1. Who you’ve chosen to be with in the past.
You are allowed to fall for more than one person in your life. And your first love doesn’t define how you will act with your second, third, or fourth love, so maybe it isn’t even worth it to keep count. The people you’ve been with before don’t have any influence over who you will choose next. Of course, there’s always the chance that you will repeat past mistakes, or be attracted to the same qualities you went for three years ago, but you have the power to change all of this, if you want to.
2. How the people in your past have treated you.
Your past relationships may define how you approach future ones; they can make you more guarded, more hesitant, more reserved. But if you’ve been hurt before, that doesn’t forever mark you as someone who has been hurt. Past pain doesn’t define your present.
3. How much money you make.
Once you join the workforce, you start to realize just how competitive you can get with your peers. And you can start to define your own value based on how the people around you are doing. If your close friend works half as hard as you, but makes twice the money, it pushes you to question your own worth. But the numbers on your paycheck don’t say anything about who you are, or how hard you work, nor does it define your career success.
4. What you did in the year or two after you graduated college.
What you are doing a month after graduation is not an indication of how your life is going to unfold. It does not define your future, nor does it give any commentary on where you are going. When your peers make you feel like you’re falling behind because you haven’t moved anywhere new yet, and you haven’t figured out what mark you want to make on the professional world, don’t assume you’re defined by that. Your first steps after school can affect your career trajectory if you want them to, but they don’t have to.
5. The apologies you never got that left you feeling incomplete.
Lack of closure can leave you feeling less whole, but how you work through that hurt defines you so much more than the hurt itself.
6. Your failures.
The amount of effort you put forth speaks to your ethic and ability to care. The end result matters less than your actions.
7. Pretty much anything you did in high school.
Whether you were a fuck up, stoner, goody-two-shoes, Hot Topic Enthusiast, Regina George-wannabe, or intense overachiever, this all fades into the background after a few years. You have so much time to redefine yourself.
8. The parts of your body you feel self conscious about.
No one else is looking at the one flaw you can’t stop thinking about.
9. The number of people you have or haven’t slept with.
You are not The Girl/Guy Who Sleeps Around, nor are you The One Who Has Never Be In A Relationship, or The One Who Has Never Had Sex. Don’t feel pressured to do something (or not do something) because you think you fall into one specific mold. None of these are defining characteristics unless you let yourself get hung up on them, which you shouldn’t.
10. The personality flaws that you see in yourself, but no one else notices.
Insecurities take up so much of our time, and too much space in our head. But they are not what defines us. And though our insecurities push us to overthink, most people around you don’t even pick up on them.
11. Your “type.”
Because you’re allowed to deviate at any time.
12. A job you take out of necessity that is not necessarily your “passion.”
You are allowed to work for the sake of working, and simply because you need a job. We put so much pressure on people to “follow their dreams” and “do what they love.” And yes, in an ideal world, everyone would be fulfilled every second of every work day. But that isn’t always a reality, and sometimes, you need to pay your bills and then follow your ~~passions in your spare time when you aren’t at work. The job that you aren’t in love with doesn’t define you; what you do outside work does.
13. People who have taken advantage of you, or taken your goodness for granted.
They are a blemish on your path, but once you leave them behind, they honestly don’t matter anymore.
14. The almost-relationships that didn’t work out.
You are not a series of failed “almosts,” but sometimes when you’ve been dating for a long time, it feels like you’re wading through a sea of assholes, and never ending up with someone who will last. It’s disheartening, of course, but it is not a defining characteristic of your love life. You cannot blame yourself for circumstance. And modern dating culture is not what defines you; what you can bring to a relationship is far more important.