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Rob Estreitinho @robistyping
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I'm turning 30 in a week. People often write about things they've learned by the time they hit 30, but that felt a bit too preachy for me. So I decided to write about 30 things I’m *still learning* at 30. A mix of personal and professional notes to self. Deep breath, here we go:
1. How to feel. Feeling something is more powerful than thinking about something.
2. How to understand. Just because you can describe it, doesn't mean you get it.
3. How to get perspective. Anxiety projection is very real and damaging. If everyone else feels judgemental, maybe I'm the judgemental one.
4. How to not take things personally. Feedback isn't personal. Just because the work isn't good yet, doesn't mean I'm not good (or good enough) yet.
5. How to keep going. First drafts rarely fly. I kinda know this in my head, but still always feel the chest sting when someone says "it needs more work". That just means the thing is evolving. Evolution is good.
6. How to be unstructured. Time isn't meant to be optimised. The comfort of a full calendar only lasts until you have some free time and don't know what to do with it. A busy calendar stripes you of your free will.
7. How to let go. The school bullies are gone. Life doesn't have to be about "eat or be eaten". Not all the time anyway.
8. How to accept. Sitting down isn't "being useless". It just means you're reaping the rewards of hard work.
9. How to make proper eye contact. When I do it, my anxieties tell me I'm terribly exposed. Everyone else just thinks it's a nice thing that helps you connect with others.
10. How to make a point. Long emails are overrated. I love doing these as it helps me think, but I suspect only 2% of them ever get fully read. It's better to give someone a call instead and talk it through.
11. How to sit straight. I have terrible posture. I suspect this doesn't help with hyperventilation. Nor with general health as I progress to my 40s and 50s.
12. How to enjoy. No one's counting how much you read. I love reading books but even more I love the idea of how many books I've read. This makes me – wrongfully – focus on the finishing of a book, rather than its enjoyment.
13. How to take care. There's no pride in saying I have a terrible sense of fashion (which I do) because it helps keep me focused. The real story here is I'm bad at taking care of myself and just found a narrative that makes that look good.
14. How to find meaning. Everything – everything! – is a narrative. Especially the things you take for granted. But that doesn't mean nothing has meaning or value. On the contrary – that's the one thing we can't count, that really counts.
15. How to be fair. When I write short email replies, I feel it makes it informal. When others do it, I feel it makes it defensive. This is obviously unhealthy. (Relate back to point 3.)
16. How to freak out. I was an angry kid, so I've worked really hard to control my emotions in adult life, which means I rarely freak out in public. But sometimes letting out steam is healthy. People won't abandon you for this.
17. How to chill. If you arrive five minutes late, no one's going to call you out. If someone else arrive five minutes late, it doesn't mean they don't care about you.
18. How to be less rigid. Binary thinking is a close cousin of not thinking at all.
19. How to be productive. Being productive is not an end, but it is a means to do the things people may remember in the end. It's the difference between regularly cleaning the kitchen (means) and having the right environment to cook a great meal together (end).
20. How to not stress eat. Stress eating feels great right until you're halfway through it. Then it just becomes a guilt trip. I still haven't worked out a sustainable replacement. Suggestions welcome.
21. How to look. I'm proud of reading books while I walk, but what I gain in intellectual chops I might be losing in emotional ones. There's pride to be found in just looking around (vs looking down). Relate back to point 6.
22. How to truly listen. We all do this: we're 'listening' to someone, but actually we're thinking of what to say next. On top of being a bit rude, it also creates unnecessary anxiety as the mindset is less about an embrace, and more about a performance.
23. How to breathe. I run and meditate pretty much each day but always find it hard to draw a full breath. Yes, it wildly depends on psych factors as well, but there's still work to be done to flex those muscles (literally).
24. How to play. I recently realised my mental safe space is basically a version of a scruffy workshop, with my toys and words and drawings surrounding me. I need more of these analog things in my life.
25. How to not systematise. I'm pretty good at thinking in systems, but that removes the humanity of daily life. Systems are great for work and operations, terrible for nuance and creativity and enjoying yourself and being around others.
26. How to take a compliment. I always, always deflect those. Deep down I feel I can always do better. And while that's a useful thing, it removes the aspect of enjoying the spoils of your work. Constantly hustling without the enjoyment is a terrible way to work and live.
27. How to not fidget. Again, psych issues at play, but I physically cannot stand still. I move my legs, scratch my fingers, bite pens, look weirdly at the wall. These happen mostly when I'm thinking about something, but thinking about something shouldn't mean stressing about it.
28. How to amigo your ego. Things like this thread are a product of my ego and an exercise in vanity. I don't fully understand if I am writing this to help others, or because I need the attention. (Though relate back to point 18., it's probably both and that's probably ok.)
29. How to leave things incomplete. I'm obsessed with order and closure, but this puts unnecessary pressure on things that don't really matter. So even though I said I'd do 30 of these, I'm finishing at 29. How dare I! Don't care. It's fine. We'll be fine. You'll be fine.
That's it! Ends of the year always bring out a contemplative state. This is my version of that. All things considered, 2018 was great. But now it's time to try and enjoy actual time off. Books. Snacks. Naps. Cats. Peeps. Absolute glory. Happy holidays!
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