Expectations ruin us. It’s so hard for anything to live up to our expectations. We always want the best. No one wants to settle for average. No one wants to be second best. And so we imagine up these wonderful fantasies for ourselves where we marry a beautiful person, live in a grand house, travel the whole world, make six figure salaries, and anything less to us just doesn’t seem to cut it.
Now, it’s not a bad thing to want the best for yourself. However, it is a bad thing to never appreciate what you have in the process. You should always love what you have. You should strive for excellence, but in doing so, you must never ignore what got you there.
Appreciate your first girlfriend or boyfriend who taught you how to open up to people. Appreciate your 1 bedroom apartment which made you independent. Appreciate your minimum wage job which taught you the value of money. Appreciate all your failures that helped you understand that nothing ever came easy. Appreciate the people in your life who loved you when you were starting out and weren’t able to love yourself.
Show your appreciation to the things and to the people that made you who you are today. Don’t take them for granted. Love yours.
There was a way I wanted my life to go when I was young. I had goals I wanted to achieve by certain points in my life; I wanted to have my first kiss by 14, I wanted to be graduated from University by 22, have a house and a car by 25, etc etc.
That was way back in the day. I’m 21 now and my life isn’t exactly going according to plan. I’m still achieving my goals but it’s been a considerably slow process.
As time has gone by though, I’ve come to the realization that life isn’t a race. It’s not meant to be treated as such. It’s alright if you don’t have your shit together by 24. It’s alright if you need a little more time. And I genuinely believe that. Although when you see the people around you achieving great things, there’s always a part of you that questions yourself and what you’ve managed to accomplish in comparison.
It’s great if your friends get into medical school or make the Dean’s List, but it stings a little when you’re not there with them. As humans, we have a fundamental nature to compare ourselves to the people around us. That’s not the right way to go about things, but it happens. It’s bound to happen.
In truth, the only person you should strive to be better than is who you were yesterday. Work on yourself and achieve your goals at whatever pace you feel comfortable with. Having life goals is a good thing. It gives you motivation and purpose, but don’t ruin your life trying to outdo others.
Last week was not a good week. It was probably the worst week of my life. Never before have I related so much to a children’s book title, that being A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about what happened today, as a result of last week.
Without going into too much detail, I was in the hospital last week. Through a series of events far too random to explain, my ex-girlfriend was the one in the hospital with me. It wasn’t my family, or any of my best friends, but my estranged ex-girlfriend. She stayed with me throughout the night and took care of me until I was cleared to go back home. This is the same ex-girlfriend who also cheated on me a little over a year ago and we hadn’t spoken to one another in time.
Flash forward to this week and she texts me wanting to see me one last time before she moves to Halifax. Yes, Halifax, it’s that kind of random. Anyway, I agreed to see her. I was under the impression that she wanted to make sure I was okay before she left. I was wrong, as I so often am when it comes to girls.
She wanted to get back together. Apparently, my hospital visit had made her realize that she still had feelings for me. My first instinct was to hurt her. It was to tell her no and simply storm away, but I didn’t, in large part because of how she’d taken care of me at the hospital. So I heard her out and I tried to talk her out of it. I reminded her how we’d already tried once and how it hadn’t worked out. I told her how it would end up being long distance and that’s never easy for anyone. If Tim and Lyla from Friday Night Lights couldn’t do long distance, what chance did we have? I told her all kinds of things but she wouldn’t budge on it. And so I left. I left her crying and that made me feel awful.
But it was the right thing to do. She’d broken me over a year ago and I couldn’t just give her the power to do that again. I appreciate her so much for taking care of me when I needed it the most, but getting back together would’ve been wrong…for both of us. You can’t go back to what broke you. It’s not going to fix anything. You have to move on. You have to leave some people behind.
My plan for this summer was very simple. I was going to work. That was it. I wasn’t going to go out every weekend. I wasn’t going to travel anywhere. I was just going to work. Day in, day out, for 4 months.
I don’t exactly know why I decided to do that. I wasn’t saving up for anything. I wasn’t trying to buy a new car or a new phone or something. I suppose I just wanted to make money.
Now, I’m 3 months into my brilliant plan and I’m slowly but surely going crazy. I love the city of Toronto, but recently, it’s felt like hell to me. I feel like a caged animal. Every thing seems to be bothering me, no matter how little. Every Subway delay gets me frustrated. Every time it rains, I get pissed off. Every time a customer asks me if a regularly priced item is on sale, I want to erupt.
