, and you will help them to work it out. Allow them to grow and get out into the world even when it is scary at times. Our job is not to be their best friend but to help them grow into responsible adults.
Waiting to pay a gas bill so I can buy non-essential items isn’t the way I do things now. Years ago I used to laugh when I looked at my credit score and I’d say, “I am a slow pay but not a no pay.” Now I don’t laugh. I want good credit and I want to pay my bills on time because I’ve learned there are financial benefits.
Lesson: Pay my bills on time and my credit score improves. With a better credit score I can get better finance rates which saves me money.
I have worked since I was fifteen and I’ve had many types of jobs. Each job has been a learning experience where I have had the opportunity to learn and grow. The relationships I have with my coworkers, management and vendors is what aids me in either loving or hating my job. Because we spend a third of our life at work it’s important to find a job that we like and respect. It’s also important to have a good work-life balance. Work to live instead of live to work.
Lesson: Don’t stay at a job where there is no balance, you are unhappy and not valued. Find the job that makes you feel fulfilled. I have experienced a lot of internal growth and pride by pushing myself to be the best I can be. I want to be proud of the type of employee I am. That is important to me.
Sometimes we go through experiences that result in us having trust issues. How do we work through that?
- I was in a car accident years ago. I was at a light, and I remember looking through my rear-view mirror and saw a car come barreling towards me. She hit the back of my car and threw me into the car in front of me. My car was totaled. For months after the accident, I flinched every time I looked into my rear-view mirror. I didn’t trust that it wouldn’t happen again.
- When I got my divorce in 1993, I didn’t want to get married again. I put an invisible wall around myself to keep from getting hurt again. Sometimes our walls of protection can be a conscious or unconscious effort. In my case, I made a conscious effort to stay protected and save myself from the potential pain a relationship might bring. But I also didn’t allow myself to find a partner to share my life with. I didn’t want to try again because I didn’t trust there would be a different outcome.
I am still learning about invisible walls, tearing them down to try again. If we feel we are scared to do something because of an experience that hurt us, are we hurting ourselves? Missing out because of our fear and trust issues?
Thomas Jefferson said, “With great risk comes great reward.” We can use our lessons from our failures to make better future decisions.
With Every Lesson Learned There Is The Opportunity For:
- Internal Growth
- Becoming Wiser
- Clearer Direction
- Better Self-Awareness
I matter. I need to treat myself like I treat those I love. I need to be good inside to project good to the outside. Taking care of myself is important. Not just for me but for everyone I touch.
Low self esteem and lack of confidence takes its toll. Whether mine came from my childhood experiences, personal failures or the expectations of society, I wasn’t fully aware of my lack of confidence until I had some tough lessons to learn. That pushed me to the edge where I had to stand up for myself. I did not have to get acceptance from someone else to feel valued. I had to learn to accept myself, as I am. Whether I’ve lost weight, gained weight, or am having a tough time in my life. I am human. I am not perfect but perfect in my imperfections. I am unique. I am one-of-a-kind and I am an original. I need to honor that.
The Hamster Wheel
If I didn’t conquer a lesson or the learning objective, the same lesson would come back to me in different ways, repeatedly, until I mastered it and could get off the hamster wheel and move forward. The quicker I learned, the quicker I grew, and the quicker I could move on to something new.