Here we are. October 16th and I am on the eve of my thirty-sixth birthday. Back in the workforce during the day doing what I love in the marketing field, I find that I am having a bit more difficulty balancing things than I would care to admit. Thinking back on the last six years of blogging, being a “public figure” (for lack of better term) and trying to navigate this thing called life, I have learned a lot of lessons. Some with practice, and others the hard way, but either way they have helped me to become and grow into the man I am today.
My therapist said something that hit home last night. Amid an emotional session where I opened up about a lot of feelings I am having at this stage in my life, she turned to me and told me that it was time I stopped worrying about others before myself. She used the analogy of me standing in the middle of a crowded room, and one by one people would ask me for an item of clothing. She said it is in my nature to want to help others and that before I knew it, I would be standing naked and lonely in the middle of the same room.
She acknowledged that during our work together she has seen the intensity with which I live my life. Both good and bad. And also my inherent nature to not like the feeling of being pitied or being seen as weak.
That’s a lot to hear in one session… but it got me thinking. So I scratched down the following list in hopes that it will offer a bit of perspective from the moments and memories I have lived. From the tears and the laughter. And to help me recenter and refocus to ensure that my 36th is my best year yet.
1. People grow apart
I have a hard time with this lesson in particular. Probably why it’s number one on my list. I have had, and have lost, a lot of friends in my life. From moving a lot as a young boy, to people I never thought would become so horrible towards me, I am aware that people change and friendships fade. What I have to remind myself is that although I will miss some of them dearly, that this is just a part of life. I have no doubt you have someone in your life that you feel the same way about. Sometimes we find each other again and sometimes we don’t. Don’t beat yourself up if it can’t be rekindled.
2. It’s not always going to go your way
I am not a very good loser. I am in fact quite the control freak so when things don’t got my way, I can at times not take it so well. In fact, since we’re being perfectly honest, I have at times reacted quite childishly or brashly. That being said, I also have come to understand that it is usually when things go wrong that I learn my best lessons. Either in business or personally, it is the challenging moments in life that allow me to appreciate the good so much more.
3. Being an entrepreneur is FUCKING HARD
For those of you considering it, don’t let the “why I quit my job and you should too” tales fool you. Each and every entrepreneur I have spoken to has come in to times during their career where they doubt if they did the right thing. Whether it’s financial struggles and inconsistencies, or moments where you realize you will never have someone love your business as much as you do, it’s not easy. But my goodness, is it worth it. So for the strong willed of you out there who are concerned it might be hard, yes. It will. But the risk is worth it and I don’t regret a single moment of my career.
4. Being honest makes people uncomfortable
This sucks, but it’s true. Being a member of the media made me realize this a few times over the years. People want the truth, but just not too much of it. They want to see you smile and get uncomfortable when you cry. It’s just a part of the industry I guess. But then again, I’ve never been one to follow the rules. With me you get both. And considering you’re reading this still all these years later, I’d say my model is working just fine.
5. Me time is just as important
A lot of my life is online. And I mean A LOT. But I have come to understand that having moments and things just for me that I don’t share with you all is just as important for my mental well being. So if I take a few days off from social media or it takes me a little longer to write a blog post, I’m okay. I’m just focusing on other things
6. Don’t compromise yourself for money
This one was hard. Especially to some of those really big contracts that have been dangled in front of my face that would require me to compromise on who I am or what I believe. I write a lot of sponsored posts because I have been smart in finding partners that fit me, NOT the other way around. And for those of you who have chosen to see that as a weakness, I feel bad for you. I’m always myself and always will be. I’m just lucky enough to be able to get paid to do that vs telling you that three competitor brands are all my favourite in the span of a few months. I know who I am and I am proud of it. Brands don’t like it? They can go work with people who say yes to everything. End of discussion.
7. It’s okay to be not okay
I have had to ask for help at many points of my career and my life. Personal hurdles and loss have affected my performance. I have at times taken on too much work and needed help to ensure things got done. I am not always the picture of perfect happiness. I am allowed to be human and so are you. Whomever makes you feel otherwise isn’t your friend.
8. Put down the fucking phone
It may seem hypocritical of me, of all people, to say this… but trust me. Do it. Not every meal needs to be an Instagram story. Not every vacation should inspire FOMO in your followers, friends and family. Not every date night needs to be documented on the internet. We’re living in an age where social isolationism is a very real issue and I am trying every day to connect with people more and my phone a little less.
