Confessions of a Confidante

Life. Analysed.

Patience Really Is a Virtue

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It can be difficult to hang tight until you arrive at the place you’d like to be. In my personal opinion, there are two reasons for this. One, we live in a culture of immediacy where we want, no need, everything as soon as the thought pops into our minds. And two, we are all a little bit spoilt, expect things to come to us easily and don’t want to work as hard as we need to achieve the things we want. But no matter what the reason, living in limbo is not enjoyable. It makes us anxious, uncertain of ourselves and often leaves us doubting people and questioning absolutely everything.

I am here to tell you all to take a deep breath. In my experience things tend to come around, even if it isn’t until much later. And if they don’t, there are bound to be lessons you can learn while you’re waiting – realisations about yourself and what you really want. Realisations that you may not have had time to have if things had fallen into place from the start.

When we get frustrated in a job naturally we want a new one. We tell people we’re looking, send out CVs online, contact recruiters and when things don’t happen immediately we come down on ourselves and on our existing job. Instead of huffing and puffing, think about what it is about your current job that is bothering you. How can you develop your role or work with your team to make things better? Your dream job may not necessarily come as fast as you like, so it’s worth spending as much time thinking of ways you can improve your current job as you do looking for your next one. Who knows, with a few tweaks here and there you might find that your work is more challenging and rewarding than you thought.

In relationships we always want our partners or love interests to not only be on the same page as us, but at the same time as well. Unfortunately things don’t always work out that way. People need time, things need time, life takes time. Just hold tight and have faith in the unknown. While the future isn’t always certain, one thing is: if you work hard, invest your energy in the right goals and people and are smart enough to read signs when they are right in front of your face, most of the things you want will be coming your way. In the interim ask yourself what it is you’re really after and take control over the things you can to make them happen.

A Sense of Purpose

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It is near impossible to live a life without a true sense of purpose. Whether or not you’re a religious person, you’ve got to believe in some capacity that you were put on this Earth for a reason. Or if that’s too deep for you, you might think ‘now that I’m here, what can I do to make this all better? What can I contribute?’

As we grow up, go to school, travel, learn, grow and live we start to figure out what we enjoy and what we’re good at. We might even figure out how to make money and build a stable life around doing that very thing. But often we’re steered off course. We’re lead to believe that there are greener pastures somewhere else. That money, corporate ladders, international opportunities, or fame are more important. So we give them a go. Why not, we’re bright and capable of achieving anything we set our minds to right? Moreover, we have lots of talents and don’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves. We’ll challenge ourselves while we’re young, push the boundaries of our comfort zone while we’re unattached, and then, if we’re still not satisfied, we can go back to that thing we were destined to do. That thing we’ve secretly been certain of all along.

This is not a bad path to take so long as you DO end up achieving your true purpose. In the popular job hunting guide ‘What Colour Is Your Parachute?’ Richard Bolles asks his readers what mark they want to leave on the world. He lists nine possible options. The likelihood is that a few will speak to you but probably one much more so than the others. We don’t often think of ourselves as being so important that we’re leaving a “mark on the world”, but it’s not a bad question to ask yourself when you’re deciding on a career path.

The recent news of Steve Jobs resignation as Apple’s CEO has resulted in a lot of inspiring editorial coverage. Not only is he an extremely brilliant and innovative man, but seeing as his health is unfortunately depleting, he is asking himself (and us) many important questions. Questions about life’s purpose and our purpose in it. He’s personally expressed great feelings of content for having spent every day of his life working on something, building something that he believes in and loves. Can you say the same thing? And if not, what steps can you take so that when death is on your doorstep you can?

A Filtering Process

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When it comes to love, life tends to take the following course: early adolescence – first crush > first boyfriend/girlfriend> first kiss >> high school – first love > heartbreak > despair >> university – experimental years > open mindedness/ambivalence/uncertainty>> young adulthood – the great search for something real and meaningful > looking at your friends in a different light > putting yourself out there > (occasionally) falling on your face.

It’s in that final phase that people start to take risks. They’ve reached an age where they can’t let too many more moments pass them by. They jump on opportunities and put themselves out there in a way they never thought they would. They’ve reached a new level of honesty with themselves, aren’t afraid to ask for what they want and make few apologies for having done so.

