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Montaigne On 24 Life Lessons She’s Learned In Her 24 Years

Written by Montaigne on September 2, 2019

Montaigne‘s new album Complex is out now. Crafted over a three year period, each song on the record reflects a different period in the introspective artist’s life throughout that time. Themes of loneliness, distorted love narratives, self-image and self-realisation are all approached, delivered with articulation and tenderness in equal measure.

As Complex is released to the world, we thought we’d ask Montaigne to share with us some of the life lessons she’s picked up in her 24 years – from meditations on empathy, to love, relationships, identity and the importance of setting boundaries. Read her insights below.

I’d like to start with the caveat that these are lessons relevant to ME and MYSELF and I am addressing the lessons that have come to mean something to me. They may not be true at all for you. I am NOT a qualified Adviceologist and so please take all of this with a grain of salt. Gracias.

Life Lesson One.

It is both reasonable and necessary to have personal boundaries for yourself as regards work, relationships, or anything else. A graciously but firmly and clearly conveyed “no” is a holy, healthy thing.

Life Lesson Two.

Your physical energy is a vital asset and it is important that you take its preservation and reservation seriously. If you don’t have energy you can’t put your best effort into the things that matter in your life. It’s better to miss out on a few opportunities that require your labour or energy if it means you have the energy to really show up for the things that matter. Knowing your “no” comes in handy here. See Lesson One.

Life Lesson Three.

Often people who cast judgment or aspersions on certain things you do or like or feel etc are projecting or trying to deflect the vulnerable feeling that the subject fills them with. While it is perfectly reasonable to feel hurt when someone is being nasty to you – and you ought to allow yourself to feel that hurt – also don’t forget that someone else probably made them feel as bad as they’re making you feel, and with that awareness you have the power to break the chain of hurt.

Life Lesson Four.

Empathy will be required of you when it feels impossible to empathise. But it is possible to learn how to do it. It will take a lot of time and a lot of inner work to accomplish though.

Life Lesson Five.

Having free time is an immense privilege. Do not take it for granted. And that doesn’t mean fill your free time with things to do always! Just be grateful. Don’t forget that there are people out there who would kill for a moment to just sit and think or do nothing or have some leisure. There are people out there who have to work their asses off to survive and don’t have the time to rest or work on skills they want to develop or just enjoy themselves. Free time is gold.

Life Lesson Six.

Your romantic relationships will never be simple. Ever. Be suspicious if they are simple. Life is messy and people don’t slot perfectly into each other. Let go of the expectation that any relationship can ever come together smoothly or seamlessly.

Life Lesson Seven.

Life is best lived fuelled by the fire of curiosity. If you have it, don’t let anyone stop you from using it.

Life Lesson Eight.

Everything in moderation. Work hard but rest and recover to a degree commensurate with the work. Be social and maintain relationships but carve out time for yourself.

Life Lesson Nine.

Your feelings about things are ever-evolving. Bad feelings always pass, as do good ones. Nothing is permanent. The thought can be dejecting, but what keeps you around is deciding what it is you’re living for, the things that give you meaning. Make sure you make time to evaluate and re-evaluate what your values are, and what you can do to live by them.

Life Lesson Ten.

Being kind, open, and compassionate can be vulnerable, but it’s worth it.

Life Lesson Eleven.

Boundaries prevent you from being taken advantage of, if you do choose to be kind, open and compassionate.

Life Lesson Twelve.

Certain things that come naturally to you don’t come naturally to other people. Sometimes you will feel impatient or not understand why they can’t operate in the way you do but again, try to exercise empathy and patience. Everyone is different.

Life Lesson Thirteen.

You have the right to be individualistic and to style yourself as such but never forget that you are a citizen of a world full of other human beings with dignity and the same fundamental desires as you – your needs and wants are no more important than theirs, and you should exercise humility, respect and grace accordingly.

Life Lesson Fourteen.

It is human to think and think long. Presence is (justifiably) valorised in many wellness communities and is indeed an important part of maintaining a healthy mind, but don’t judge yourself too much if you find yourself unable in a given moment to keep a clear mind and not get caught up in some train of thought. Thinking, stress and worrying leads to problem-solving which is good. By the same token, it is good to try to draw the line before you amble into monkey mind and drown in your emotions.

Life Lesson Fifteen.

You are allowed to do things because they are fun, and not for any other reason. You are allowed to do things for their own sake. If everything becomes a puzzle to solve, when you run out of puzzles to solve, you’re going to be looking straight into the void, which is a place you and I know is terrifying, lonely, and empty.

Life Lesson Sixteen.

Solitude is essential to a healthy mind. It is essential to creative thought. It is essential to knowing yourself. Make time for solitude.

Life Lesson Seventeen.

Present standards for beauty were created by advertising companies trying to sell you their products. The body image issues of people the world round are not necessary, were not built into the human psyche, but have been engineered by the drive for profit. It is perfectly okay to engage with the consumer culture economy has created, but know that you are beautiful just as you are. You will ultimately be much better off and much more resilient if you make an effort to internalise that kind of self-belief.

Life Lesson Eighteen.

A sense of humour goes a super long way. Sometimes things are so terrible that all you can do is laugh and that is a valid way to deal with things.

Life Lesson Nineteen.

Everything Brené Brown has ever said is really good and you should regularly return to her wisdom and research.

Life Lesson Twenty.

There are different friends for different seasons and different interests and different emotional tenors. There will never be one person, not even a romantic life partner, who will be able to fulfil your every need and want. It takes a village to be loved and whole.

Life Twenty One.

Most worthwhile things in life require a great amount of sunk costs. Things often keep increasing in their goodness after you’ve gotten past their toughest bits. This includes conflict or tension in relationships.

Life Twenty Two.

I’m gonna reinforce the idea of humility: being able to take guilt or the state of being wrong, acknowledging and living with it, and then being able to concede that you’re wrong and apologise for being defensive/offensive without proper cause is actual magic. It is tough, scary magic, but it’s magic. Being able to do that is also a good litmus test when you’re going through conflict with someone. If they respond with equal mercy and forgiveness to your concession, they’re probably keepers for life. If they respond with sanctimony or try to milk more guilt out of you, you should probably take a step back from that relationship.

Life Twenty Three.

Looking up at the stars at night, no matter how concealed they are by the light of a dirty city, never gets old.

Life Twenty Four.

Life is terrible and wonderful and it is terrible because it is wonderful and it is wonderful because it is terrible.

Montaigne’s new album Complex is out now and her Complex national tour kicks off this November. Head here for details.

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