1. Hear this! You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
One of the most painful things we can do ourselves is spend our lives on a quest for some arbitrary idea of perfection. I know as I spent way too many years chasing “perfect” and it served only to make me feel less beautiful and more awkward. So many precious moments are being destroyed while we stress ourselves out trying to make our bodies/ faces/ dinners/lives look like beautifully filtered Instagram posts. Here’s the irony (and the truth): We are our most beautiful, attractive and exciting when we are standing comfortably in our own skin, doing things we are passionate about and surrounded by the people we feel most empowered by. Authenticity, transparency and individuality are powerful traits and they dissolve anxiety at record speed, allowing us to connect with those around us in truly meaningful ways. Also, you need to know that while you are worrying about those extra few pounds or wrinkles or whatever other unique trait you’ve branded a flaw, someone is looking at you thinking you’re the most amazing and beautiful person they have ever seen—guaranteed.
2. Live your version of your best life.
You want to know the best way to ruin your life? Spend it trying to win the approval of someone else. Being raised by someone in the winter of his life taught me a valuable lesson: every life comes to an end. When that time comes, you will either think of the joys you have had and the love you have shared or the joys you could have had and the love you could have shared. I don’t want to throw the 90 year-old version of myself into a sea of regret by playing by someone else’s rules. Risk looking foolish, and don’t allow a fear of “failure”, disappointment or heartbreak to stop you from working to gain something incredible. Denying who you truly are and what your soul aches to have to please others is the worst kind of self betrayal. Being authentic and transparent is the only way we can breathe, and breath is life.
3. Mind your tribe
Make no mistake: who you surround yourself with matters and the vibe in your tribe will enhance or poison your life. Protecting your mental health and creating a space where you can thrive and help others do the same is not selfish, it’s a matter of healthy self-preservation. Appreciate the friends, family members and partners who bring good energy, support, love, integrity, honesty and respect into your life and don’t don’t be afraid to walk away from people who don’t share your values. Just remember it goes both ways. It’s your responsibility to be mindful of your own energy and to give what you want to receive. We choose to be in one another’s lives and that’s worth being a world class friend/partner to the great people who choose to stand beside you.
4. Honor your word.
I was raised by a man who took his word very seriously. My grandfather did what he said he would do and one of the things he would remind me of most often was that my word was my “bond”. “Be a person of your word. It is the basis of integrity and without it, you have nothing,” he would say. As a child, I didn’t quite understand just how deeply this sentiment would impact me or how badly those who didn’t live by this motto would hurt me. People use all kinds of words to make promises and argue facts, but how many of them actually follow-up with synergistic action? Too few. When you are who you say you are, do what you say you will do, and are where you say you will be, you elevate your life and every relationship in it. You earn a reputation as a reliable, responsible and truthful person. Bottom line: Say what you mean and do what you say you will do and you’ll have much less drama. Simple.
5. Leave a legacy you can be proud of.
This is a big one for me. I may not change the world or find a cure for a debilitating disease, but I do believe that all of us can change the lives of those around us by offering kindness, understanding, support and acceptance on a consistent basis. Though our current global environment tends to exploit and promote things like instant gratification, self-celebration, and celebrity for the sake of likes, there is nothing like watching someone you believe in achieve their goals and grow more confident and empowered as a result of your guidance, time and/or support. My greatest dream in life is to have a family and be a mother, but regardless of whether or not that happens, I can always feel grateful to have been a mentor to a small group of women who have told me that I have helped them achieve their individual dreams.
Thanks, Brenda! Stay tuned for more Five Rules installments.
“Five Rules,” is a series on Rouge18 in which I ask others to share their five rules for life about anything and everything. You can learn a lot about a person by reading which five things govern their actions, no?