It’s a brand new year and this is always a time with many mixed emotions. Some of us are sad because we didn’t accomplish all that we set out to do last year. Some of us are excited to leave the past behind us and begin a new journey. Maybe even some of us are facing disappointment because we have already realized that our resolutions are not working out the way we wanted them to.
Well, I am 25 years old, and sometimes I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing except for being ordinary. Starting off this year I felt so incredibly defeated. There were times when I came home from work and wished I had handled something better. Or there were times when I broke down in front of my friends and felt so embarrassed and ashamed. I hadn’t eaten healthy enough, or exercised enough, or had enough fun. I lived my life shuttered in an apartment and dingy office cubicle.
Well, it’s a brand new year and my resolution is to strengthen my character.
I’ve had some time off of classes and some time away from work. I used a lot of this time to reflect. I reflected on why I was feeling so awful about myself and then I reflected some more to figure out if this was warranted or not. I came to realize that I put so much pressure on myself. I must always be the best, the greatest example and the stable person who could always be relied on. No matter what compliments people gave to me, I always shrugged them off and aimed for more.
Sometimes there isn’t or shouldn’t be any more. How high do we go before we are simply floating among the stars. In such a cold and distant place that where we are really beyond reach. Is perfection really an ideal I wanted to aim for? The more perfect I was, the less connected I was feeling to others. I spent so much time trying to achieve this perfect image of myself that I was losing the people around me.
When I recently visited my family I was very proud to hear that my mothers’ boss thought that I had become a mature young woman. I feel there is still a long path ahead of me but I was so proud to hear this. This is proof that I am slowly becoming the person who I want to be. One who is emotionally stable, secure with themselves and accepting of their own and others’ drawbacks. To me this is what being a mature person is.
As a student you live a transient life. You are forced to focus less on the moment and only focus on what is coming next. Which courses should you take in order to align yourself perfectly for university? Which summer adventure should you take in order to have the best bragging stories (and popularity) for next year? In university you juggle school work with real work and career planning. Everything is about the plan, you must have a plan and achieve that plan without any issues.
For me, those planning ideas didn’t stop after university. I barreled along creating plans and then re-creating them. At some point I became so exhausted and frustrated with myself. My plans weren’t working and I was so tired of trying. The worst part is that I barely remember the last few years. I am wasting away my 20s planning out a future that really doesn’t need it anymore. I have an excellent career. I’m able to pay all of my bills and still have lots left to spare. So what am I so afraid of?
It’s just such a foreign idea to not worry. I find myself making up things to worry about just so that I feel like I’m doing something. I remember a phone conversation with my mother where I told her that I hated Saturdays in the summer because I always felt that I had to go out and do something. I found myself stressing about how I was going spend my time on Saturday. How I was going to prove that I had seen enough sun and gotten out of the house enough, seen something new or taken enough Instagram photos to prove I was having an awesome summer.
Well, this year I am going to stop!
If I want to sit on my butt in my PJs all day on a weekend, I am going to do it. If I don’t do well on a project at work I’m not going to cry and beat myself up over it. If I’m still single on Valentines, or Canada Day, or my birthday, well I’m just going to accept it. O.K. I’ll probably tell myself that all men are awful and don’t know what they are missing. The point is that I am going to put less pressure on myself to be perfect and more pressure on myself to accept the flaws of myself and others.
I’m not going to let my perceptions of how others will feel stop me from doing the things I want. My only contract with this society is that I am a responsible, tax paying adult and that I don’t harm others. And to be honest, I’ve always been that way so I should stop being so paranoid about it.
It’s O.K. To let go I mean. It’s O.K. to let go of everything and just be happy for a change.
To quote some wise Buddhist words:
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
Happy New Year.