Looking back at the many things I’ve endured in the short amount of my 25 years on this planet, I’ve learned so many valuable things that have helped shape me into the person that I am today.
I hope you’ll take a moment to think about some of these things as they’ve really made a big difference to my life in more ways than one.
Love, Caroline x
1. It’s okay to be vulnerable and show emotions.
I’ve always been an emotional person and I’ve never had a problem with ‘feeling’ everything. However, I was always bad at showing other people how I felt or letting my guards down. To me, this was a sign of weakness. I think, a lot of this has to do with my parents splitting up when I was only 9. It forces you to grow up extremely quickly and in that process I think I became too tough for my own good.
It took me going through cancer and heartbreak to realise that it is okay to be vulnerable and show it. I’ve now realised that a part of growing up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.
2. Not everyone you meet is supposed to stay in your life – lovers or friends.
I used to damn this. I couldn’t understand why ‘the universe’ would let someone into my life only for them to not remain there for the rest of my time? What was the point?
Well, the point is like the saying goes: “Some will test you, some will use you, some will love you, and some will teach you. But the ones who are truly important will stay and bring out the best in you.”
I’ve come to terms with we’re all little puzzles-pieces in a master puzzle – each little brick plays a role in your life and our responsibility is to learn from this and appreciate the time we had with these people when they mattered the most to us.
3. You may lose the one(s) you love, but the memories will never leave you.
Heartbreak – the single-handedly most awful feeling in this world, right? I used to not be able to even have space for these feelings inside of me. The hurt was just too much, and I would do anything to avoid these feelings or sitting with them. The thought of losing someone, but even worse, the thought of losing the memories you once created together was simply too painful. But you know what? You move through these feelings, and the memories won’t disappear. They won’t be tragic or bring you to tears any longer, either, they’ll just be there as a gentle reminder that you once had something really beautiful with someone you can now look back at and smile with a radiating warmth from your heart and be grateful you got to experience.
4. You and only YOU are in charge of your happiness.
When I was younger I always relied on other people to keep me happy. Whether it was my parents, my sister, my friends or my boyfriend – as long as I wasn’t in charge of it myself. Growing up, and most recently, I’ve really discovered that you can never ever put the burden on other people’s shoulders to keep you happy. It is your OWN task and no one else. Expecting other people to create your own happiness is like trying to fix a broken tyre with duck tape – it will always burst and will never last the distance. Pursue your own true happiness, and I promise you that your life will improve a million times and in ways you never imagined.
5. Accepting that you need help is not a defeat.
When I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 22 I didn’t tell a soul for the first month. Not even my parents. I was determined that this was something I could do on my own. Like I’d always done and completed everything else on my own in regards to education, career, achievements, sports etc. this would be a piece of cake, and, over my dead body, I’d let anyone see me even remotely sick, let along take care of me. Oh boy, what an eye-opener. I’ve really learnt that it’s no shame to ask for help or accept the helping hands of the people who truly love you. If I hadn’t had my amazing friends who are like family to me, I don’t know if I would’ve been here today. They have taught me so much, and especially that they don’t see me in any different light or as a weaker person just because I need a shoulder sometimes. We all do, and we should be proud of this.
6. Life is not always perfect but it’s what you make it to be.
Are you a ‘glass is half-empty or glass is half-full’ person? I suggest you start looking at the latter. You’re reading the words of someone who’s had cancer twice, been clinically dead for a few minutes, had my heart ripped out of my chest twice, was diagnosed with depression from age 15 and much more that’s too personal to mention here, but hey, I’m not trying to come up with excuses for myself, and a lot of people have been through much worse than me, but you know what? At the end of the day, I’m still lucky enough to be on this planet, taking a physical breath, having the world at my feet if I keep working hard, so despite all of the things coming at me, I’m happy and I’m alive and doesn’t that speak for itself?
7. You will look back and realise it’s the small things in life that matters.
It seems so many people are going through life waiting for something BIG to happen. However, when that ‘big’ thing comes around it’s never really as great as we’d imagined in our heads. Do you know why? Because the ‘big’ things are normally not the significant things in life – it’s all the small things we take for granted in life. Like the goodbye kiss from your partner in the morning, the smile from a stranger crossing the street, your best friend who sends you a text just because she or he is thinking of you, the way the one you love with all your hearts sees straight through your eyes and into your soul. I could go on. But I’ve truly found that these things are the most important to me in life and I don’t ever want to take it for granted because it can be taken away from you so easily.
