How To Avoid Making Yourself Feel Like Crap
The main thing I’ve tried to learn this year is avoiding things that I know will make me feel bad. Whether it be avoiding certain people, situations, drugs, foods, or even cities, I’m trying to develop some sort of learning curve. It’s harder than I thought. When you’re young, you don’t really familiarize yourself with the word “NO” because you’re still figuring things out. There comes a point, however, when you become old enough to know better. The excuses dry up, the apologizes wear thin. You need to start becoming accountable for your actions.
It sounds stupid, doesn’t it? For some people, they make a mistake once and move on, vowing to never repeat it again. They cut off bad exes, they stop drinking so much, they cut out toxic friends. But for most, I feel like it’s not that easy. As humans, we’re always on this quest to better ourselves. Why else do you think self-help books sell so many copies and organized religion is so popular? People like to turn to others for guidance. We like having our actions explained to us in a relatable way and then be given a solution to our problems. A lot of this is shame-based. We feel so guilty all of the time, which in turn, allows us to actually make the same mistakes over and over again. Guilt never got anyone anywhere productive. But it’s profitable. Boy, is it profitable! Any person can claim to have insight and authority over any given subject and rise to power. I mean, hello, cults! When seeking to improve your life, it seems best to avoid all of the comparisons and the outside noise and just look to yourself. Oh wait, I think I just became a self-help book.
Here’s the thing: We all want to be the best version of ourselves. At 30 years old, we want to be able to look back at our wayward youth and say, “Wow! I can’t believe the things I used to do. Thank god that’s over with!” We want to have our wild days and make mistakes just so one day we can feel removed from it and see our own growth. But it doesn’t always seem to work that simply, does it? Certain mistakes and destructive behaviors seem to stick to us like glue. When I’m able to see a positive change in my life, it’s usually very subtle and often not conscious. For example, I smoked weed occasionally for eight years and never enjoyed it. Each time I would smoke, I would ask myself why I even did it. The other day though I realized I hadn’t smoked pot in six months and I had no intention of doing so anytime soon. I finally accepted that it wasn’t for me and moved on but I didn’t realize it until the other day. The change just snuck up on me. Instead of beating myself up every tine I smoked, I just let it evolve naturally and fade away from my life. It was cool to be able to see that positive change. It made me realize that I needed to chill out and let certain things take its course.
Whenever I get upset about where I am in my life, I need to remind myself that life isn’t like TV and the movies. Story arcs can’t be wrapped up neatly with a ribbon. People change gradually instead of over the course of three episodes. When I put it in those terms, it makes me feel okay. It makes me feel better about eating that crappy food the other night and wasting a day in bed instead of being productive. Things are changing for the better. They just don’t present themselves with a giant “TA-DAW!” like I want them to.
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It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.