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I’ve written a letter to myself before on this blog as part of my #10 Days of Recovery series. Although I touched on a lot of things in that which I personally wish I’d known when I was younger, there are some other reflections which have recently come to mind.
When we’re young, we tend not to think about the bigger picture. We’re busy running around, getting good grades and just exploring who we are. Sadly that can mean a lot of us spent our teenage years, or even childhood, in a constant state of worry and stress.
1. Life’s too short
“We’re here for a good time, not a long time.” I don’t know who first came up with this quote, but it’s something I always remember my mother-in-law coming out with. She’s right, of course. Our lives are short, our time on this earth is fleeting and we should be doing everything we can to enjoy it while we still can.
I think about my grandmother and grandfather, and how time as running out. For my grandmother, it was after 87 long and happy years, however for my grandfather it as all too soon.
If I stood face to face with my younger self now I would remind her of the fact that people aren’t going to be around forever, and nor am I.
My life is my own, it’s what I want to make of it, and I should enjoy myself to the full while I still can. Fuck anorexia, fuck depression. Go out, spend time with the people you love and eat a god damn burger!
2. Money is not the ultimate goal in life
Money’s nice, but it’s not your only purpose in life. Let’s be honest, when I go it’ll still be here. All those hours you spent in a stressful job, ruining your own health with poor coping strategies and high cortisol levels aren’t worth it just for the six-figure sum.
“You were not born to pay bills and die.” I’ve never heard a truer quote than this one! What’s the point in living if all you’re living for is to make money, pay a mortgage and save, save, save!?
Spend it on the things you want. Take a vacation without counting the pennies and buy that new car!
3. Yoga and mindfulness are important, keep them up
I used to do yoga when I was a teenager and even into my early twenties, but I never stuck with it long. Each time I tried, I would get distracted by something or I couldn’t lend myself the time to actually complete a full workout. As for meditation, it was something I’d tried for five minutes before giving up because it wasn’t working.
What I didn’t realize was that both yoga and meditation take time. They require patience and consistency in order to feel the full, required effect.
4. What other people think is none of your business
I grew up worried about what other people would think of me. Although I never tried to fit in, I was still very anxious about others looking at me, or talking about me. I needed everyone to like me; I was really nice, so why didn’t they like me?
The truth is that I can’t make everyone like me. No matter how hard I try! It’s just impossible.
Therefore I dub 2019 the year that I stop giving a fuck. I’ve lost too much this year in too many ways to care about the opinions of others.
5. Believe in yourself
We all have problems believing in ourselves at some point in our lives, but for me, that’s been my whole life. I’ve never had any self-confidence and struggle to make big decisions by myself for fear that I’ll mess up.
While adopting my new mindset and trying to rebuild my life, I’m quickly discovering that this point is one of the most important on this list for me.
It’s a long hard road. Like everything, it doesn’t happen overnight and at my age, it’s daunting to suddenly develop this belief in my ability to succeed. If I had started when I was younger then maybe it wouldn’t be this hard.
There is no one way to start believing in yourself and your own ability in life. No one size fits all, and the road is often walked alone, with only friends and family offering help along the way.
6. Have compassion
Although I may not always agree with everyone, I always have compassion. I don’t know if it’s always been there as a default but it’s certainly something I’ve been developing lately.
When I first stepped foot into my previous job I told myself “Don’t lose yourself, don’t become hard and skeptic.” But it was nearly impossible not to harden yourself or second guess people in a job that constantly demanded that you had to.
I walked into that job with purpose, excitement, a feminist agenda, and a positive mind. Not two years later I walked out feeling the opposite. Not only had I become a shell of myself, but I had fallen victim to the pessimistic, skeptical, very judgemental mindset that came along with the job.
It took me a while to start building the walls that had come crashing down, but with them, I started to build upon my compassion–not just for others, but for myself too.
It’s important to have compassion for everyone you meet because you have no idea what’s going on in someone else’s personal life.
7. Stand up for yourself or risk losing yourself completely
Be assertive in life but not aggressive. Strong women were not made by shying away from louder, more extroverted people.
Don’t be afraid of your voice or of your ability to say no.
I’ve had issues with standing up for myself for years; however, it was only as I became an adult that I realized it was an issue. It’s caused me to spend hours worrying about meetings, feel sick with panic when asked to challenge someone about their behaviour, and it’s even meant I’ve been the victim of many toxic friendships.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with standing up for yourself in a safe, assertive and non-violent manner.
8. Life isn’t a race
Death is the only certain thing in life. Whether you have a mansion by aged 30 or over a million in your bank account by 60 is irrelevant.
You can get married whenever you want, buy a house when you want and have kids when or if you want.
There’s no set map or guidelines for how you should live your life. Stop trying to follow the crowd.
Who cares if so-and-so is married with two beautiful kids? You’re not, but you know what, you’re doing okay considering. You’ve got a house, you’ve got a cat and a wonderful boyfriend. That’s enough for now and a lot more than some other people have.
You can do whatever you want in life at your own pace.
9. Remember to step back every once in a while
It’s very easy to get caught up in life. We can easily become stuck in our own minds, wearing the ‘blinkers’ of negative thinking and ignoring all the good in our lives. Giving our own problems power only serves in making them seem bigger than they actually are. As you get older this sort of thinking can shift, but as a teenager, it certainly feels like the end of the world!
Take a step back. Stop and smell the coffee. Enjoy the scenic route–however, you want to say it.
Take some time out to re-evaluate your life and get things into perspective.
Your problems will begin to shrink, solutions will begin to crawl out of the cracks and suddenly, our problems might not seem so big anymore!
10. Learn from your suffering
It’s okay to struggle. Don’t hide from it; learn from it!
Life is full of experiences and, in order to lead a full life, you need to be able to brace yourself for everything that’s coming.
Learning from our suffering can better prepare us for harder times to come. Through suffering, we are given the opportunity to adopt new, healthy coping skills, help others by sharing our experiences and add to our personal development.
What do you wish you knew when you were younger? Share in the comments!
My name is Chloe. I write about eating disorders and mental health (among other topics) over on my blog. I've suffered from anorexia for over 13 years and spent about 7 of those in quasi-recovery. It was only after a recent burnout in December of 2018 that I relapsed and decided, once and for all, to get the help I needed. I believe that each and every sufferer has it inside them to reach that point where food is no longer the enemy, and that full recovery is an obtainable goal.
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