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Learning The Lessons

The school of Sex and the City is in session…
 
Fun fact: it’s been 20 years since the iconic TV series Sex and the City first premiered on HBO. Boy, how time flies.
 
I was a little late jumping on the SATC bandwagon, but when I fell for the show, I fell hard and fast. Each character spoke to me in a different way: I connected with Charlotte’s eternal optimism and unwavering belief in the power of love, Samantha inspired me to live life to the fullest and ignore the naysayers, and Miranda reminded me that sometimes I have to get out of my head and into my heart.
 
Fast-forward to today, and fans and critics alike argue the series hasn’t stood the test of time – the lack of diversity in the cast is just one glaring example. But there were also many timeless moments, and for me, one of those moments came during the 2008 big-screen adaptation. While sitting at a bar with her assistant (played by Jennifer Hudson), Carrie imparts a sage piece of advice: “Enjoy yourself. That’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are to learn the lessons. Your 40s are to pay for the drinks.”
 
As a 30-something gay man, I’m still learning the lessons and I’ve come across a few that are definitely worth sharing. So listen up…school is in session.
 
You matter
It’s been said that the simplest lessons are often the hardest ones to learn, and that is especially true when it comes to believing in our own self-worth. The simple truth is: we all want to be seen and heard. What we think, what we feel, what we say, matters. Who we are matters. You matter. I matter. We all matter. And if we matter, that means we have to learn to put ourselves first and fill ourselves up before we can be of service to anyone else. It’s like what spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant says: “You know: ‘My cup runneth over.’ What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine. But I’ve got to keep my cup full.”
 
When was the last time you put yourself first or did something special for yourself just because? If you have to think about it, it’s been too long.
 
Be the hero of your own story
I come from a long line of storytellers – and I’m a storyteller at heart – but sometimes the stories I tell myself don’t serve me well. While owning our stories is a critical component for cultivating self-awareness, our stories can also keep us stuck, and no one can write the ending to our story except for us. We all know people who operate under the misguided belief that one day their prince will come along and make everything better. Perhaps you’re one of those people. If you’ve been waiting for someone to come save you, stop waiting. They’re not coming. There’s no knight in shining armour or fairy godmother with a magic wand. Life isn’t a fairytale and you’re not Snow White. Save yourself and be the hero of your own story.
 
Who would you be without your story? If you don’t like the story you’ve been telling yourself, it might be time to change it.
 
Follow the light
As a little kid, I loved the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” I love it just as much, if not more, today. The thing about the light, though, is that we don’t always stand in it. More often than not we find ourselves standing in the shadows, or completely in the dark. But just because we don’t see the light doesn’t mean it isn’t there. In a world rife with discord and division, we can’t forget that when faced with a challenging choice or difficult decision, we can pick the most loving option. Not the most popular or most convenient or most comfortable, but the most loving. We can always choose to come back and follow the light and when we do, we’ll shine just as bright.
 
What makes you light up? Whatever it is, embrace it, honour it and share it with the world.
 
Looking back on it, Sex and the City was a groundbreaking series that didn’t get it all right all the time. It was perfectly imperfect, just like each of us. Learning to be okay with being perfectly imperfect is another lesson we could all stand to learn.
 

 
JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-based writer/PR & communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter @Jumol.
 

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