By Rachael L.
As one of the main characters in Amanda’s first book High Doses of Obsession (whose only hard-copy edition sits lovingly on my bookshelf), I thought it was only fitting that my suggestion for her ’30 things’ list would be for her to write another book. But Dave already beat me to it, and just about every other idea I had was taken too. Lacking in creativity (and yes, being rather indecisive), I couldn’t think of anything else so asked her to find someone else to contribute.
With 30 being a looming milestone for so many of my friends (and sadly for me too), I started to notice how it was becoming a time for reflection. But everyone seemed to be reflecting about all they things they hadn’t accomplished or wouldn’t achieve by the time they turned 30. A bunch of Negative Nellies
I thought Chris’s challenge for Amanda to spend a weekend in solitude was the perfect time for some self-reflection. Anyone who knows Amanda knows that she is full of love, compliments and great advice for her friends, but tends to be the self-deprecating type when it comes to herself.
Being a bit of a Positive Polly, I set Amanda a little bonus challenge – to reflect positively on herself and to think about some of the things she likes about herself and the things she’s good at. 30 of them, in fact.
I wanted her to see herself the way that we all see her – a generous, loyal and loving friend who is incredibly smart and talented in so many ways. And not focus on the things she wasn’t.
When you’re young, you think 30 is so old. As an 18 year-old backpacker in Europe, I remember being amazed that the 30 year-old woman on my tour was actually great fun, probably the biggest party animal of us all and that she was actually turning 30. She seemed so… young?
Like so many of us, Amanda always had a clear picture of how life would be at 30. Grown up – married, a couple of kids, the house, the car… the PLAN. But life isn’t about following a plan. Woody Allen once famously said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Whatever your religious inclination, I think Woody might be on to something.
I wanted Amanda to see that just because she wasn’t married (she almost is!) or hadn’t yet babies or ticked off some other major life goal she’d set herself, there are so many other incredible things about her. Not what’s she’s done or hasn’t done but who she actually is as a person. (Don’t even get me started on what she has done! This is one high achiever!)
Looking inside and admitting these things about yourself certainly isn’t and can’t be easy. We live in an environment where we’re taught to excel and strive to be the best we can be – but to talk about our successes is often seen as being ‘up yourself’. We downplay compliments (Oh, this old thing?!), and unless we’re going for a job, we don’t promote ourselves and our skills and qualities.
Couple that with the physical ideal that so many of us dangerously aspire to, and we end up talking about all the things we want to change about ourselves, rather than the things we actually like. The latest viral installment of the Dove Real Beauty campaign saw a sketch artist draw women based only on how they described themselves. The images were ugly and unrecognisable. They were then contrasted by the artist drawing the women as they were described by someone else. Suddenly the likeness between the portraits and the subjects became realistic.
This challenge was very personal and when I asked Amanda to do it, I wasn’t sure she’d even do it, let alone publish it. But I’m so glad she did. It was incredibly brave to admit those things, both to herself and in the public domain.
Every single thing on those lists is true and something Amanda should be proud of. I can vouch for all of those wonderful qualities and could easily add many more to the list. She got skiiiiills, they’re multiplying!
I apologise for the overly preachy nature of this blog entry, I’m not usually quite so Dr Phil-like. And I’m also sorry for setting such an arduous task – eight certainly is a lot of legs David! But Mandii, I’m so proud of for coming up with 60 amazing things about you and hope that this helps you see the reasons we all love you.
Turning 30 or reaching any other milestone makes us all take stock of life. Of where we are, where we want to be, who we are and what we’ve accomplished – or haven’t. While we will always aspire to be more, have more and do more – Amanda, I hope this little self-review has shown that you’re deserving of the critics’ rating: 10 pumpkins!