But when things don’t work out their way, it’s easy to regret having said or done anything at all. ‘Oh, I wish I could just go back in time and take that back. I wish things could just be as they were.’ Putting yourself out there is NOT the problem, it’s a great thing. Yes you might be faced with some disappointments, but isn’t it better to know the truth? After all, what we’re really looking for isn’t just someone who is nice and bright and attractive, we’re looking for someone who deals with situations in a way that makes us comfortable, who doesn’t shy away when times get awkward or hide at the mere sight of a bump in the road.

The person we’re looking for would never make us feel uncomfortable for having expressed romantic feelings even if they didn’t feel them back. They would recognise the courage that took, feel flattered by it, and embrace us even more as a friend. The person we’re looking for would never turn a short sexual fling into a reason to end a friendship. They would have enough consideration to be honest and say ‘this isn’t what I am looking for at the moment, but I think you’re an amazing person and quite frankly I feel closer to you for having been through this together.’

At a distance we can romanticise almost anyone. But are they made of the material we need them to be made of? Putting yourself out there and not getting what you thought you wanted isn’t something you should feel badly about, but instead take comfort in. Because you’re that much closer to finding the person who can offer you all of the things you need.

Accepting people for what they have to offer

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We all have such high expectations of life and people and ourselves, sometimes we forget that not every experience is going to live up to them and nor do they need to. Take love for example. We are all in search of it. Some of us have found it and kept it, others found and lost it, and many of us have never found it at all. The idea, as far as I understand, is that you’ll only probably ever find it once – maybe twice if you’re lucky. Why then do we expect everyone we meet to be that person? And moreover, why do we come down on them when they’re not?

I was talking to a friend last night. He’s just moved to a new city and recently met a girl. He boldly asked for her number on a night out and they’ve gone on a couple of dates since. While both dates went well, there seems to be one reason after the other as to why she hasn’t been able to meet him in the past couple of weeks. He’s been messed around in the past and feels like the same thing might be happening again. ‘But you’ve only just met her’ I said, ‘maybe she legitimately IS busy.’

Instead of focusing on the fact that she’s not ready to jump into a relationship with you, enjoy what she has offered till now, I tell him. For starters, she accepted your offer and gave you her number = compliment. She’s been on two dates with someone she doesn’t even know = flattering. You’ve just moved to a big new city and got to go out with the first girl you asked = ego boost.

What happens with my friend and the girl is to be determined, but the point is why does everybody have to mean everything to everyone all the time? If a person fancies you take it as a compliment. Put that positive energy back into yourself and use it towards building your confidence or enjoying your day more. Not everything is always going to work out exactly as you planned, life is a series of moments, a series of connections, each with its own unique experience, lesson and memory. Try not to be so demanding of people and instead enjoy them for who they are and what they have been able to give you.


The old man who power walks down the beach in a track suit and ski poles

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The other evening I was having a lovely dinner in my garden with a good friend. She recently started seeing a guy who she’s really falling for – despite the fact that she doesn’t think it’ll go anywhere. ‘Why’ I ask her ‘if you’re falling for him, can it not go anywhere?’ To which she replied, ‘well you know, because he’s just not the right one.’ She gives me a few reasons why ‘he’s not the right one’ – job, travel, ambitions… all very important things to consider when choosing the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. But what about loyalty, sense of humour and having a moral compass that’s pointing in the right direction? Don’t these things matter? To illustrate my point I tell her a little anecdote.

This past Christmas I was in Puerto Vallarta with my family. There I was sitting on the beach one beautiful afternoon, sun beating down on my skin, staring out to sea when a man of about 95 years power walked by me with ski poles and a head-to-toe tracksuit. Considering it was about 100 degrees, you can imagine how funny this looked. I had a little giggle and thought – one day we’re all going to look like this. And when that day comes, the person I wake up next to better make me fucking laugh, because at the end of the day, nothing else really matters.

We often focus too little attention on the things that really matter – how someone makes you feel, how closely they listen to you, how special they think you are. Do you have to worry about where their eyes (or hands) are wandering when you’re not with them? Do they care when you come home upset, and if so, how much? What do they do to actually make you feel better? How many days, out of a hundred, are you actually having fun together and enjoying each other’s company? Because I will tell you one thing, a love of galleries, looking sexy in a suit, and a good job as a banker, does not a life partner make. But a compassionate friend, a loyal partner and a concerned and aware person does.


