1. Trying to make everyone else happy.
I used to try to make everyone else happy. My friends, my parents, teachers, random people. It was exhausting. I never even thought about my own happiness because that somehow didn’t matter. My “job” was to make and keep other people happy. Of course, now I know that not only can I not make everyone else happy, I can’t make anyone else happy. The only person I can MAKE happy is me.
2. Listening to what other people say you should do with your life.
Lots of people seem to have exact ideas of what other people should do with their lives, but when you ask them about their own… they falter. Other people aren’t you. Other people don’t have to live with the consequences of your choices. Other people don’t have to pick themselves up after your mistakes. What would happen if you stopped listening to other people and started listening to you?
3. Living in the past or future.
Living in the past means I’m living in regret. Living in the future means I’m living in anxiety. Learning from the past means I’m becoming wiser. Being excited for the future means I’m doing what I need to do now to make that exciting future happen.
4. Refusing to learn from mistakes.
How many times have you made the same mistakes? How many times will you have to make them before you learn from them? How much more pain do you think you deserve?
5. Holding on.
How many times have I done this? Man. So many. Lots of my examples of holding on involve women, and relationships, and sex. I hold on even though I know it’s over. But why? Well, I know why. It’s because I’m scared. Scared that I won’t find anything better. Scared that I’m making a mistake. Scared to let go because I know it will hurt. I’m scared to let go even though I know holding on isn’t worth it.
I used to be a worrier. It makes me laugh now because I used to actually say the words “I just always worry about things.” Man. Poor me. I love you, younger me. If I had to ask that younger me a question right now I’d say this: “how exactly does worrying help you?”
7. Acting on your thoughts and feelings.
I am not my thoughts and I am not my feelings. It seems so simple now that I wonder how I didn’t get it before. There’s no obligation to do something just because I think of doing it. There’s no obligation to do something just because I feel like doing it, or I feel like I have to do it. Knowing this is self-awareness.
8. Following anyone.
You’re you. They’re them. Why follow?
9. Spending time with people you don’t love or who don’t love you.
I used to spend time with people I didn’t love and people who didn’t love me because I thought I had to. Because we’d been friends for ages. Or because we were family. Those are just excuses. Nobody is required to spend time with anybody else. We get to choose. I love being around my friends now because I love them and they love me. It’s a complete feeling and I never want to settle for less than that.
What do you get out of pretending to be someone you’re not? Do you think you’re protecting yourself? Are you worried about the real you being judged? And what if you’re the real you and things still don’t work out for you? Not pretending might be the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. That moment where I realised “wow… I can be me” was one of the happiest moments of my life. Pretending isn’t important. Being me is more important than anything.