Today is an exciting (but not actually THAT exciting) day, because I turn 24 years old! I am actually in Montreal right now for business meetings and lunches (that’s how you know you’re an adult – your birthday is no longer a novelty so much that you spend the day with people you hardly know talking about marine insurance).
But I’m actually not too bothered about it at all. My last few birthdays have been pretty lame and depressing so spending it in Montreal and enjoying free expensive lunches is really a massive step up for me.
Since coming out of my mother’s birth canal 24 years ago (shout out to Momma Cheng!), I have learnt a lot of lessons along the way. I have garnered them to become the person I am today; and truth be told – I love who I have become. There are big decisions I have made in life that I have looked back on and thought, “I should have done this, rather than that” (such as going and living in Spain for 4 months rather than staying in Vancouver and finding a job at a bank), and had I done so, my life would probably be quite a bit different.
But to continually live looking back on those decisions, is to live life undervaluing what you have right now. Everyday I look at my life with the complete satisfaction of where I ended up, knowing what I have to come, and not wanting to change a thing. I came to be this way by following some very important lessons that I either learnt the hard way, or from my parents growing up.
1. Ignore the people who consistently try to bring you down: Ahh this lesson is such a cliché, but trust me when I say it. I have dealt with many people throughout my life that did not like me. They did not like that I wore shorts that were too short, or flirted with one too many guys growing up. They disliked that I spoke my mind, and that I wasn’t afraid to stand up for myself or stand out. When I was younger it was the girls who would criticize, and as I got older it was the guys. It was difficult to deal with, but every time I told myself it was because they were terrified of a strong female, and scared of people who did not quietly follow the pack. Whether this was true or not, it was what I told myself day in and day out – and it helped. Had I listened to the criticism I probably wouldn’t have done half the things I did – moved to Vancouver on my own, played rugby at a provincial level, started my own fitness bootcamp, and became a sports model. Those among many other things in my life define who I have become.
2. Put in Your Time & Do Your Due Diligence: this lesson can be very hard for most people (myself included), as patience is a difficult thing to come by. Don’t expect everything to just fall in your lap at once. My favorite quote is this: nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort. By effort I mean time, hard work, and dedication. This applies to so many aspects of our lives – physical fitness, career opportunities, loving relationships, athletic abilities, or even financial stability. In university I believed that right as I graduated, I deserved a high paying job in the financial district of a big city because I was smart and a hard worker. Please – everyone is smart and a hard worker if they’re graduating from a well-known business school. And yes, some people get lucky breaks, but the majority of people have to work for it. I have slowly learnt over the years to keep my career and life goals in mind at all times, but to realize they are not going to come immediately. This is a mindset that took a long time to set in, but has strongly affected my outlook on success in life, as well as deal with my frustrations and ideas of ‘failure.’
3. Save. Money: This is a lesson that my mother and father taught me from a very young age. Learning to save your money and not spend it, is a skill that I find is passed down from your parents. When I was 15, I worked at Boston Pizza as a server and would come home with $100 in tips every night. I would save that money and at the end of the month would put 90% of it into a savings account. The rest I would use as spending money. In university my father was very generous and paid for my entire tuition. I received $7,000 in scholarships that year and he let me keep every penny. Rather than spending it I stuck 90% of that into a savings account as well. To this day I have accrued a good amount of money in my savings to feel very financially secure. The reason it is so important is this – you never know what life is going to throw at you and when. Setting money aside to be able to travel, or put down on a car, or to invest in you, can make a significant difference when it comes down to it. You can still enjoy yourself and have fun while saving money for the future.
4. If you don’t like something? Change it. If you can’t? Embrace it: This is a bit of a controversial one, but I like it because to me it reflects the idea of taking life by the horns and challenging it. There are SO. MANY. THINGS. That people can complain about in their lives. If you don’t like the way something is, there is almost always an alternative. Growing up I was not very happy living in Calgary – as soon as I graduated high school I left home and moved to Vancouver for university. Best decision of my life. When I played rugby I started off as the smallest girl on the field who couldn’t hit worth shit. I trained hard every single day for 7 years and ended up playing for two different provincial teams. But there are also things that you can’t change about yourself, or have to decide whether it’s worth the pros vs the cons to fix. Everyone is dealing with something in their own way, and in the end the most important thing is learning to love your imperfections and the small weird things that define who you are.
I think I could go on for a little while with this list, but these four mean the most to me. I don’t want to come across as some ‘know it all,’ that has it all together, because it’s not like that at all. Instead what I do have, is complete every day satisfaction and happiness, which comes from rising above the different hardships, challenges, and obstacles life throws at you, and then learning how to come out on top.
Thanks for listening to my birthday speech <3