How To Become The Person You Want To Be

You’re missing something. You’re watching everything pass you by and it’s making you anxious but you’re not quite sure how to catch up. A small part of you doesn’t even want to catch up. You’ve become comfortable in your complacency, comfortable in your own mistakes. Your slip ups have become some kind of solace. They’re yours to keep. Flaws have become some sick substitute for a relationship and you take them to bed with you.

You’re too young to be completely happy. You’re currently living your lost years and even though it’s taking you down, you’re not ready for the alternative. Something that no one likes to admit is that it sort of feels good to screw up. You don’t think you know exactly what you’re doing? You can pretend to be naive to spare everyone else’s feelings but let’s not get confused: you’re in control here. Every step of the way.

That is, until you’re not. The thing about being a mess is that you eventually do lose control. The self-destructive spiral you’ve been orchestrating gets ripped away from you and put in the hands of something much bigger. Then you’re screwed. Then you’re going to be saying “JK! Take me back to the land of stability and normalcy! I’m done living my lost years. Now I just would like to be found!”

Your life is precarious. When you were in high school and college, you treated your mortality like it was a crappy purse. You stomped on it, broke a strap, let a vodka bottle spill out and ruin the leather. You did all of this believing it would all be repaired while you were sleeping, and it usually was. You reach a point, however, when the leather stays torn, when the piece of crap bag becomes beaten beyond repair. Simply put, you have to take a more proactive role in maintaining your happiness and well-being. You’re not just someone watching their own life from afar. You’re in it now. And if you don’t take care of it, it will fall to pieces.

This is how someone becomes the person they want to be. They make changes. They stop taking those pills, clutching those drinks, and start deleting those numbers in their phone that might as well be daggers. They take responsibility for themselves. This might sound so minor but something you all must know by now is that we’re often our own worst enemy. We can’t blame something on a lack of self-awareness. We’re all aware, which makes it that much harder when we see ourselves making the same mistakes. We often wonder why we do the things we do. But we already know why. Knowing and doing are two different things though. I know that x, y, and z make me unhappy but I guess, in the end, I just don’t care enough to make changes. You can’t force yourself to care. You need to reach a point where you DO care which can take a long time.

But once you do reach it, there’s no going back. Being a broken mess is a blast at 19 but once you’re old enough to know better and start to make those necessary changes, returning to that state will feel awful. That’s something to actually mourn. There’s a certain kind of beauty with being reckless with your body and mind. Closing the chapter on that and actively becoming the person you’re going to be feels great but it’s also a tad bittersweet. Sometimes you want to go back to being the person you were before all the bad stuff happened, but you know that’s impossible. So you just bid adieu to that time and look towards your future. (FYI, it looks super bright.) TC mark

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image: Presidente

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • Anonymous

    “They stop taking those pills, clutching those drinks, and start deleting those numbers in their phone that might as well be daggers. They take responsibility for themselves.”   
    But what if none of these are the problem??

    • Veronica

      Then you make the change that does (help to) get rid of the problem. Right?

    • Teresa

      Then you start taking those pills, downing those drinks answer start taking some numbers!

  • Sophia

    “Flaws have become some sick substitute for a relationship and you take them to bed with you.” I’ve never thought about it like this before, but it’s amazing how much this line resounds with me.

  • SBG

    Bravo!

  • A Penny for My Thoughts

    “You’re not just someone watching their own life from afar. You’re in it now. And if you don’t take care of it, it will fall to pieces.”
    This is such a beautifully written piece that I think targets the way that a lot of people in their 20s and beyond are struggling with, whether or not they choose to admit it. I am on the cusp of graduating college and moving into the real world and have had to take a look at a lot of aspects of myself that I don’t think I have been completely satisfied with for a long time. In college, it is almost celebrated to be a hot mess and to act recklessly towards all aspects of your life, but there comes a time when you need to figure out where it si you’re trying to go and how you see yourself getting there. Looking at yourself and recognizing that their are some major changes to be made can be one of the most difficult things to do, but recognizing that they are changeable is wonderful.

  • http://twitter.com/ataraxistix S

    Love it and, it came not a moment to soon!

  • Jake

    <3
    i feel inspired to get out of bed now (but not before i masturbate).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046820072 Dalia Asfoor

    Post grad life. 

  • Rachel

    I don’t know how you do it, but everything you write reaches into the corners of my mind and draws out the truths that I can’t admit myself. In this corner of the internet, you have become something of a voice for our generation.

  • Watauga County Headquarters

    AHEM

  • mels

    thanks. i needed that :)

  • Bb

    Perhaps the invention nicks it
    To beyond fire
    Onto a level of fairness
    Escaping every crack and crevasse
    Meaningful delight
    From here, places do wait
    Intend to disguise
    Momentum unleashed
    Furnished with desire
    Skillfully played
    Relinquished control embraces change
    Evolution in minutes
    Signals sustain feverish insecurity
    A powerful display feigned only by
    The wild lion in captivity
    A hopeful semblance of devotion
    Flows if paint
    Exist
    Now.