9. Be kind to others, no matter how many times you’ve been hurt
It doesn’t matter who has hurt me. Who has broken my trust. Who I genuinely have loved as a friend and who left me when I needed them most. None of that matters. Because if I let each time I have been let down break me, I would be a very bitter and angry person. And while sometimes that emotion can come out… I try to remember that the people in my future should not be held to the standards that the people in my past set. That isn’t fair to them or myself to hold on to grudges and pain.
10. Find things that make you happy and cherish them
I fricking love to cook again. I’m TRYING to carve out more time to write this book. I want to book a trip for just myself in 2020 and travel alone. All things that I know I do because they make me happy and allow me to appreciate myself and my skills. I’m a phenomenal marketer. I’m a successful blogger. I am a good husband. All of these things I am proud of and I cherish for me. Not anyone else.
11. Learn from your mistakes
This is a big one for me. Goodness knows I have made enough of them online to last a lifetime. I look back and I think to myself… if only I could have stopped myself. But I realize that mistakes light the way to lessons. And if you make no mistakes, how can you ever learn? Maybe it’s just me. But I am thankful for each and every one of them. No matter how hard they were to get through.
12. Say no more often
Seriously. Do it. You won’t believe how freeing it can be.
13. Nothing is guaranteed
Had you told me at 30 that this is where I would be in my life six years later, I wouldn’t have believed you. Same thing with me at 25 about where I was at 30. Nothing in life is guaranteed my friends. People can suddenly die. Money is like water and disappears faster than we like to admit. People grow up and grow apart. But all you can do is promise to be kind to yourself and others.
14. Try new things
Feeling stuck in a rut can be very defeatists. Try the food item you’ve been too scared to eat. Go do the CN Tower Edge Walk. Go sing Karaoke for the first time. Take a class because you want to learn. Just try something new and broaden your horizons. You never know what it could lead to.
15. Put good thoughts out into the universe just because
I often wish good things for others because I know that they deserve them. I also often try to just think positive thoughts when the world feels too much. Now, whether you believe in energies, crystals, the power of positive thoughts and those sorts of things… some times it just takes a simple change of perspective.
16. Never take yourself too seriously
Not to brag (because arrogance is one of the ugliest qualities in my opinion) but I’ve been a pretty big deal in several occasions in my life and my career with the blog. That being said, I have never believed myself to be better than anyone and I have always tried to treat people with the respect and sincerity I hope to be treated with. I don’t care how successful I become, how rich I may be, how “influential” someone may believe me to be… I am just a human being.
I cannot stress this one enough. I have too many friends and family members that say to me “I wish I gone to x” or “Next year I’ll find the time.” Now I understand finances play into this one, but remember to make yourself a priority too. It is in my travels around the world that I found some of the best people and parts of myself. I love Toronto and my home, but if I could travel more I would in a heartbeat. Even just a weekend roadtrip away with Julio and Canela can reset my whole perspective and energy.
It’s funny to say this but I am astonished at how many people I know who don’t. And while blogs are great, I mean go buy yourself a paperback book, get away from technology and immerse yourself it in. Heck, even if it’s a Sunday paper that you create as a personal ritual, trust me when I say it is quite transformative. I have personally made a vow to start reading a book a month when I’m thirty six. It’s so important to my mind and my heart.
19. Eat Well and Often
I am exhausted at the though of people depraving themselves. I get it. It’s important to be mindful that indulgence should come in moderation but holy fuck just eat the damn pizza every now and again. Food is a source of exploration and pleasure. It is meant to be tantalizing and for those of you who are staying away for something in the mentality that it will ruin your figure or six pack, trust me when I say those things aren’t as important as you think they are. I’d rather enjoy a glass of wine and some cheese over worrying about my v lines on my stomach any day of the week.
20. Find a hobby and don’t lose it
This lesson I’m still learning. I have a bad habit of picking up something and then getting bored and letting it go. So this is my promise to myself. I will find one hobby (vs. twelve… another #LibraProblem) and stick to it for a year. I think it will be a cooking class or a language class. But who knows! I’ve got the intention now I just need to realize it.
21. Balance is a journey, not a destination
“Living a balanced life” is a crock of shit. Finding balance isn’t a state of idealistic perfection, but rather a choice every day. Instead of beating myself up for falling off the fitness bandwagon during a week, I remind myself that tomorrow is another chance. I’ll book a spinning class or take an extra long walk with the dog. I don’t want to beat myself up anymore for not living up to unrealistic expectations.
