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  • Jacqueline Siempelkamp

A Therapist Turns Thirty: Thirty Hot-Takes on Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my thirtieth birthday—a milestone birthday that draws the line between figuring things out and having more experience in life. Getting older is a fun surprise because when you’re young you think one day, you’ll have it all figured out and now I know that no one ever will. It’s impossible to know everything and while that’s true, I do think that we can learn so much if we continue to be open to doing so.

As a therapist I’ve had the privilege of learning from professors, supervisors, mentors, colleagues, and most importantly my clients. I get a glimpse into the human experience from many different perspectives: various ages, different hardships and success, many stages in life; you name it. Throughout my work thus far I notice that while I see so many differences in people, I also see common threads in all of us too. We can all relate to one another much more than we may expect, and I’d like to share what I’ve found.

Here are thirty hot-takes on mental health and emotional wellbeing:

1. Wisdom doesn’t have an age – Kids, teens, and young people have a fresh perspective we may have not considered. Those in later adulthood can share a perspective we may have overlooked. We all have something to share and so much can be gained by giving someone a chance.

2. Time is the most precious thing we have – It’s the only thing we can’t get more of, and we can’t do anything about it. We need to remember to cherish our time and make the most of it now.

3. Movement matters more than you think – Humans were not meant to spend this much time being sedentary. It’s tough to find time between school and work, but it is imperative that we get up from our chairs a little more often. Small steps first: think walking around the room, taking the stairs, parking further away in the parking lot, etc.

4. Everything changes – for better or worse – Life is always in flux. Don’t believe me? Look at a year ago…I’m sure a ton has changed, and you may not have realized it while it was happening. Remember that this moment will pass, so either cherish it or remind yourself that it won’t always be this way.

5. Finding contentment is how we survive – The situation at hand probably isn’t perfect or anywhere near. It is crucial that we find ways to be content with what we have—not to say we can’t strive for more, but not being able to see the good in imperfection will lead to unhappiness more often than we’d like.

6. Sometimes it is out of our control – It’s true. Sometimes we simply can’t do anything about it and that’s okay. We can learn to be comfortable with things being out of our hands.

7. Sometimes we can do something about it – On the other hand, sometimes we CAN do something about it and we don’t know how. Or we feel like we can’t. Or we’re afraid. Take a look and make sure you aren’t getting in your own way.

8. Fear is paralyzing – Being afraid can make us feel helpless, hopeless, stuck. I challenge you to lean into fear, even for a moment. You are so much stronger and capable than you think. Being pushed out of your comfort zone is a surefire way to surprise and show what you can do.

9. Contemplation takes the most time – Sometimes we spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing. After you’ve considered your options take the leap—don’t let yourself get stuck contemplating and wishing you were acting.

10. The present is the only place we can be – We wish we could change the past and worry about the future. When we’re concerned about places in time we physically cannot be, we’re stealing time from ourselves that we could be using to seize the present moment.

11. One person is all it takes to make a difference – You just need one person to confide in and connect with. One person to hear you. One person to see you. Let me tell you—one is so much more than none. Start there.

12. Kindness goes further than niceness – Being kind means to be friendly, considerate, and generous. Being nice is to be pleasant and agreeable. Kindness goes a step deeper than niceness. It feels great to have a genuine willingness to help—it comes from within rather than doing or acting a certain way because it’s good to or you should. Which would you rather be?

13. Resentment only hurts you – So many of us hold onto resentment and just can’t let it go. And I get it. People hurt us, an experience was unfair, we wish something could have been different. You don’t have to forgive anyone or forget what happened—but for your sake, please work towards letting it go and focus on moving forward.

14. Self-respect is imperative – If you don’t respect yourself, who else is going to? Hold your head high and dig deep to find confidence. You deserve to know your worth and surround yourself with others who value you as an individual.

15. Quality over quantity – This goes for everything. Relationships, physical goods, experiences. More is not always better. Spend time finding a good fit versus chasing amounts of something. You won’t feel like you don’t have enough if you’re genuinely happy and content with each thing you have.

