This much I know (so far)
Commedienne, writer, actor and all round legend Dawn French turned 60 earlier this month. In her most recent book Me. You. A Diary, she shares her, typically witty but equally thought-provoking, words of wisdom about life and what it has taught her over her six decades. She also reflected on her top life-lessons for Woman’s Hour.
They include not wasting time wishing you look different; not beating yourself up about not being perfect and being aware that time is short so filling it with things and people you love. Oh, and not bothering with adult colouring books and vajazzling (look it up).
All of which set me thinking what my headline list of life lessons would be at the ever-so-slightly younger age of 58 and three quarters (yes indeed, I’m claiming every one of those months before I get to the same age as fabulous Dawn).
Here’s what I came up with, in absolutely no order of importance, or depth, whatsoever:
Stop comparing yourself to anyone else. You will always manage find someone who’s better looking, smarter, fitter, more bendy (in a yoga context obviously)….I could go on, but you get the picture, than you are. Be proud and grateful for what and who you are. Celebrate your strengths and make peace with your inevitable weaknesses.
When you don’t know something, ask. I’ve lost count of the number of meetings I’ve been in where I’ve screwed up the courage to ask about something I haven’t understood, only for several, if not the majority of the other people to say, ‘thank goodness, I didn’t know what that meant either’. And if your question is about something to do with technology, ask a young person.
Never forget or take for granted how lucky you are to have people you love in your life and who, with any luck, love you in return. Tell and show them you love them as often as possible. Even if they find it a bit nauseating (boy children I’m thinking of you). Tough.
To the point above, nothing beats a good hug. Give them generously and frequently. Though probably not to the man who’s come to mend your boiler. Although if it’s freezing and your heating doesn’t work, maybe he deserves one.
You will always choose the slowest lane in a traffic jam.
You are braver and stronger than you ever thought you could be.
But when you’re not feeling either brave or strong, it’s completely OK to cry/scream/curl up under the duvet. Indeed, it’s exactly what you should do. Give the pain room. It will pass.
Ask for help when you need it. And accept it when it’s offered. It doesn’t make you seem weak. It means you’re strong enough to recognise you can’t do whatever it is alone. Whether that’s changing a plug or coping with a trauma.
You will always chip a manicure precisely five minutes after having it done. Just me? Oh….
Be kind - to others, but most importantly to yourself. I’m so with Dawn on this one. Yes, be the best version of yourself you can, but cut yourself some slack when you turn out to be less than perfect (duh). And give yourself an almighty slap on the back when you do something amazing. Especially if that’s figuring out, all by yourself, out how to use/work/fix something to do with technology. Go you.
What are the life lessons you’ve learnt so far? I’d love to know.
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