22. Hit the reset button every now and again
It’s scary. Trust me I get it. But sometimes you need to take two steps backwards in order to take three forwards. I’ve fallen apart more times than I can count – sometimes a bit more publicly than I would have cared to – but each time I brushed myself off and became stronger. I am the epitome of overcoming struggles and I am one strong ass bitch because of it. I’ve earned every gray hair, stretch mark and scar. And anyone who thinks otherwise can fuck off.
23. Be proud of your achievements
I hate the idea that people are too shy or are shamed into keeping quiet when they are proud of something they have accomplished. So moving forward, fuck that. If I hit a level of success I am proud of, I’m going to share it. If someone I love or follow does something amazing I’m going to share it too. Because they deserve to be celebrated just as much as I do. I am no longer going to be shamed into believing I am boastful. I have worked my ass off to get where I am in life in more ways than one. So the world is going to know about it.
24. Try to not compare yourself to others
I too often have suffered from this affliction. In the media we are often pitted against each other in some quasi Colosseum battle of the personal brands and it’s actually really nasty. Who is hotter. Who is younger. Who costs less to work with. And I’m done. I’m going to take a page out of my husband’s book and be more honest with myself, my colleagues and my industry. Not to be confrontational, but because no one is going to stand up for me better than I will.
25. Trust your instincts
I cannot stress this enough. If it feels fishy or off, chances are it is. Run.
26. Let out those tears when you need
Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
Read that one more time for those in the back.
27. Give a good hug
Obviously being mindful of consent and personal space, but trust me when I say many people have no idea the power of a good hug and how much I need them sometimes. I hope people feel the same about me.
28. Don’t lift yourself up by tearing others down
I’m guilty of doing this early in my career. So enraged by the actions of others, I in fact became a bit of a bully. Years later I have no right to judge the actions, work ethic, relationships and choices of others. I genuinely wish even my colleagues that don’t see eye to eye with me well because I know how fucking hard life and work can be. And no one deserves to feel attacked, hated or alone.
29. It takes all kinds
Dad used to say that a lot to me when I would vent about someone doing something in a way I didn’t agree with. I miss my Dad a lot. Especially on my birthday since losing him suddenly. But trust me when I say when you stop caring about those in your life who “seem” to be getting away with something you don’t agree with, the world becomes a lot less heavy. It does not diminish who you are that they are who they are.
30. Sometimes you have to lose
A metropass. A friend. A family member. A promotion. An opportunity. Loss in necessary even though it hurts and it sucks so fucking much. You’re going to be okay even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. I promise.
31. Don’t cut corners
Hard work takes time and effort. There is no quick way around anything in this world and if there is, I can guarantee it will bite you in the ass one day. Don’t rush the process and don’t give up on yourself too quickly.
32. Your tribe is your vibe
As someone who is essentially feeling tribe-less right now, this is a hard one to admit. But we go through phases in life and albeit lonely for me right now, I know that one day I will find friends who love and support me. Who make time for me. Who call me without asking something of me. I will find people I have yet to know who know me better than anyone ever has. And I don’t resent or hold any malice towards anyone. This is a thank you for their love when I had it. But I have to focus on finding my new tribe now.
33. Life is short
Don’t let regret feed on what ifs and should haves. Be responsible for chasing your dreams and your goals because no one is going to do it for you.
34. Trust me, it’s not that bad
I have dramatically thought my world was ending and even though in the moment, it felt like it was, I survived. I’ve had my heart broken so many times by friends, lovers and family. Heck coworkers have let me down so badly that I’ve impulsively left jobs. People that don’t know me at all have tried to publicly smear me and ruin my career. But looking back now I feel bad for them all because they lost me. And I’m pretty fucking amazing.
I cannot express how important it is to write down your thoughts at the end of the day. Start a blog if you like. Or jot down in a booklet before you lay down to rest. Thoughts, anxieties, stresses and emotions are sometimes like a wave for me and if I don’t let them out I feel like I’m drowning under them.
36. Learn to let it go
It’s hard to forgive those people who don’t deserve it. It’s even harder to forgive yourself for some of the things you have done to yourself and others. But I promise you that the act of learning to let go of the anguish and the pain is the only way to move on in your life and along your own journey without being dragged back by the anchor of self-doubt and self-destructive behaviour.
Tomorrow I am one year older. I will be a whole new Daniel. A result of the Daniel I once was while on the path to being the Daniel I will be. And the journey won’t even be smooth sailing, but I feel more ready for it because of these thirty-six lessons.
Who knows. They might completely be different in a year’s time. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it?
Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year
Photo by Ryan Emberley