I must admit that in terms of Christmas and birthday presents, 2013 was the best year for me. I am now the proud owner of a Pandora charm bracelet and of an e-reader, I will learn how to salsa in eleven lessons and I got to go to The School of Life for the first time.
I’ve been a big fan of Alain de Botton, the founder of The School of Life, since I was in my 20’s and in one of my aimless browsing in a bookshop I found his first book, About Love, and read it in a breath. I am happy to be living in the same city as him and I have no excuse for not going to any of his lectures in London yet. But we did chat a little bit on Twitter. Jealous much? 🙂
So, when my ex boyfriend (the one that dumped on Christmas day, six days before my birthday) got a ticket to The School of Life LIVE as a birthday present, he was sweet enough to buy me one as well, so that we could go together. That was before the break up, of course.
Which means that after the break up, last Thursday, we went to the lecture. Between you and I, he was the right person to join me at such an event. I was and still am at ease with him, I can sit quiet next to him and I don’t feel the need to make conversation or to justify any of my reactions.
Moreover, we have pretty much similar interests and taste so we laughed at the same jokes and we didn’t understand why everybody was laughing, at the same time. We even took notes at the same time, but in a different way. I took notes in my very old, with almost yellow pages but with red silk covers notebook that I found in a charity shop, and he took notes on the back of the program leaflet. I wrote in the most unorganized way possible, because I am an artist, ok? and he wrote clear and with numbers, just like an engineer should. I don’t know if we wrote down the same ideas, I didn’t peek and I didn’t ask, that would have been rude.
It was a weird moment at one point when one of the speakers asked us to hold hands with the people sitting next to us and then asked us if we felt in love. I didn’t even figure out the purpose of that moment as I was extremely busy feeling embarrassed. After all, we only broke up few weeks ago and we didn’t break up because we didn’t like each other, we broke up because…well, I have no idea why we broke up.
Anyway, our favourite speakers at The School of Life LIVE were Anne Karpf and Tazeen Ahmad. Anne Karpf spoke about how to age and I felt I was on the same page with her. I was already doing everything she advised, so her speech was like a confirmation to me.
Therefore, I will keep up on embracing and enjoying my age instead of trying to resist it. Of course, I will never deny myself a little bit of botox, but I promise myself to never let my age slow me down. I will keep learning and do all the things I will fancy doing, either they will be age appropriate or not.
She gave us the example of a 95 year old woman that was volunteering and when she was asked why was she doing it she replied: “For personal growth”. Only death should end your enthusiasm, not the number of your age. I will be personally growing in Bora Bora when I am 95, though.
Tazeen Ahmad spoke about the power of introversion and we both learned, to our surprise, that we were introverts. Apparently, I had a totally wrong idea about what an introvert was. According to Tazeen, being shy is not a characteristic of introversion, but a social anxiety, which can be overcome. Introversion cannot be overcome. Introverts enjoy their personal bubble while being able to be social and work in a team, yet they can accomplish more on their own.
For example, if you would rather send your ideas over email than expressing them in a brainstorming session, you are an introvert. If you need to think before you speak, if you express better in writing than face to face, you are an introvert.
So finally, my need for solitude was explained. Like Tazeen said, “I’m never less alone than when I am alone”. I remember the times when I was trying to go out every single day, because everyone thought it was weird to stay home by myself and my trying so hard to be what I wasn’t left me so frustrated. Apparently, you can try be both an extrovert and an introvert, but you’ll do none of them well and you’ll exhaust yourself.
The last speaker at The School of Life LIVE was Oliver James, the author of Affluenza. He spoke about how to create emotional health.
The first thing you have to do is to try to always live in the present. I’ve started to force myself doing this for almost an year now, it is getting easier and easier but I still have moments when my mind starts wandering and I need to drag myself into the present. Being hooked to the past or not enjoying your present because of “what if” questions, concerning a future which is not even real, can make you miss big chunks your life. Because your life is here and now and it is not a rehearsal, this is it, as Oliver James pointed out. And I totally agree with him, I dealt with both situations and all I had left were regrets. Lucky me I am an optimist! I changed my regrets into lessons and now I know better: my life is right here, right now. Past is gone, as for the future, I’ll deal with it when it’s here.
What also helps in building your emotional health is communicating, working on yourself on the inside, being playful, vivacious and authentic. And the most important thing is to understand how your childhood affected you. Understanding it won’t change it, of course, what’s done it’s done but it will help you accept both your past and who you are because of your past. I have a feeling I’ll make some shrinks really rich in the future. But I will think about it in the future, now I am here, in the present, with no money for shrinks so why worry, really?