As the first year of my thirties has drawn to a close and I’m officially 31 as I write this, here is a list of the most important life lessons I have learnt since turning 30:
- Just because something doesn’t work out at first does not mean it won’t work out at other times. Although I learnt this mantra way before I turned 30, its meaning has become more significant to me since reaching my latest age milestone. The prime example of this is when I initially applied for PIP twice, but I was unsuccessful on both occasions. With the help of the deputy manager of the house my flat is in, I reapplied and about a month later I was awarded PIP, which makes me better off financially this year compared to last year so third time lucky!
- Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. I once saw a news article on Twitter that shocked me. I was worried it would develop into something much worse, but after that solitary story I didn’t hear anything further from it, so I guess I jumped to conclusions far too quickly on that one.
- Don’t be too enthusiastic about yourself or where your life is going to take you. I’ve seen my fair share of people who I felt were being over-enthusiastic about themselves or their own lives, but things took a turn for the worse. This made me think that instead of being overly positive about ourselves, we need to work harder in order to achieve our goals in the long run.
- Don’t judge someone by how they do certain things or say certain things etc. Some of this goes back to the first point, but when my house deputy manager was helping me complete my PIP form, he told me to write things properly (so that the people the form was sent to could easily read what I wrote). I found what he said rather condescending and he also said something that made me feel self conscious and hurt, but at least it taught me the valuable lesson of not judging him or others by how they do certain things or how they say them – just as important as not judging them by their appearance.
- Don’t be afraid to explain why you react differently or do things differently from others. As the strapline of my blog suggests, I have autism, which means I might react differently to particular things than others or do things differently from them. One day I was in a shop and as I was queuing to pay for goods, I became confused when a lady who appeared to be in front of me let me go first. I went ahead of her, but as I did she touched me on my back or shoulder and I shuffled forwards. I explained that I didn’t like her touching me because I have autism and she understood. To my amazement, another lady, who was standing outside of the queue, told me her son had autism. She told the lady in the queue and me about the story of when she witnessed her son shuffling forwards like I did and she had no idea why he did it at first, but it turned out he was also on the spectrum. This experience has taught me not to be afraid of telling members of the public about my autism. In the past I was too scared to tell people about my autism in case they would judge me, misunderstand me or not know what autism was, but now I believe that if I told members of the public about my diagnosis, it would help spread awareness of it.
- Deal with negativity in a way that suits you best. Last year I’ve had to deal with quite a lot of online negativity from being insulted on Twitter to receiving a comment on one of my YouTube videos that I wasn’t sure about. I even received some comments on my blog that I found negative, confusing or hard to interpret – two of these comments were even spam! As a result, I decided to no longer receive comments on any new blog post I publish, but still continue to receive them on my YouTube videos because they are overall more positive. Whenever I receive a negative comment nowadays, I just delete it as well as block the person who made the comment. Simple as that!
- Be careful with what you share online. There were times when I have put certain things online that I soon lived to regret. I would put particular updates on social media in the heat of the moment of upset or anger, but whenever someone mentioned those updates to me whether online or in person, I would either delete them or make them private so that only I could see them. Another good way I keep things private online is by sending myself direct messages of things that I don’t want to make public. I can also recall the time I published a blog post where I announced I was taking a break from the blogosphere because I wasn’t in the mindset to blog at that time. I shared that blog post on Twitter and someone commented on it telling me to stop worrying about something they and other people knew was worrying me due to having previously Tweeted about it. Although I didn’t explicitly mention what was concerning me in the blog post, the person who wrote the comment still knew what was worrying me and I even thought they were stalking me, so it goes without saying that I deleted the comment, but it did teach me to be careful with what I share online. That was also one reason I no longer accept direct comments on my newest blog posts.
- Try not to let yourself get too distracted by or involved with anything that disturbs you, especially in public. This goes back to my blog posts where I discuss people being rude to me in public and the most overwhelming and stressful day I have probably had, but there have been several times where I let myself get distracted by or involved in things that have disturbed me in public. Unfortunately, these moments have led to dire consequences from someone confronting me for giving them “dirty looks” to someone else gossiping about me on the phone. Since then, I have tried not to let myself get distracted by or involved with these things, for example I was recently on the train from Cardiff to Newport with my mum after we went shopping and the man my mum was sitting next to was talking on the phone for the entire journey. He didn’t sound too happy, so I tried my best to ignore him and turned up the volume on my iPod to further block out his conversation.
- If things don’t turn out the way you expect them to, put them in a more positive perspective. I know I’ve already mentioned not being too positive about ourselves, but as long as we find the right amount of positivity to focus on, it is absolutely fine. There have been several moments in which I was hoping for the best yet the worst happened. For instance, my friend who lives down the street from me once told me she could come over to my flat one weekend, but come the day I was expecting her to visit, she sent me a text saying she couldn’t come over because she was feeling down. There were other reasons she gave for being unable to come around on other occasions such as illness and spending time with her family and her then-boyfriend, but I learnt how to put these things in a more positive perspective. Say if my friend didn’t feel up to come over due to getting sunburnt, I could watch some of my favourite TV shows at the exact time they were broadcast and didn’t have to worry about watching them on a timeshift/+1 channel or on catch up TV.
- Choose which social platforms are best for you to follow people on. I follow a diverse range of people online be it on a video sharing platform or a photo sharing platform. While there is one person whose online video content does not appeal to me, I still follow that person on Twitter and Instagram because their photos and Tweets are quite often interesting to look at. More recently, I decided to unfollow another person on Twitter because I felt that they were being more negative on that platform as opposed to YouTube and Instagram, both of which I still follow them on and this made me feel so much happier.
- Moving on from negativity in the past makes you feel so much better. Part of this lesson also goes back to my post about my most stressful and overwhelming day two years ago, but this led to the two weeks following this day becoming tougher. A few months after this tough fortnight, I still went on about it online, but I stopped when someone reached out to me and told me it made them feel uncomfortable, most likely because they weren’t involved in the situation that upset me. At the beginning of 2017, I decided to completely move away from the situation and this has made me feel much better since then as well as focus on the present.
- Don’t take things too personally. In the past, I would think that certain people didn’t like me if they didn’t respond to any feedback I would give on their content, but I realised I was taking this a little too personally. More recently, I put it down to their own commitments that they were carrying out, which were just as important to them as responding to feedback from their followers.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you think your content is going nowhere or if people disagree with it. I have shared things online that I put a lot of thought, hard work and effort in, but I have either received no feedback from them (with the exception of comments I no longer want to receive on my blog) or people have disagreed with them. Despite this, I continued to create such content, but was more selective in terms of which platform I was going to share it on so that it would reach more people or more readers would agree with it.
- Only share things that completely allow you to be yourself. In the past, I would post things online that made me feel totally out of character and not myself at all. I eventually deleted these things and I have never felt more like the real me ever since.
- Don’t get too annoyed or upset if people forget certain things about you. I used to get really upset if people forgot certain information about me such as what food I like and don’t like, but I soon realised that people could forget these things due to illness or going through a traumatic event and this made me more lenient towards them. This has also made me think that I tend to forget things sometimes.
I was going to write down 30 things I have learnt, but I couldn’t think of that many and this post is long enough already, so I decided to write down half the number of these lessons.