Life seems so easy when you’re little. Up and down. Left and right. Black and white. You don’t have much to question and everything seems to fall into place.
Then you grow up and realize the world is a lot more complicated than you thought. You get tossed about by life and are left feeling battered and confused.
This isn’t what it’s like in the fairytales…
Ignorance might be short-term bliss, but sticking your head in the sand won’t protect you from reality.
Life’s hard truths can be uncomfortable.
Still, facing and accepting these truths head on makes you better prepared and more able to navigate challenges that you’ll no doubt face.
Ready to face those uncomfortable truths?
Let’s get started:
1) Not everything will go according to plan
Do you remember, aged 5, what you told people you wanted to be when you grew up?
Was it a vet/doctor/astronaut?
Are you in whatever profession your 5-year-old heart was set upon? If so, congratulations. But you’re probably a bit of an anomaly.
We have big dreams, we set big goals, and whilst aiming for the stars will open more doors and propel you further, things don’t always go according to plan.
2) People will come and go
Friends, partners, family members, pets.
People will enter your life and change it for the better (or worse), but will usually not be around forever.
Learning to let go and appreciate the time you shared with people who have impacted you for the better will mean that you can embrace meeting new people. And you can also avoid the suffering of clinging on to people whom you can never force to stay.
3) And a lot of them will be quite selfish (including yourself)
No one likes to admit that they’re selfish.
However, realizing that people put themselves first will save you a lot of grief in worrying about people’s actions or motives.
You’ll also be the selfish one at certain points. Sometimes you need to put yourself first. Sometimes it’s also good to detect when you’re being a little too selfish and need to think about how you’re impacting other people.
4) Life can be lonely at times
You can be surrounded by people and still feel alone. Studies also show that loneliness ebbs and flows throughout life.
Accepting that you’ll go through periods of feeling more lonely than usual and being patient as opposed to panicked means you’ll be less prone to feeling distraught when these periods do occur.
5) But it’s better to be alone than with someone who makes you feel lonely
If you’re in a period of loneliness, it can be tempting to reach out or cling to the wrong people. Or partners.
It’s a common misconception that being part of a couple means you’ll never feel lonely again.
But wasting time on relationships that are one-sided or with people who leave you feeling unappreciated is never a good solution to loneliness.
The best decision you can make is to prioritize yourself, learn to enjoy your own company, and spend quality time with yourself. Do that, and the right people will come.
6) You’re responsible for your own happiness
Much in the same way as we falsely believe that being in a relationship will solve our loneliness, we also can start relying on friends or partners to make us happy.
Bad news. You’re the one in charge of your emotions and your happiness.
Whilst healthy relationships can improve us and make us better people, at the end of the day, we’re the ones responsible for our happiness. Not anyone else.
Relying on other people will only cause dependency issues and grief to everyone involved.
7) You can do your best and still fail
You can try your absolute best, learn the right skills, and try every path and still not get to where you want to be going. Some things are just beyond your control.
Still, failure never means giving up.
Often, one closed door means another open door you just haven’t yet spotted.
8) Money does actually equal happiness
At least up to earnings of $500k.
As tough as it is to admit, we all need to make a living. Sometimes that means making difficult choices and sacrificing dreams or things we care about.
Daniel Kahneman’s 2010 study suggested that happiness peaked at an annual income of $75k. This led to a lot of parroting about how money can’t buy happiness.
To an extent, it’s also true. A new watch or the latest model of car won’t give you the same fulfilment as long lasting relationships and finding contentment elsewhere.
However, before you start chortling away and laughing at the rich and unhappy on their superyachts, recent research suggests that money does appear to boost happiness.
9) Not everyone will like you
A killer for the people pleasers out there, but great to learn and accept as early as possible.
You won’t mesh with everyone.
Sometimes, for reasons unbeknownst to you, people will take an active dislike to you. And that’s okay.
You can’t and won’t get on with absolutely everyone.
The time you spend trying to assess why or win them over is time that could be better spent elsewhere.
10) Life isn’t always fair
Bad things happen to good people. You can volunteer in soup kitchens and feed scrawny pigeons and be a source of radiant positivity for everyone around you, and still feel like life is out to get you sometimes.
Like loneliness, good things come and go in waves.
Don’t overthink it when you’re met with a bout of bad experiences. This often means that the good is just around the corner.
11) Doing the same things everyday will mean you stay in the same place
Monotony and the comfort zone can feel delightfully safe, but will often not be very helpful in driving you to better places.
Push yourself to try new things and get comfortable with being uncomfortable – only this way will you learn and grow.
12) You can’t change the past
We can learn from the past, reflect on the past, and heal from our past, but you shouldn’t be living there.
You can’t change what has already happened, so don’t waste time grieving what could have been.
Instead, seize the present and consider what you can invest your time into today.
13) Sometimes it’s too late
I wholeheartedly do not want to discourage you from reaching out and trying to make amends with people you’ve hurt, but the sad truth is that it’s sometimes just too late.
It’s too late to say sorry.
It’s too late to wish you’d spent more time with that person.
It’s too late to wish you’d put more effort into that project.
Instead of getting stuck in a loop of what-could-have-been, learn from this.
Remember to spend more time with those you love, apologize readily when it’s your fault, give everything your all.
14) You never know what will happen tomorrow
I lost my dad in an unexpected accident overnight.
I spent a lot of time getting stuck on the above truths.
I’ve been stuck in the past.
I’ve spent lots of time dwelling on what could have been.
I’ve beaten myself up about how I could have been better.
I’ve questioned why life is so unfair.
At the end of the day, you never know what will happen tomorrow. You might win the lottery. You might also lose someone that you care about.
I’m not telling you to stay on your guard and sleep with one eye open, but be aware that good things and bad things can happen out of nowhere.
Just remember to tell the people you care about that you love them.
The truth of it…
Life won’t go as planned. The sooner you accept this, the more prepared you’ll be for when this does happen.
You can set 5-year goals, 10-year goals, invest in projects, and cling on to people, but often things won’t turn out how you expect them to.
Things change, you’re met with failure, people leave, and you’ll feel lonely.
Confronting these uncomfortable truths will mean you’re able to accept the present and weather the storms of life. Living a life of denial and pretending everything is okay won’t get you where you’re supposed to be.
Instead, accept that good and bad things happen unexpectedly, often beyond your control. It’s tough, but being (optimistically) realistic is always better than lying to yourself.