16. We only get one body – Many of us trash our bodies, hate our bodies, wish our bodies could be different. We spend so much time trying to change ourselves instead of finding happiness in who we are. Our bodies are our home—we must treat our home with kindness and respect. Our bodies do so much for us and the least we could do is care for it and show it some love.

17. You decide your timeline – Your path is no one else’s decision. While we may feel influenced by others or think we “should” do something a certain way, ultimately the choice is ours. We often have more control than we think and it’s empowering to remember that. It’s your life! Do what you want with it.

18. Calculated risks are worth it – Your situation stays the same if you don’t do anything different. Change often comes from taking risks and we can’t always hesitate to take that risk. Calculate the pros and cons and make a decision. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone—something great may be on the other side!

19. Fresh air can do wonders – A breath of fresh air can be all it takes to reset us. Stepping outside for a few minutes can clear our heads and even ground us when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Make sure to feel the breeze on your skin, smell the air when you breathe in, listen to the sounds around you, and look out at the landscape in front of you.

20. Bad days are part of being human – Sometimes we can’t escape a bad day. No, there’s not something wrong with us. Sometimes a day just isn’t great and that’s okay. We will get through it and hope for a better day tomorrow.

21. People pleasing gets you nowhere – Living for others only is not the way to go. You won’t be happy, you won’t know what you need, and you’ll lose yourself. Consider what you need and want, too. Compromise is the key to healthy relationships—not just doing or saying what you think the other person wants.

22. It’s not always about you – It can be tough to admit, but it’s true. Sometimes we do need to take a backseat to focus on someone else. Sometimes we do focus too much on ourselves or make it about us when we shouldn’t. Be mindful and know when to take a pause. You’d want the same for you.

23. There is often something to be learned – Even when you think you know what there is to know about a situation, you can usually see it from another perspective too. Check in with yourself and challenge whether you are resisting learning more and if there is a roadblock of some sort. Even if the information isn’t what you expected to engage with, you can still gain something from that experience.

24. You may not have met them yet – We go through life thinking that this is it and we’re stuck with our current circumstances. We may feel like we don’t have the relationships we so strongly desire. Here’s a little may not have met them yet. It is so likely that you haven’t yet met that friend that you click instantly with. Or that you haven’t yet met the right person that you want to be in a relationship with. Don’t give up and stay curious—be as open as you can to meeting new people and see what happens next.

25. We don’t know what’s next – It’s comforting to know what’s to come, but the reality is we have no idea. The unexpected is par for the course and once you can accept that you’ll be much happier. Continue to plan, prepare, and know that being flexible is essential because we don’t know what will happen next.

26. Your voice has value – Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and don’t forget it. Speak up because what you have to say matters.

27. Enjoying your own company is essential – There are going to be some moments when we are alone—and that’s a good thing. Use that time to get to know you and explore your interests. Ponder your thoughts and think about your goals. Listen to music or read a great book. There is so much to be said about enjoying time with yourself.

28. Pride gets in the way of progress – Be careful to not get in your own way. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or to get someone’s thoughts on something you’re not sure about. Our success is not only because of ourselves, but the support we’ve gotten along the way.

29. Simple joys make the most impact – Most of life is mundane, so learning to cherish simple joys makes each day something special. There’s true gratitude in being able to enjoy everyday moments in addition to the big blowout ones.

30. You have a purpose – Again, I cannot say this enough. No matter what you believe in, you belong here and you’re here to do something. Chase your calling, find what you love, learn who you are. Your life is worth living and you deserve to see it through.

Throughout these thirty years, I’ve talked with a lot of people and witnessed a lot of perspectives. There are so many ways to look at life and we continue to flip those ways upside down over. One thing about people that serves as a constant is that we highlight and celebrate our differences, I love individuality and I think it’s important to stand out. But one thing we often forget, is to celebrate our similarities. Humans have a heck of a lot in common and recognizing that can help us feel so much more connected and understood. Connection is essential in getting through life together, and we need more of it.

Finally, most things about mental health and emotional wellbeing aren’t black and white. Life exists in the gray, and we need to feel comfortable with that. So, here’s to acknowledging life’s many different moments, thoughts, and emotions.

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