Life Lessons & Balance: A Guest Post from One of My Oldest Friends

Months and months ago, I asked my good friend Joe to write a guest post. Time passed. A few weeks ago, we spoke on the phone, and he reminded me of the post.

It was finished, he said. He apologized for making me wait. After reading it, I realized that his insights wouldn’t have been as meaningful as they are now, if he had written it immediately after I asked.

Life’s funny sometimes, huh?

Anyway, Joe and I have been friends for almost ten years. (Wow. That’s a long time.) He’s an incredible person and he’s always been in my corner. One of my favorite things about him is that he knows the worst parts of who I am, who I’ve been, and he’s still an extremely supportive friend.

He’s a bit Ghandi-esque…. full of forgiveness and positivity. I greatly admire him for it. I’m thrilled to share what he wrote with you, about his search for balance and purpose.

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“I’ve been friends with Melissa for nine years now.  I am constantly inspired by her and I hope her opinions in high regard.  I was honored and thrilled (both are understatements) when she asked me if I would do a guest post for her blog.  I quickly said yes and inquired what it should be about.  Her request for something positive and/or about lessons learned seemed more than feasible, as I had already convinced myself I was well-experienced in such subjects.

This is Joe.

This is Joe.

I began brainstorming immediately – jotting down ideas, writing paragraphs and tidbits of information, etc.  I was full of creative energy!  Suddenly, second guessing swooped in.  “What if Melissa doesn’t like what I wrote?”  “What if her readers are thrown off because it doesn’t live up to the level of excellence they expect while reading her blog?”  More ‘what if’ questions.  Putting more pressure on myself.  I’d usually write for my own benefit, but now I was focused on what others might think.  I scratched out everything I wrote (don’t worry, it was pen and paper – no screens were harmed in the creation of this post) and sent a message to Melissa, asking if there was a deadline.  Thankfully, there wasn’t.

The pressure and expectations were all self-imposed.  Melissa would still be my friend.  Her readers could easily scroll past my post.  No harm done.  I was being silly.

LESSON #137:  I am my own worst critic.

(Even now as I write that, I’m debating whether it should be worded differently).

This is something I’ve realized on multiple occasions.  Sure, there were actual expectations from parents, teachers, bosses, and friends.  However, I often put pressure on myself to meet expectations that weren’t actually there.  I like to think I’m not the only one who does this, but it’s alright if I am.  I accept this trait.

Wait – Joe, did you say you came to this realization multiple times?  Why yes, yes I did.

LESSON #42:  Sometimes I’ll make the same mistake more than once and have to relearn a lesson.

And that’s ok!  I can recall situations in which I said “wow, that was the last time I’ll ever make THAT mistake” and then later it happens again.  I believe it’s important to reevaluate/reflect and ask “why did I make this mistake a second time? Is it any different than last time?  What can I change so it doesn’t happen again?  If it DOES occur again, what are some healthy ways I can react so I don’t beat myself up over it?  What caused this?

LESSON #8:  Finding the source of the mistake may help in moving forward.

I was told a story about my nephew, in which he accidently bumped his head on a table and cried out in pain, then purposely bumped his head again.  He knew something hurt him and it was unpleasant, but it was as if he needed to go back to find out what caused this pain.  Maybe now he avoids that table completely.  Maybe he became more cautious.  Maybe he hit his head again.  I think we as adults (or young adults, teenagers, whoever is reading this) might need to revisit mistakes or painful experiences in order to move on.  I’m not suggesting you/me/anyone should dive back into traumatic or dark places.  I’m saying perhaps once in awhile we should reflect on what we’ve learned, how we learned it, and if we can still apply it to our lives today or continue to learn from it.

LESSON #0:  Lessons are learned at various speeds or points in time, depending on the individual.

As you probably guessed by now, the numbers I wrote next to the lessons are random and meaningless.  There isn’t a set order for life stages.  Things I have experienced and wrote about here might not apply to you, and that’s fine.  You most likely know things that I don’t.  There’s a possibility I never will.

I continue to learn something new about myself, others, and the world around me every day.  It’s overwhelming at times, but also beautiful.  I enjoy the search for balance.”

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Author’s Note: I haven’t posted in awhile. The blog has been down, life has been complicated, that’s really all that needs to be said. But here I am, back to my bread and butter, living, and writing about it. 

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