8. No matter how much I care about someone, some people just won’t care back.
And you have to be okay with this! No one in this world is perfect, and if you spend your life trying to be, you’ll waste it. I’ve come to terms with, no matter how much I tried to care about some people or show them my love, they just wouldn’t care back. However, the one thing I will always keep in mind is that I won’t ever sink to their level of ‘carefree-ness’ – I will always try to be the bigger person, and care about every single soul that crosses my path even though they may not return it.
9. It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.
Even just up until ½ year ago I would’ve never agreed on this statement. I would’ve rather gone through life without ever falling in love again or risking my heart or feelings in the process. Being alone would suit me just fine! And I’m still very content being myself, because I’m happy this way, however, this doesn’t mean I’m closing myself off to finding true love. I’ve learned that the loves & heartaches I’ve endured in my life have helped shape me into the person I am today. Too often humans leave scars on our hearts, but it’s up to us how we showcase these scars. We can wear them with pride or we can try to hide them – either way, they are a part of your being and you should be proud that you have lived through this. I feel blessed that I have been in love with two amazing people in my lifetime – they have given me so many happy memories I cherish, but most importantly, they gave me the gift of believing in love again.
10. Sometimes you have to let go, simply because people are too heavy and it’s weighing you down.
I’ve had to let go of some people, by choice, in my life. I made a conscious decision of banning any negativity in my life after being diagnosed with cancer, and this ultimately meant that some ‘friends’ with bad energy couldn’t be a part of my life any longer. Was it selfish? Yes! Was it necessary? More than you know! But you know what? It turns out that those ‘friends’ were never really friends anyway. They didn’t care, and as sad as it is, being very very sick, really shows you who will throw themselves in front of a bus to save you and who will leave you on the road to be run over.
11. People will judge you and think they know everything about you.
A few years ago this would get to me every single day. I would constantly worry about what people would think of me, if I was pretty enough, if I was skinny enough, if I had the right friends or said the right things. Now? I couldn’t care less. The ONLY things I care about now, is whether my friends, family or people I value, loves me. And, this may sound selfish, but for the first time in 25 years, I can honestly hold my head high and say ‘I love myself for ME!’. I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m far from it, but I think I’ve reached a place in my life where I’m really content and happy with how I am as a person. People will always judge you, it’s something that will never go away. Some people will always think they know exactly how your life is just by looking at your instagram – as long as YOU know this is not the case, nothing else matters.
12. Be proud of what you’ve achieved and wear your invisible crown with your head held high.
Too many times I’ve been put down in my career or undermined because I’m a woman and I’m only 25. How on earth do I work for a global organisation and am the Head of Ecommerce for two continents and 1 country? Well, long story short – because I’ve worked my butt off to be where I am today. I haven’t been handed any short-cuts or favours, and 4 years ago I decided to blow my entire career in Europe to take a chance with Australia. Now? It’s the best decision I ever made, and my career is bigger & better than ever. Be proud of what you’ve achieved in this life. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Know that you’re a hardworking individual who’s determined to succeed. Hold your head high and don’t let that crown drop!
13. That your mind is so much stronger than you realise.
One thing I really give credit to is my mind. Yep – a somewhat small, insignificant piece in the grand scheme – so you’d think! I’ve learned that everything that goes on in my head is reflected in my actions and how I am as a person. When I let negativity into my mind I instantly have a bad day. You don’t realise how strong positive thinking is and how it directly has an impact on your life. Positive thoughts become positive actions. And positive actions contribute to a positive life with an abundance of love & happiness.
14. That the people you love most in life are taken away from you far too soon.
We never ever know if tomorrow will come – we just assume it will. We assume that we’ll wake up to the sound of our alarm clock and walk out to see the people we love the most. But what if that one day never came? Please, be open about how you feel every single day. Tell the ones you love how much they mean to you. Don’t ever leave words unspoken. That ONE word, that one action can make the biggest difference. But if you leave it unsaid, how will you ever know? I’ve learned to wear my heart on my sleeves – yes, I will get hurt more this way, but at least I’ve learned that at the end of each day I can look myself in the mirror knowing I’ve said what my heart was feeling at that very moment.