As a young person, whether you are still in high school, graduating college, or find yourself a 20-something in their first or second job out of school, it can be hard to accept who you are. Despite and because of everything, it’s better you learn earlier rather than later the importance of loving and believing in yourself confidently, without judgment.
How and where do you start? Let me guide you through the process.
After a long journey of self-development in my early 20s because of a slew of radical changes, from moving from the Midwest to the East coast, then coming back only to find myself in the place I thought I’d be lost if I stayed, I’ve been to “The Devil Wears Prada” and back, plus three or four too many Mr. Big (and Exceptionally Disappointing)s.
The key takeaways I’ve learned are abundantly clear. Let me share them with you now and save you some time, psychosis, heartbreak, and, hopefully … uber amounts of stress.
1. Do not compare yourself to others
Your success is not someone else’s, and vice-versa. Perhaps your best friend from college just landed their dream job only two years out of school while you’re still “stuck” in the same internship. You can’t compare your experience to theirs, though. You are your own person with your own goals, career aspirations, personal life, and on. You need only worry about yourself. If you feel stuck, if you feel like you are not learning and growing, that is up to you to change, not dependent or because of someone else’s success in their life. Your life is yours, period.
2. Stop giving into the “I should”s
This will get you in so much trouble. Stop believing you should do certain things and do the things you want to instead. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay your bills. Of course you should pay your bills, have annual doctor visits, etc. I’m talking about your desires. If you don’t want to be a nurse, you shouldn’t be, even if your parents are pressuring you because they’ve had three generations of them within the family. You have to be yourself. If you aren’t true to your soul or character, you will be poisoned by your own notions and walk of life. Enrich yourself with a healthier walk. Be lead by the path of the individual — you.
3. Try a bunch of different things
This is how you know what you like and don’t like. That’s pretty clear. It’s okay to learn something isn’t for you. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed when you find this out, but it means you’re that much closer to figuring out who you want to be in the present moment, or who you are. Accept that you will always change and so will life, whether in small or big doses. Change is the only constant. Embrace it as it comes or you allow it in. Your life is up to you! Live it to the best of your ability. Be as much of a chameleon as you like.
4. Stop saying yes to sh*t you hate
Perhaps you find yourself doing this with romantic partners, friends, family members, or even co-workers. If you live an inauthentic life, you produce an inauthentic self, and generate unhappiness daily. That is no way to live. Life should be enjoyed. While there are moments you will find you need to be serious and that not everything is a party, overall, you should strive for two simple things: to be happy and healthy. Millennials being the most anxious generation than any previous, it’s hard to believe this is achieving. It is not underachieving to desire these things. They’re not simple for some people to achieve anyway. Conditional for the individual, happiness and health are admirable qualities to set goals after and behold. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, only that you do it with passion, purpose, wellbeing, and happiness to back you.
5. Do not apologize for being yourself
Insecurity is detrimental for so many reasons. While some of it may come from mental health problems, other insecurities may be caused by our environments, but mostly, the main cause is the high pressure you put on yourself. Stop doing that right now. The world isn’t your responsibility. You are not solely responsible for any one existential problem. That said, not everything is an existential crisis. Do not believe that. Believe in the simplicity and complexities of life. They are co-existent, and how they are inherited is up to your perspective. Be yourself, always, unapologetically. Your uniqueness isn’t special, but it is a gift.
6. Let live, then let go
If you are hurt, ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed, sad, whatever it might be, it’s important you let yourself feel those feelings. It’s hard, but it’s how you learn to cope with your emotions. It’s how you learn to become strong when it comes to dealing with the tough things life throws your way, whether that be heartbreak, job loss, the loss of a loved one, disease, or poverty, there is always a clearing at the end of the thick of the woods. It sounds cliche, but, I assure you, if you put in self-development work, you will find that clearing and learn to live there with genuine balance and clarity. Don’t rush yourself in getting there. There’s no time stamp when it comes to learning and growing in life. Life is always a work in progress.
7. Let yourself be hurt and disappointed
Life isn’t easy. It doesn’t get better. Only you get better. You change your perspective. You adjust your perspective and expectations. The right attitude will get you far. Through trial and error, you will figure out what’s important to you. Though you may be disappointed it’s not what you thought it would be when you were young, you must learn to love the things you now desire. Being adaptable within and outside of oneself is inherently valuable. If you don’t believe me, take cures from Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” — it will change your life.
8. Accept that you are becoming who you are
Don’t fight the person you are becoming. Be the person you want to be. Regardless of others presumed or direct expectations, it could not be truer that the only person you need to please is yourself. The people who care about you most and love you genuinely will want the same thing. They will want you to be happy and healthy — that’s it. That’s the key to beginning a purposeful life, whatever your age, wherever your life, whenever your journey. Be patient with the process. Be patient with yourself. Put yourself first. The rest will fall into place when you learn to accept the beautiful, wonderful you that already is. Listen to yourself. The answers are closer to your gut than you think.