Going through life, we all learn our lessons, sometimes the hard way. Sometimes we tend to just ignore parts of ourselves that we are not so proud of. However, I learned these lessons by fully accepting who I am as a person. That is what helped me be 100% honest with myself when it came to facing my fears and my weaknesses and finding solutions to tackle them. In a little bit over 20 years, here are the things that I have learned, experience after experience, and that I wish I knew sooner.
1. No one else but you is responsible for you
Not your mom, not your dad, not your aunt, not your professor, not any other authority figure you have in your life. Those are great, enjoy their presence, enjoy the time you spend with them and totally ask for advice if you need it. But do not take what they say as an absolute truth because at the end of the day, they are humans just like you. You are the one who will live with the consequences of your choices, and I bet you don’t want to wake up at 60, full of regrets because your mom pushed you to study law, or because your aunt told you that you should marry that man, and you listened to them. The truth is, you probably won’t be happy with your life if you follow that advice without believing it in your gut that is the right choice, and do you want to read the worst part? It will not even be their fault. It will entirely be yours. Your life, your responsibility.
2. Be your own reference
There’s always going to be people performing better than you, and there will always be people performing worse than you. When you need to do a task, to face a given situation or to take a challenge, strive to beat your personal best. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not as great as that person you look up to, you will get to that level eventually. It is a journey and you have to go at it mile by mile. Also, don’t do less than your personal best just because everyone’s level is way below yours, and because even if you do a poorer job than you would normally, it will still be appreciated. If you start playing that game of doing things in a way that will allow you to “get by”, you will compromise your gifts and get stuck in mediocrity, which is not what you want, right? It is hard sometimes to hold your standards high when you are surrounded by mediocrity, but please hold on. You will not regret it in the long run.
3. Nothing others do is because of you
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” This is one of my favorite quotes by Don Miguel Ruiz. You can’t make everyone happy and you shouldn’t even try to. Just be you and try your best to be as authentic as possible. Fight for what you believe in, build a life you will be proud to talk about when you will be 80 years old. I bet you don’t want to say “I haven’t done anything interesting because I was afraid they will judge me”. Don’t give that much power to people that can’t see your value. One filter that I like to use is that question: “Do I admire and want to become more like that person who gave me a negative comment?” If the answer is no, brush it off and get over it. You wouldn’t take advice from that person anyway, so their comment is irrelevant. If the answer is “yes” though, think about it. Was it a constructive comment or feedback? In case it was, consider it and see if it applies to your context. Constructive criticism is very important for your growth, so take it, but do not ever block yourself from being authentic because you fear the potential reactions of people. You do you.
4. Great things take time
You can’t expect to have that career you dreamed of just because you “want it”. You will probably not have it in one year, probably not even in five. To get there, you need to master your craft, and that takes time. But if you start today, you will be one step closer. Also keep in mind that time flies no matter what. Whether you start working on your goals today or not, five years will eventually go by anyway. The only difference will be where you’ll be at that point in your life.
5. Be in touch with your inner self
Listen to your body, listen to your mind. Learn their language and their reactions to what life brings. Listen to your instincts and learn to master them. In time, you will know yourself so well that you will be able to feel a situation, a person, an idea. Build the skill of the “gut feeling” and learn to listen to it, to recognize what it wants to tell you. It will be an invaluable asset in life because it never lies.
6. Be a life-long learner
Going to school is great, going to university is great, but really, there are only two things that you really need to learn: being versatile and being curious. The world we live is an ever changing one, and to survive in that environment, you need to have this ability to identify what is going on around you, and to learn about it. You live in a world where you can be a self-taught professional, so take advantage of that and be a life-long learner, a builder of your own destiny.
7. We’re all humans
Don’t be intimidated by people. Always be respectful, but don’t you dare be intimidated to the point you don’t think straight or you lose your self-confidence. The person in front of you, no matter how high up the ladder she/he is, above all, is a human being. They have their doubts, their weaknesses and their strengths. They have their insecurities, their heartbreaks and their families. If anything, be inspired and see them as the living proof that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. But do not get star struck or jealous. Get to work.
Let us know what are the things that you wish you knew sooner. We’d love to hear from you below!