It’s awful. My life has deteriorated into this mundane pattern where I go to work, go back home, and then repeat it all the next day. I want to escape it. I want to fly away somewhere. I want to explore a new city and go on adventures. I don’t want to have to worry about whether a customer is taking in 7 or 8 items into the fitting room. I can’t deal with that anymore.
I started looking at airplane tickets yesterday, but with only a month left until school starts up again, I don’t really have a whole lot of time to properly plan something out. But I’m determined now. I need to get out of Toronto, if only for a brief moment.
I’m going into my fourth year of University in about two months. I am not ready. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I don’t even really like my program anymore. I’m just limping along trying to get to the finish line.
There’s a lot of uncertainty. There’s a lot of lingering questions. Will I be able to get a job after? Do I even want to get a job for the field I’m in?
Why did Robb Stark have to die the way he did? There’s just so much to think about.
I’m studying Biological Science, and initially, my goal had been to become a pediatrician. I was very focused on it. I was very determined. Then first year hit me like a bus. Second and third years proved to be much better, but as I went on, I began to realize that I had no passion for science. I didn’t enjoy studying science. In the middle of third year, I freaked out and legitimately thought about dropping out and changing programs, but I didn’t even know what I wanted to change into which made changing programs a little difficult.
So, I decided that I’d stick it out and get my degree, and afterwards, I could decide what I wanted to do with my life. But afterwards is creeping up real fast here and I still have no idea about where I’m headed. I’m assuming that it’s going to hit me soon. I’m assuming that the universe is going to send me a sign any day now and my life will get right back on track. That’s reasonable, right?
Everyone says do what you love, but what if you don’t know what you love? What do you do then?
We’re all fighting battles; these wars within ourselves that threaten to consume us. Often, we fight these battles alongside our friends and family. We open ourselves to people whom we love and they help us. Other times, we go at it on our own. We don’t let people in and we make life difficult for ourselves.
I recently had a very enlightening conversation with my friend, who we’ll call Leonard. Leonard has abandonment issues. And I don’t know what that’s like. I didn’t even know he was going through this until he told me.
His issues started when his father left him when he was 6 months old. His mother raised him by herself. Throughout his childhood, he had a revolving door of father figures who entered his life and left just as he would get attached to them. That led to him having difficulty forming stable relationships with people. Instead of getting too attached to anyone, he would push them away to avoid that feeling of abandonment. He lost a lot of friends that way, to the point where he’s now afraid to make new friends because he feels as though he’ll just drive them away.
I can’t imagine what that’s like. I can’t imagine someone going through that alone. And even now, with me knowing his situation and knowing the root of it, I can’t say that I truly comprehend it. It’s not something I can relate to, but it’s something I’m glad he told me. It helps me understand some of his decisions better. It helps him as well because sharing your problems helps to lessen its load.
We all have demons that we fight. The monsters under our beds from when we were young manifest themselves in our heads as we grow up. When we were young, we would call out to our parents for help, but as we grow older, the prospect of asking for help becomes unappealing to us. Our pride gets in the way. We’d rather suffer alone than seem weak in front of our friends and family. And that’s absurd.
Asking for help does not make you weak. It makes you human.
It’s important to know yourself. It’s important to be comfortable in your own skin. The world is going to push it’s expectations on you on a daily basis. It’s going to try and mold you into what it wants you to be. You can’t let it win.
You need to know who you are. You need to know your traits, the good and the bad, and you need to be comfortable with them and happy with them. You are who you are for whatever reason and it’s nothing but a good thing.
I’ve always looked at compliments as being a double edged sword. So often we let people’s compliments affect our opinion of ourselves. It’s nice hearing things like, “You look good today”, or “I like your shoes”, or “You’re the funniest person I know”. But the moment you let someone’s compliment affect your opinion of yourself, that is the same moment you will let their criticism affect you as well. And I’m not talking about constructive criticism, I’m talking about things like, “You’re fat”, or “You’re not funny”, or “You’re weird”. Those kinds of statements make us feel like less than we really are, and they have as big an effect on us as they do because we crave the approval of people. We live for their compliments and so we fall for their criticisms. And that’s something that can’t keep happening.
Know yourself. Know yourself to the point where nobody’s opinion can affect you. Know yourself to the point where people’s compliments and criticisms bounce off you like a basketball on hardwood. What other people think about you shouldn’t matter. What you think about yourself is what’s important. That doesn’t mean you have to think you’re perfect, it just means that you have to accept who you are.