Turning 20 or 21 was never a big deal for me. I had a childhood in which I had to grow up incredibly quickly. The decisions that weighed on my 10 year old brain literally had life altering effects and it became normal to be solving crisis after crisis. This ended around 11 months ago. When my mother passed away. Since then I have spent time learning that life is much different than I ever thought that it could be. If I could re-do my 20’s, I wish that I had known the following information:
- You have to be responsible for your own happiness and wellbeing. You must take accountability for yourself above anything else and make sure that you are doing okay.
- You do not have to engage with your loved one’s mental illness. Maybe you thought it was okay because you made it ‘quirky’ or ‘funny’, but it doesn’t have to be this way with your parent/s. You are allowed to ask them to seek help. You are allowed to be independent from them. You can make decisions regarding your own wellbeing a priority.
- Once you have realised that the onus really is on ‘you’, you have to look inside and see what is going on. What kind of behaviour do you engage in? Are you a person that you would like to meet, do you have a set of morals? Do you have boundaries? Asking yourself these questions can be particularly painful and can feel pretty awful, but if you identify them you can actively change them.
- What you expect of other people is entirely up to you. You may expect a person to do one thing, but instead they do the complete opposite. Why does this happen? This is because we have an emotional reaction to another person's actions or lack thereof. We feel tied into people's actions and when they don’t do what we expect of them, it hurts us and we either fight, flight or freeze. For me it has been a lot of flight and freeze and only some fight. For you this may be different. But once we recognise that we are affected by the actions of other people we are able to manage our expectations of said people.
- There are people who will try to take advantage of you. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a gut feeling about these people. Have you ever been around a person and suddenly felt a terrible stomach ache? Maybe when you’re around this person, your heart races in a scary type of way? These are physical responses to fear, instinct and intuition. You should always listen to what your body is saying to you. Being in tune with your body and being grounded in the present moment is optimal for safety. If you feel this way, you should cease your engagement with said person immediately and take time to assess why you’re feeling this way. From there you can make a further judgement to see if you have been experiencing genuine fear or if you have been hyper vigilant because of past traumas.
- You can set your own goals and expectations. Implementing this one is really difficult when you don’t have any support around you, but it can be done. Visual aids help and so do alarms. Make your change something that you get to experience. If you’re at home, try writing a schedule. Make sure to be aware of what is going on in your day to day life. You will need to check on your emails, phone calls and text messages (especially if you’re trying to earn an income).
- It is okay to take time off and recuperate when you have worked hard. You may have had a long day doing whatever it is that you love and when you get home you have the right to lay down and do nothing – if that is what you want to do. It is easy to fall into the habit of doing this a little too much, and we must remember that sunlight is important for our wellbeing.
- It’s okay to make yourself things like a star chart and a rewards scheme. Reward yourself and you may get more done. This has been something that has worked for me. Star charts are your friend!