The Power of Beauty

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Beauty might be the most valuable currency in the world. It is a superpower. It can get people things they would have never otherwise dreamed of. It can fool the smartest man into believing anything, and have the most powerful man on his hands and knees. But what is it that they’re after really? Status? Sex?

I will admit that there is something completely intoxicating about being around beautiful people. Especially beautiful people who are fun and interesting. They can wrap you around their finger and keep you there as long as they like, because being near them makes you feel like the most important person in the room.

But sometimes beauty can be too closely associated with superficiality. Beautiful people often rely too much on their looks until it becomes all that they are. They work at it and invest in it to ensure that it will never go away, because who would they be without it? Would anyone care about them anymore?

The nice thing about not looking like a supermodel is that you have your whole life to become comfortable in your skin. You find a regime that works for you and you stick to it, but if you steer off every now and then no one notices. You experiment with fashion and hairstyles, you learn whether you’re more French manicure or Lincoln Park after Dark. You experience life through open eyes, develop a sense of humour about it, and determine what you want you role in it to be – with only yourself and your brain to help you achieve it.

And with this sense of awareness, ambition and ability to laugh at yourself you become beautiful. Because you too are interesting and fun but most importantly real and exactly yourself. And then you come in contact with a physically beautiful person, one who’s always gotten exactly what they’ve ever wanted, and they are jealous of you, because all they want to be in life, is something more than beautiful.

You come across the men who fawn over them and you make them nervous. Because you see past their superficial bullshit. You see them for the little insecure men that they are. Men who need to stand next to a woman, universally acknowledged as beautiful, to feel important. And that’s when you realise – I am just so damn happy to be me.



Be Thankful for Your Experiences

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We all have regrets. We’ve all experienced pain we’d rather forget and have behaved in ways we’re not proud of. But having had these experiences isn’t such a bad thing – after all we wouldn’t be the people we are today without them. We all know this, yet somehow we still come down on ourselves, wishing we had the strength to react more maturely and be in better control of our emotions.

Here’s a little thought that might offer you some reassurance.

For starters, we are all people who make mistakes. We each have a set of resources that help us deal with tricky situations, most of which we learnt when we were young and have been using ever since. These resources might tell us to yell when we’re mad, cry when we’re jealous or run away when we’re not being heard. Recognising that these reactions aren’t ones you wish to exhaust any longer is a necessary step for change. But instead of looking back and feeling embarrassed or ashamed, just thank your resources for having helped you cope in difficult times and move on and get some new ones.

Relationships are tricky for this one. People who have been hurt or feel like they’ve failed, often look back and feel angry. They resent the person for having taken advantage or for having made them believe there was a future when there wasn’t. The smart ones get themselves out and keep busy until the past feels like a distant memory. Sure that’s one way to approach a break-up and maybe not even a bad one, but perhaps I can suggest another.

Try to remember that not everyone on earth was meant for everyone else. Relationships are beautiful things that allow us to, even for a brief moment in time, experience another person and enjoy their company in an intimate way. If in the end they weren’t for us, then that’s okay, we will find someone else who is. If instead of looking back and feeling anger, you look back and accept that while your love was strong, it had too many flaws to evolve any further, you might have an easier time moving forward.

I always say, relationships are like outfits, we’re just trying them on until we find one that fits perfectly. Even if a jacket looks great on the hanger it doesn’t mean it’s going to look great on you. In fact, it might look best on someone else. And that’s okay.


Social Directors

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It’s human nature to assume a specific role within a group environment. At home we are a sister, daughter, son, brother, father or mother; at work we are a director, manager, executive or assistant; and in our friend groups we tend to be either a leader or a follower.

For some people, leading comes naturally. They have an ability to influence people, motivate them and build hype around ideas and social activities. Moreover, they are people who like to take initiative. They don’t leave life or happiness to chance or the organisation of others, but instead take it into their own hands. They’ll source the restaurant, make the reservation and gather the troops.