  • Anonymous

    Loved every bit of it! Definitely what I needed to read at this point of the evening.

  • Perplexed

    Maybe it’s because you’re a 20-something, but you seem to think that these feelings are felt exclusively by people who have graduated college and whatnot.

    I fucked up at 17, I’m about to turn 19 as a college freshmen, and I already have my shit together. Is there something to be said for precocious maturity? I mainly feel isolated from most of my peers, who are working past issues that I dealt with long ago. I help them when I can and I’ve found friends who are “on my level,” but it’s lonely over here.

    • Still perplexed.

      Oops, *freshman. But you get the idea.

    • Mmmm

      As a former fuckup from 15-17 who went on to get their shit incredibly together at 18…. only to repeat the cycle two more times (fucking up at 22, getting myself together at 23, fucking up again at 26 and collecting myself at 27), I can say from experience that your precocious maturity might be precocious but it isn’t necessarily permanent. Feeling smugly alone in my maturity (which then turned into boredom) didn’t help me any, and I don’t think it will help you a lot either.

  • http://twitter.com/iamthe0nly Jordana Bevan

    i regret never making it to the bottom because there’s still part of me that thinks it could maintain the wake up-get drunk-go out-get fucked-go to sleep-wake up-never feel stressed or worried or bad routine for eternity. i like it when you write like this.

    “The thing about being a mess is that you eventually do lose control. The self-destructive spiral you’ve been orchestrating gets ripped away from you and put in the hands of something much bigger.”

  • Sarah

    You may have just saved my life.

  • $90 ticket

    this article is so intelligent. thank you.

  • alex

    really proper. you keep reading my daily thoughts. hope you publish some great works because it (to me) is spot on..

  • Nandikesha Jungwirth

    “Something that no one likes to admit is that it sort of feels good to screw up.” SERIOUSLY. I’ve sort of baby stepped my way into the realization that every single one of these awful and awfully beautiful fixations we’re lugging around exists because, well, we like something about it. These patterns have momentum, there’s an energy behind them. It’s fun to play with turning off the auto-pilot, grabbing the wheel and directing that energy where we actually really want it to go. My teacher often says that as humans we’re so good at creating patterns, so why not create better ones? Why not put patterns that enable our own unfolding where we now hold tightly to the ones that keep us stagnant and all bound up in knots?  I mean, I like being tied up once in a while, who doesn’t? I think it’s mostly because I know I’ll eventually be unbound.  Anandamayi Ma said that even the most precious golden chains we bind ourselves with will one day rot and fall off.  These patterns we cling to and love ferociously and define ourselves by, not a single one is gonna last. I feel like we’re all moving toward realization, but there’s a lot of walking one step forward and two steps back on the path. I think that’s really okay.  Here we are, each of us in our own unique condition, walking around and screwing up and getting down and getting sick of it and letting go of what needs to go, eventually. It’s cool to read articles like this and feel like we’re all in this together. Thanks everybody. 

  • danielle

    this was beautiful. made me choke up a bit. described every feeling i have. hope i can make these changes…. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000157927414 Jordana Guevarra

    This article hit me like I was shot in point-blank range. I’m in the process of figuring how to get my shit together. And oh Ryan! I’m definitely gonna do it! Thank you so much…

    Can I just say that I love you more than ever?

  • Kimmie

    I just want to say how great this article is and you’re such a genuine writer. This article is exactly what I need right now. Thank you!

  • fanforlife

    Before I finished the last sentence, I thought to myself that this article could have saved someone’s life. It may be the very words someone needs to hear.  Then I read Sarah’s comment and smiled….good job Ryan!

  • Veronica

    “You can’t force yourself to care. You need to reach a point where you DO care which can take a long time.” Loved this. The whole piece was something I think it was important for me to hear right about now, so thank you :)

  • Anonymous

    Right. I should probably get out of this limbo.

  • Pokerphasmid

    I feel like, at least for me and my f***ed up situation, I’m just completely afraid of change and afraid of being an adult. I’m 25 and feel like I’m buried in a 40 foot trench. I want success so bad and I want my family to be proud of me but I don’t know the first step to even start the change and digging myself out of this hole where I could be deeper in, even though I feel I’ve already hit bottom. From the first to the last sentence of the article, I thought you were talking directly to me, Ryan. Unreal. To change, do I just do everything the opposite?? I feel so lost.

    • Nandikesha Jungwirth

      Try to take a clear and deep look at your real situation, no bullshit. What actions dig you deeper into the hole you don’t want to be in? What aspects of your life are the rope pulling you up and out? 

      Sometimes when I know the changes I need to make, I tell myself I’m confused. It’s a mask though, because underneath it I really do know. I just REALLY don’t want to take responsibility and put forth the effort to change. 

      If you can see something about your real situation with even a sliver of clarity, FOLLOW THAT. It’s baby steps. And it’s incredible to take each and every one of them. Maybe you’ll fall a bunch of times, but you can do it. This process is why we’re here. You’re not alone. Get to it. 

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