1. Even though you’re afraid to have difficult conversations with loved ones, you make sure they happen anyway. Even if that makes the other person unhappy, or if feelings get hurt. Honesty and openness will do a lot more for your relationships than suppressing and trying to just “get over” grievances.
It takes maturity and compassion to acknowledge that not everyone is perfect. Giving someone the chance to get it right next time by communicating with them about what has upset you, rather than just talking shit behind their back or leaving passive aggressive signs that you’re pissed, is a sure sign you’ve grown.
2. You’re holding onto a job you don’t necessarily love. Despite the lack of passion your current gig is providing, you’re still putting forth your best effort to try and make the most of it. More often than not, you’re on time, you meet your deadlines, and are an overall genuine and positive presence on your team. You’re supporting yourself and making a living, and sometimes that’s a victory in and of itself. You don’t have to be in love with your job to be successful.
3. You’re completely and utterly miserable sometimes, but don’t freak out and try to suppress it when you are. You used to think that a life well lived was one that was always happy, happy, happy, and as a result of this belief, you always chased glee and joy and all the “good” feelings and tried to block out the “bad” ones.
Although feeling content and happy is absolutely fundamental to a fulfilling experience here on earth, you need to go through some bullshit, too. When you’re at a point in your life when you actually let yourself feel all of the uncomfortable parts that come with being alive and don’t try to numb these or push them away, you’re on your way to becoming a more self-aware and emotionally intelligent version of yourself.
4. You generally choose to be compassionate towards others, rather than judgmental. You realize that there’s a lot more going on in others’ lives than they are letting on to.
5. You’ve stopped talking so much shit. In addition to a more compassionate mindset, you’ve also stopped being so interested in what people are doing “wrong.” You no longer use others’ missteps as a point of conversation and as an attempt to bond with others. You don’t think gossip is fun anymore. You think it’s unkind. Not only that, you’re also just kind of bored when you hear it.
6. You’ve had your heart broken, but didn’t hate the other person for breaking it. Some people just aren’t meant to be ours. It’s not their fault they don’t love you. Likewise, it’s not your fault they don’t love you. It’s just how it is sometimes. And it hurts and it’s messy and it sucks, but trying to dismiss your feelings for someone by trying to turn love into hatred doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s going to make it a lot worse in the long run.
7. You’ve stopped wasting time trying to win people over who make you feel bad about yourself. You’ve come to accept that some people just won’t like you. Period. You’ve stopped trying to pick apart as to why they don’t like you and win them over by righting “wrongs” or explaining yourself or making yourself bigger, smaller, funnier, etc. Instead, you just let them think as they wish about you, because in the end you know their feelings are their own and they’re entitled to them. (Just as you are to yours.)
8. You’ve stopped ghosting people and communicate when you’re not feeling them. Sure, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for anything, but you know what it feels like to be let go of without so much as a goodbye. Even though it’s awkward and difficult to hurt someone else, you know it’s better to let them know when you’re cutting ties.
9. More often than not, you don’t wait till the very last second to do things. This can be waiting for your car to be on empty before refueling, this could be refilling a medication, this could even just be routine administrative tasks for your job. Even though some of these things can literally take two seconds and can wait, you like feeling ahead and on top of things. You’re being responsible and prepared, and it feels good.
10. You choose to be alone over spending time with people you don’t really like. Solitude doesn’t sound so scary to you anymore. Forcing yourself to put on an act by hanging out with people who don’t share your values or who are just kinda jerks does, though. You’re more genuine in this way and maintaining friendships that actually matter (and getting rid of the ones that don’t).
11. You’re reading more. Be that the news, personal essays, novels, horror stories, or listicles. You’re exposing yourself to different ways of thinking and stories and ways of life.
12. You don’t take things at face value. You don’t just agree with something or accept something as true because someone “wiser” or older than you said it was a fact, or because you saw it on a Twitter feed. You develop your own opinions and thoughts about the world based on what you’ve set out to discover . You take it upon yourself to research statistics you’ve heard or news stories you’ve read about. You know it’s your responsibility to be informed and you don’t take chances on consuming misinformation.
13. You allow yourself to be passionate about and pursue what you actually care about (and not what you “should” care about). You know you only get one shot at this whole being a human thing, and so you actively become involved in whatever it is that makes you feel alive, be that art, reading, sports, music, pottery, exercise, etc. You don’t care if someone else doesn’t find what you love to be important. You know all that matters is that you do.
14. You dress for yourself. Even if it’s not in style or particularly trendy, even if it’s not what your love interest may admire. If you feel good in it and if you feel like it expresses who you are on the inside, you rock it often, and with confidence.
15. You say “no” when you need to, and gracefully. Sure, going clubbing on a Saturday or going to sushi on Wednesday night with your friends is totally fun, but you know when you need to save money or decompress and just have a night in. Knowing your limits and being able to say “no” gracefully to the people you care about is a sure sign you’ve grown.