Life Lessons I Wish I Knew At Sixteen
Life lessons: That’s me in middle showing my undies with my two sisters.
Have you ever looked back through your journey to see the big life lessons that were dark moments at the time but ultimately brought light?
This may be a little too personal for some of you so please feel free to click off here.
When I was sixteen, I lived in Port Macquarie and in theory was having the time of my life. I had great friends, my first boyfriend, and a bike that I pedaled from one end of our town to the other; I felt as free as a bird.
In those days, I would creep into my brother’s bedroom when he was out (he was the only one with a full-length mirror), turn my back to the mirror, and angst about the width of my ankles. My bestie had long lean legs with pretzel thin ankles and mine weren’t shaping up anywhere near close to hers. When I was done with my ankles, I would turn around and with all my muscle power I could summon, I would try my best to create a gap between my legs like the glam girls with long legs at the beach. This was the beginning of many years of comparing myself to others.
On the odd time my mother would catch me, she would tell me that ‘One day you will realize how lucky you are to have strong legs that will carry you through life.’
Hey, I was sixteen as though I was going to listen to my mum!
Not long after my sixteenth birthday, my little world fell apart, my dad had a transfer in his job to Sydney and we were all wrenched out of our happy little ‘surfie’ lives in Port Macquarie.
My brothers and sisters were all at different ages; one stayed and the others were young enough to move on but when I hit Sydney my life stopped. I mean literally stopped. I reasoned, I already had lifelong friends in Port Macquarie, I had been to 3 schools by this stage and no longer wanted to try.
Me in green in Port Macquarie with my family and grandparents before we left.
For the best part of the next 5 years I shut down, made no friends, didn’t have a boyfriend, refused to get involved with life, and skirted around its edges, doing the minimum I needed to get by. There were many life lessons headed my way.
Fortunately, in my twenties, I found a job I loved in marketing and slowly I found a world in the big city where I fitted. I met great people and started a new chapter of my life.
But something was always missing. My self-esteem by this time had taken a battering, the carefree years of a teenager were missing and I did the best I could to cobble together some sort of ‘mask’ that I was together on the outside but on the inside I was still that girl crying in the backseat of the car as my family drove away from my safe place.
I did a dangerous thing, I started to put my self-esteem in the care of others — men.
How I felt about myself was based on how men saw me, treated me, loved me, and then eventually left me.
My self-esteem plummeted from one failed relationship to another.
By the time I was 32, I had ‘wasted’ a good half of my adult life not knowing who I was and not feeling the power that you can feel when you believe in yourself. It seemed I needed to learn more life lessons than my sisters and brother who had moved more easily into this stage of their lives.
Things got so bad, my life kept me up at night! I could no longer sleep at night, I would drag myself to work, work in a daze, and then an exhausted mess head to bed for another sleepless night. I started to take sleeping tablets and things just got worse. This went on for years.
I was lucky, my day of reckoning came and I decided to do something about how bad things had become and found my way to a great bunch (by this stage I needed a whole team!) of healers.
Over time, they taught me to value and love myself, to take care of myself, not give everything away to others as I had always done, and keep something for myself. I learnt my boundaries and stuck to them.
And then I had an appointment with The Indian Guru. By this stage I was done, I was sick of talking about me, I had re-learnt to sleep (after having wiped out my sleep memory with sleeping tablets) and I felt I could deal with this on my own. One of the kind people who had helped me so much insisted I see the Guru and in one session of 1 hour my life truly changed.
The Guru read my mind and not once did I open my mouth, I cried, he talked and he promised when I walked out of the room I would be different. He moved more energy than a nuclear bomb.
I didn’t even make it to my car before a stream worse than someone afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome hurled from my mouth. For the first time, I can remember I was truly angry, I sat in my car and yelled, screamed, and swore. All of a sudden, I could ‘see’. Twenty years of angst was gone, those boyfriends appeared weak, frail, and unworthy, and in that moment I couldn’t understand why I had wanted to be with them.
But most importantly, I could see me. I could see that the kindness was more important than the size of my ankles, I could see that the empathy I had for others was far more important than the gap (or no gap) between my legs, I could see that the goodness outweighed any physical faults and my intelligence was alive and well. My mother after all was right!
I now know, after spending the past 7 years working with women as a life coach, what happened. I literally had an energy/cathartic/mindset shift. A sort of fast-forwarding of life lessons all at once that allowed me to start seeing myself in my environment, how I behaved and reacted. It was like being projected outside of my body and becoming an observer in a situation that previously I had no perspective on.
From that day forward I have never compared myself to others, I have never looked outwards for my self-esteem but allowed it to be nurtured from inside.
The inside cover of Italian Joy and the life I found.
If you, too, have low self-esteem, you can start doing the following:
- Honour your word, do what you say, and treat your word towards yourself impeccably. Your words are as powerful as spells. Cast only good ones.
- See the good in yourself, keep a journal of all the great things you do, and recognise the positive.
- Live in creative energy not competitive. When you are creative, you believe that there is enough space for you and you don’t need to compare yourself to others. Instead, you can support and be supported.
- Do what brings you joy, let it be enough, and pay attention to what you like. Follow the feel good, it will show you a lot about yourself.
- Pay attention to the people around you. Make sure you have a group of friends that love and support you for being you.
I realized, once I had healed my low self-esteem, how much it had held me back, how it had stopped me from living the life that was waiting for me, and the difference when your true power flows into your bones and sticks.
I couldn’t hang around my old life for much longer and some of you already know the end to this story but eventually, I hopped on a plane to find a new life as a photographer in Italy as told in Italian Joy. On the other side of low self-esteem was the most brilliant life waiting for me.
So dear friends, if you are 16, 20, 30, or 60, the age isn’t important! It’s never too late to turn those life lessons into gold, if you too feel you haven’t yet met the real you or tapped into your true self, you can watch my free training HERE.
Remember: kindness is more important than the width of your ankles and your mother was probably right!
Love and kisses.