I may be wrong, but I have found that growing up — and hell, even just being a human being in this world — not only brings you a lot of questions, but also a lot of answers. And no, I am not talking ‘what language is the best to have a shag, hence: which new language should I learn?’ – ‘Oh, Spanish. Spanish, no question’. No, I am talking little things I have found out about myself which help me on a daily basis. I hope they can help you too.
1. Know your limits.
There is a difference between that perfect, sugar-coated idea of yourself and your actual self. It is my belief that most of the time, whenever we feel lonely, discouraged, or simply sad, we make it double as bad because we beat ourselves down: why am I feeling so low? Shouldn’t have I learnt better than this at my age? The truth is, you shouldn’t. You never fully do! So try to identify that idealized version of yourself and, whenever you feel like it is the reason for your suffering, tell yourself that it is okay not to be like that. Having limits is part of human nature, but knowing your limits and appreciating them is what makes you a better human being.
2. Stop belittling pain.
While this is certainly not an exhortation to feel sorry for yourself at any opportunity, I want to make a point of treating pain with respect. Any type of pain, coming from anybody. And this is true on two levels: the fact that you may have suffered incredibly in the past does not make a kid’s pain from a toothache any less important, just like the fact that you are now crying over a broken heart is not stupid because there is famine in Africa. How do you know that what seems so insignificant to you is not in fact killing someone else, because it means a lot in their life? Likewise, why would you assume that your suffering is pointless just because ‘there are worse things in life’? Worse for whom, when, how and where? Each and every one of us experiences pain in a different way, and knowing the value of your pain as an element of growth is one of the main lessons we can learn.
3. Know the value of vulnerability.
We struggle to understand this, but being vulnerable is one of the main starting points of the good things that happen to us. Think about it. A love story begins with two people trusting each other, thus putting themselves in a vulnerable position. Same goes for a job: you start something new, maybe leaving something behind, and you are vulnerable. You buy a house, you go on a trip somewhere far, you move to a new city: vulnerable, vulnerable, and vulnerable. Sometimes, yes, these decisions don’t turn out great. But if we don’t learn that we need to let ourselves be vulnerable, and there is nothing wrong with it, we are going to miss out.
4. 90% of the time, the scenario you play in your head is worse than reality.
So that friend has not texted you back for a whole day after you ditched them; that pain in your arm won’t leave you alone; that recruiter from your dream job has not called in three days already. Does this mean that your friend is mad at you, that you have an incurable illness and that that recruiter has picked someone else? Could it not simply mean that your friend was tremendously busy, that you have a slight shoulder inflammation and that the recruiter was caught up in that giant three-day storm in New York City and left with no electricity? This may sound crazy, but these three stories are all real and have happened to me. You can admit it: how many times have the scenarios you played in your head ever fully corresponded to reality? And when were they actually better than reality itself? True, a lot of times we act optimistically and become disappointed. However, always playing apocalyptic scenarios in our heads does not make our lives better. So whenever you’re tempted to do it, take a breath and quickly think of all the times it was less bad than what you imagined.