Reaching a milestone birthday is often a time for reflection. For Katy Wilby, a single woman with a successful career in finance, it's an opportunity to reaffirm that success comes from within. She shares her views on how to live an authentic life, based around her own set of values rather than buying into society's expectations of where a woman should be at a certain age.
She reminds us that, whatever your age, how you feel on the inside is so much more important than how life looks on the outside. Her reflections will inspire you to prioritise and build everyday habits in support of fulfillment and self-love.
"I’m a young single woman living and working in Guernsey, with a successful career in finance. I have my health, financial stability and a small but wonderful group of loved ones. In truth, I have very little to complain about and yet with my upcoming milestone birthday, I find myself in a period of reflection. As I write, I’ll be turning thirty in a matter of weeks and whilst reflection can be a positive exercise, I find it’s so easy for that lens to become toxic, layered with thoughts of scarcity and unhelpful comparison. With so many archetypal tick boxes for women in their thirties, it’s easy to understand where this toxicity comes from.
A homeowner, married, with children - that’s the trifecta, right? These antiquated ideas of where a woman should be at a certain age, or the notion that these aspirations should be the top of her priority list, is how so many of us sink into negative mindsets. Mindsets that achieve little but sabotage our chance at happiness, breathing life into an internal voice telling us that we haven’t achieved enough or in fact, WE aren’t enough.
Whilst I’m not a mindfulness teacher, wellness expert or anything of the sort, I do have a passion for self development and a drive to cultivate a fulfilling life for myself - one that feels authentic to who I am, rather than a mirror of what society expects of me. In this vein, I’ve created my own set of tick boxes - my ultimate self-development bucket list, achieving success that starts from within, for no one’s validation or approval, but my very own.
Many of us become fixated on the idea of finding “the one” or looking for external validation from others. I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past and it’s a habit I’m determined not to bring with me into my thirties.
I’ve come to learn (the hard way!) that in order to sustain a healthy relationship, you have to be at peace with yourself and have a full and applied understanding of your own personal values. This is the only way to attract a compatible partner and it ensures you have the foundations in place to support yourself - with or without Mr/Miss right!
This step is an act of service to yourself and indeed to the person you enter into a relationship with. You have to be your very own, ‘the one’, filling up your cup before you can fill anyone else’s.
The more attuned we are to the smaller luxuries in life, the easier and more frequently we can cultivate happy thoughts. Whether it's making a cup of tea in your favorite mug or having a warm bubble bath and slipping into your most comfortable pjs, recognising and relishing in these small comforts is the ultimate happiness hack.
One of my favorite quotes encapsulates this idea beautifully. The philosopher, Montaigne, said; 'the pleasantest things in the world are pleasant thoughts and the great art of life is to have as many of them as possible'.
Negative self-talk is a real issue for me and something I’ve been working to replace with positive affirmations. It’s hard to do at first - it’s fascinating how difficult we find it to speak kindly to ourselves, yet negative self-talk is carried out with such ease. One technique I apply to switch my mindset around self talk is to ask myself - ‘would I speak to someone I love, like this?’. If the answer is ‘no’, then why on earth would I speak to myself in that way!?
Whilst not often thought of in this way, taking the high road can in fact, be an act of self love. I’m not advocating letting people walk all over you, or accepting people back into your life who mistreat you - but to release feelings of anger and resentment towards others, and avoid lashing out, is a fantastic way to preserve your own inner peace and happiness.
I have a simple, everyday example of this... the classic road rage incident! Someone in another car does something dangerous or inconsiderate and you blast your horn, maybe even hurl some abuse out the window to ensure the driver feels thoroughly shamed afterwards. How do YOU feel after one of these events? The feelings of anger and the spike of adrenaline - you relive the emotion and the incident for the rest of that day - prolonging the experience. Sound familiar? Would it have been better, if you’d have just let it go? Everybody makes mistakes and both of you could be spared this dark cloud over your day, if you’d have just taken the high road.
Jay Alderton said that 'the way you respond to others is a statement of who you are to the world'. I think it’s useful to consider this first, in those times we have the urge to react quickly on a short lived emotion.
Rejection is protection. I use the affirmation app called “I am”, this one popped up for me a few weeks back and it’s really stuck. It epitomises the idea that what is meant for you, will come to you and what isn’t, simply won’t. It’s the idea that every experience (both good or bad) and every outcome (the wins and the rejections) are instrumental for growth and leading us to our rightful position. I choose to believe and be comforted by the idea that life’s rejections are simply redirecting me onto a new path.
Growing older can create a sense of being ‘past it’. I’m not even entirely sure what that phrase means, but I imagine examples like; thinking you’re ‘too old’ to go back to university (why do we even say ‘go back’!?), or it’s ‘too late’ to make a major life change, be it switching careers or moving cross country.
Co-presenter of the High Performance podcast, Jake Humphries, said something recently that summarises this step well. In an interview he asked; “When is the best time to plant a tree?”, to which he responded “20 years ago”. Next he asked, “When is the second best time to plant a tree?’, to which he said... “right now”. What I took from this, is that it’s never too late to grow and indeed we should continue to do so until our very last day. Don’t let expectations (either your own, or someone else’s) or the inertia of life stop you from switching things up when needed, embracing new possibilities or challenges and continuing to grow into the best version of you.
I recently discovered Roxie Nafousi, and she speaks a lot in her books about the presence of fear and doubt and how this hinders us from manifesting our dream lives. She teaches that to remove fear and doubt you need to welcome all emotions, allowing your mind to process them fully, so you can heal. I think giving yourself space to do this, free from judgement, is one of the most important acts of self-love.
I hope my reflections provide some reassurance and inspire you to prioritise and build everyday habits in support of self-love, to fulfill you and attract even more positivity into your life. I hope this serves as a reminder to us all, in this fast-paced, digital world, that how life feels on the inside is SO much more important than how life looks on the outside."
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