Other people prefer to follow. It’s not to say that they don’t have personalities or tastes of their own, it’s just that they know their strengths and organising social events is not one of them. They’d rather receive the invite, free their schedule for that night and show up feeling unstressed and ready to have a good time.

The good news is every social circle requires both leaders and followers. Where a problem can sometimes occur, is when the planners of the group are unable to relinquish control.

Directors must remember that even followers like to occasionally speak up and make suggestions, and when they do, it’s best to let them. For starters, their ideas are worth sharing as much as yours. And secondly, they want to return the favour of always being invited to things, so give them the chance to.

By relinquishing social control, your group of friends will get to experience new types of activities and barriers of latent resentment will collapse. Moreover, while everyone likes a person who takes the initiative to get things done, nobody likes a diva. Throwing fits and huffing and puffing when you don’t get your way is far from charming. So directors, remember to occasionally step out of the light, not every party is yours to throw.

Confronting Rejection

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How does one prepare themselves mentally and emotionally to face all of the rejection that they’ll experience in their mid to late twenties? Unfortunately rejection is inevitable- at every stage of your life of course, but it seems even more so when you’re in your later twenties. You look behind you and see years of work, years of preparation and experience. You’re ready to put yourself out there and give it your best shot. You’ve got the degrees, you’ve done the internships, put in the hours, but when it comes time to apply for jobs it seems the answer is often no- if we even get a reply at all.

Similarly, people in their late twenties look behind them and see a string of relationships, some positive, some destructive, others fleeting and never properly defined. You’ve travelled, learnt and grown as a person; you think you know who you are and what you want. And again you put yourself out there, into the world of love, sex and temptation and the response you get isn’t always the one you wanted.

And that’s when you realize, that all that flattery, all that praise and encouragement you received from parents and teachers every day growing up- the reason for it all was to prepare you for a world that is often unfair. To ensure that you would continue believing in yourself and your potential even when the world seemed cruel.

Fathers call their daughters ‘princesses’ because in the microcosm that matters to them- family- that’s exactly who they are. But also because they have to, if they want to make sure that their daughters grow up believing that they deserve nothing less than a prince.

Teachers tell their young students that they have potential, because they want them to know that they could do anything. That there are always options for them. That they shouldn’t be discouraged if one thing doesn’t work out because there are so many others that could and will.

The world is full of love, but it is also full of rejection- even for those deemed ‘lucky’. And that rejection can start to eat you up and take a chip off your confidence. It can make you feel empty, ugly and incapable. But that’s when you have to remember all of the encouragement you were given. Remember that all of that confidence still exists inside of you. That’s when you have to pick yourself up, shake off any hard feelings and put yourself out there again. Because generally speaking, fearing the ‘no’ results in fewer ‘yeses’.


Change The Subject

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For those of you who love Sex and the City as much as I do, I’m sure you remember the scene when Miranda, in her feminist way, stands up amongst her girlfriends and demands that they talk about something other than men for once.

Whether you’re obsessing about guys, body image, money, work, or friends, it doesn’t matter, it’s all unhealthy. It’s time for you to change the subject. And I don’t just mean the conversation you’re having with your friends, I mean the dialogue that is on repeat in your brain. It’s time for you to remember who you are and all the things that you have to be grateful for. It’s time that you do the world a favour and get off your self-pitying butt and go out and be your best self.

Am I suggesting that you never allow yourself the time to reflect? That you never allow yourself the time to mourn or sleep or articulate how you feel? No, absolutely not. I am the first person to acknowledge that not every day is filled with sunshine and rainbows, that there are times when even the brightest stars find themselves behind a dark cloud that is taking forever to pass. And in those times one should allow themselves to vent and they should expect their friends to listen. But there is a fine line between feeling a bit weak and allowing ourselves to fall into a hole of self-pity and loathing, and it’s the latter we all need to avoid.

Try to think back to a time when things were simpler. When you were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and looked forward to every morning. Make a list of the resources at your disposal and take advantage of them. Surround yourself with the people who make you really really happy, and make the decision to do things that will make you feel good about yourself more often.

Summer is around the corner and it is high time that we all put a spring back in our step. It won’t be long before the sun stays up till ten, dinners are eaten outside every night, and you look absolutely stunning with a great tan. Look out world- she’s coming back!

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