• James Hewlett

What I’ve Learned. (Finale pt. 1)

This is it, I’m starting to write this on Sunday April 4th 2021, exactly three years, six months and two days after my first post went live on this silly little website. I don’t have enough time to finish writing this one before going to work tonight and I’m planning or writing this and tomorrows entires back to back as a kind of double header.

I’m trying to not put too much pressure on myself to knock out a banger to close this out but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t on my mind.

I’ve always wanted this to be a natural and honest depiction of my life and mindset at the time, I think thats why I pretty quickly stopped planning too far in advance.

I would still take notes and jot down ideas for posts but I would rarely set definite plans for things unless I had it already finished.

This post is kind of like that, I’ve been making notes for this one for a little while and am going to try and elaborate on all of them into something vaguely satisfying.

It’s been three and a half years since I started this. I look back on who I was then and I barely recognise myself. A lot of stuff has stayed the same, but so much has changed. When I think about those things I’ve come to realise that the bits that have stayed the same are the things that are so deeply ingrained in me that they are basically a part of my DNA, but I’ll get into more of that later.

Today I want to focus on what has changed and more importantly, what I’ve learned. Strap in for some unsolicited ‘wisdom’ from someone who still claims to have no idea what any of it all really means.

People never really grow up, at least, not in the traditional sense of the phrase. I’m in my mid thirties, I read comic books, play video games, build Lego and watch cartoons. It wasn’t that long ago that any of those things would be thought of as weird for a grown ass adult to do without the presence of a child, but now, that is not only acceptable, it’s commonplace amongst my generation.

The stigma that was attached to any hobby or passion has faded beyond obscurity and means that people of all ages can enjoy the things they want without worrying about if it is age appropriate.

Some still get embarrassed admitting their interests and to those people I ask this, why? Who are you trying to impress? Why suppress who you are because you think it helps you fit the mole of what you should be? Be yourself, embrace what you love. You’ll be a lot happier for it.

People come and go. Friends, family, colleagues, spouses, people you don’t really know but took comfort in seeing at a particular time or place regularly, everyone changes and sometimes those changes mean we grow apart from these people. I’ve learnt that trying to cling on desperately to a fractured relationship very rarely works. You are much better off letting the natural course play out and seeing what happens after. Does this mean that you may end up losing close friends, not seeing or speaking to family members or breaking up? Sure, and that sucks. It is not easy and if it’s not painful then it didn’t mean that much to you in the first place. But desperately trying to hold on to something is so much more damaging to your own mental health.

Sometimes a connection you have with someone is like a caterpillar and a butterfly, it changes and becomes something totally different but way better that it was. Other times it’s more like a caterpillar that gets eaten by a bird. The point is that trying to keep it as a caterpillar when it wants to change is the worst thing we can do. This isn’t Pokémon, we can’t press B to stop an evolution.

You have to make your own choices. Don’t be afraid of taking chances, hell, embrace it! Take chances and make mistakes. You’ll learn so much more and probably have more fun along the way. Don’t be overly reckless with your mental well being or that of others, and never intentionally hurt or harm anyone else, but keep an open door policy to any opportunities that come your way and if they aren’t, then make your own!

You should absolutely listen to other people, but learn who’s advice you should take on and who’s is maybe not for you. Try not to be too too harsh on anyone offering advice though, they probably mean well. Just politely move on.

“So I learned, cut out the middle man make it all for everybody, always. Everybody can’t turn around and tell everybody, everybody already knows, I told them.”

I don’t know if it’s applicable for everyone but having gone through everything I have during the course of writing this thing every day I’ve really come to appreciate the freedom of putting it all out there.

Express how you’re feeling, talk it out, don’t bury it or bottle it up, hide it away or ignore it. Whatever it is, let it out. It doesn’t need to be to anyone in particular, for me, putting it all up publicly to anonymous viewers works but for you it might mean talking to a professional, I really do believe therapy is good for everyone and should be considered preventative as much as reactionary. But that therapy might come from taking to a close friend, putting some bullshit on a website or just writing in a book, whatever works for you. Just let it all out.

The same goes for how you’re feeling about other people. If you like someone, tell them. What’s the worst that can happen? The flip side is if you have a problem with someone. If you’re able to, just slip away and distance yourself without making causing any bother. If that’s not possible though you absolutely should talk to them and explain how you’re feeling and why. Maybe that will solve the problem, maybe it will lead to the distance you are probably wanting, but it is a healthier way of dealing with it for everyone involved.

Make sure you take care of yourself above all else. You can’t pour from a leaky cup. Take care of yourself physically and you’ll be amazed at the benefit it has on you mentally. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but make sure it comes from the right sources for the right reasons. Also learn at least a certain level of self reliance, you don’t want to be stuck needing someone else’s help when they might not be in a position to give it. You should be your own biggest helper with others there more as Sherpas helping you when you need it.

Try to live without regret. Good things happen, bad things happen. You may be the cause of or a party to either. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

There are very few feelings that the regret of ‘what if...’ and almost all of those times are avoidable. Don’t put yourself in a position of regretting not doing something, saying something, acting on something.

But when you do fuck up, and you will again no matter how many times you have before, don’t punish yourself for it. If you’ve hurt someone, try to make amends, if you’ve broken something, try and fix it, but most importantly keep moving forward. Don’t linger for too long because the more you do the easier it is to get trapped in your own head and sucked down. It’s a slippy slope with a hard climb back out, but the crossing is worth the risk.

The most important think I think I’ve learned since starting this thing back in 2017 is adaptability. We all find our niches, our comfy spots where we have a level of control over how our lives play out.

What happens when that status quo gets rocked or completely shattered though? You have two choices; try and hold on in vain, wither away and die or adapt, evolve and move on to the next stage.

This applies to every single aspect of our lives and this last year has shown that everyone has to be able to do it. When it is a global thing that requires everyone to adapt in order to sort it out we’ve seen that it’s really fucking hard, but when it is a personal problem you need to have a level of flexibility.

It might feel like the same weight that has currently been spread across seven billion people is all on your shoulders, but for all our many flaws, adaptability is the key to our species becoming as advanced as we have.

That’s enough life lessons, that you for coming to my TEDtalk, please take a flyer on your way out, reception can validate your parking and I’ll be back tomorrow, one last time, to wrap this shit up and talk about me. That’s right I’m getting self indulgent on all y’all asses before the turn the lights out and the band starts playing me off. I’ll see you back here then!


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