I’ve been feeling an immense amount of pressure weighing me down about getting “older” and turning 30 next April. I know full well that 30 years old is hardly considered “old” nowadays, but aren’t we expected to reach certain goals and achieve successful targets once we reach a specific age? It suddenly dawned on me that I haven’t achieved what I always thought I’d achieve before hitting 30. That’s quite a lot of pressure to handle, isn’t it? I often wonder whether this pressure is “self-started” or the result of accumulated “unfulfilled expectations” from the surrounding environment (aka society)?
Well, growing up and I’m only talking about my own experience here, I was a highly ambitious and motivated kid, top of the class, competitive, member of the school’s gymnastics team, won lots of prizes and was loved immensely by my family. I think we were taught indirectly throughout our school years that only certain jobs will make us successful and fit into society’s template. Engineers, doctors, lawyers and certain professions will make us successful and happy. Unfortunately, our education system doesn’t focus on creativity, personal talents and helping students figure out who they truly are.
I studied and lived in the UK for six years and what I now call “The Golden Years” of my life. I was independent, living in a beautiful apartment on my own, I enjoyed solitude, learning and exploring a new life. Living abroad brought out parts of my personality that I never knew existed. I thrived getting to know myself on a much deeper level. On many levels, the experience brought out my creative genius. I never knew nor believed I had a grain of creativity in me, but as it turned out, I do. I gained both my BSc and MSc degrees in Biomedical Sciences from the UK with high grades, yet somehow, I still feel like I haven’t achieved much in my life. I find it difficult to feel accomplished and successful. I also find difficulty in pinpointing what I want to do with my life. It’s a big dilemma, even though I’ve been on a rather lengthy self-discovery journey. Instead, I’m trying my best to enjoy the process and unravelling my true potential.
I’m not here to blame anyone for my decisions and I’m not blaming myself. After all, it was my decision to study Biomedical Sciences, but I don’t think at 18 years old I really knew who I wanted to be. I didn’t know myself quite well enough back then.
Are you living in fear with your very own “imagined” deficiencies? Are you your own worst enemy? Do you often have harsh internal conversations with yourself? Do you set extremely lofty standards for yourself and tend to be a perfectionist? Are you suffering from stress-related symptoms? Do you feel stressed and anxious about your abilities and reaching your life goals? Do you doubt your dreams? Do you feel guilty celebrating a small victory because instead you need to be following a higher cause? Do you create worst case scenarios that cause anxiety and depression?
If you answered yes to some or all the above questions, then you needn’t worry. I’m here to assure and tell you that you’re not alone. We are in this boat together. I believe it’s time to stop and re-assess the way we treat ourselves. We need to be kinder to ourselves and live without our own “created” fears and harsh judgements.
We all have complex lives, fears and insecurities, but isn’t it time to banish all the things that limit us from becoming our better selves and soaring high? Sometimes the surrounding environment plus our very own lack of self-belief can be destructive. That combination turned my life negatively upside down. I didn’t know whether to do what I believed was expected of me, or choose to follow my gut feeling and heart.
It’s hard to keep going when people are not supportive of what you’re doing, or when they can’t seem to understand your journey or your goals. Just remember that as long as YOU believe in your own vision and dreams, nothing else matters! Unfortunately, we live our lives trying our hardest to meet our society’s expectations to avoid judgement. We stay in a job we hate, struggle to sort out our lives by reaching a certain age because the good old clock is ticking and it’s terrifying. We live our teenage years, 20s and most probably our entire lives trying to fit into a specific plan because it’s “expected” from the society. What if we choose not to fit into that template? Do something else? More artistic, intellectual and expressive of our true identity? That’s a very liberating idea, isn’t it?
I know that I’ve been living in confusion for a very long time to do what’s right and expected of me from the society’s point of view, to the point that I no longer felt successful or happy at all. I invested time pursuing things that I was convinced I wanted when, in reality, I didn’t. I know full well now that they weren’t going to provide me with the happiness, peace and calm which I seek in the long run.
For the past couple of years I’ve been doing a few things which aided my happiness, peace and calm. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend enough periods of time traveling with my parents. Just now I realized that the times I had spent with them where the moments I felt most alive, true to myself and happiest. The struggle which I have on the inside has not a lot to do with what I’m doing or where I’m going, but more to do with how I perceive myself and my life. I have a tendency to underestimate myself and achievements. I didn’t know how to love and accept myself. I’ve finally found my answer and I hope you do learn to love yourself, unless you’re already fortunate enough!
I hope I make sense and that my ruminations are easily understood and not too complicated. These are a few of the things that help me on my journey through life. I find these little things essential in my daily life. In fact, thanks to all the things, listed below, that I’m accepting myself and my wonderful ventures during the time I’m spending here on Earth.
- TRAVEL AND SPENDING TIME IN NATURE
Whenever I travel, I feel more alive and connected to myself. The real me comes out and she’s amazing. I quite enjoy being alone sometimes while on a trip to figure things out and reflect. Spending time in nature has positive effects on the mind. Arranging flowers or taking care of a plant has equal benefits.
“Perhaps we all need time to be free, time alone in nature, supported and encouraged to discover our own wild selves, to reconnect with who we are and what we want from life.” Jennifer Hanson
- FIND AN EAR TO LISTEN
When in doubt and struggling in limbo, you need to find someone to hold your hand, listen to you and a heart to understand you. Often in such situations, it’s not advice or solutions we’re seeking, it’s an ear to listen and a hand to pat our back. Never underestimate the power of a gentle touch and a warm hug.
- PUT YOURSELF FIRST
Take care of your body both mentally and physically. Focus on listening to your needs. Pay attention to your inner thoughts. Spend quality time with yourself. Give it a try. Schedule a meeting with yourself for ten-minutes and tune in to your body and thoughts.
- STOP FINDING JUSTIFICATION
Restlessness can stick around and destroy your life by making you doubt yourself repeatedly. Stop finding justifications for doing the things that make you happy. Instead, you need to direct yourself towards freedom and self-belief.
- MEDITATE. KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL. POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS.
Mediation has been proven to have many great benefits. It decreases stress hormones, increases deep relaxation, improves general health and increases focus and creativity. I use “Headspace” app which includes 10-minutes guided meditation sessions by Andy Puddicombe.
Find here a guided session that you can try at home or during the office lunch break.
Get to know more about the one and only Andy Puddicombe, a great person and an inspiration to many.
Gratitude is also a powerful way to feeling happier. I keep a gratitude journal on my nightstand. Every morning and night I write a short gratitude list which increased my awareness and thankfulness to all the blessings in my life. I feel happier, more blessed and it improved my sleep quality (I go to bed with happier thoughts).
My affirmation: “I release stress and only attract peace.”
- GET TO KNOW YOURSELF DEEPER.
It’s not always easy to know exactly what we want and desire. Our personalities and identities have been the interest of researchers for many years. Whenever I feel a bit lost, I turn to psychology magazines and books. I find the subject interesting and beneficial. The articles always make me feel better because it’s a reminder that I’m unique and special exactly just the way I am.
- LIVE IN THE MOMENT AND CHERISH THE LITTLE THINGS
Right now, at least, I can say that I’m trying to cultivate a more relaxed approach to reach the success I desire and in the process, I’m celebrating all my small victories. I’m planning on continuing to do so until I accomplish all my dreams. It’s imperative to follow your own heart, march to your own beat and go after your dreams in life, regardless of society’s norm.
- LOVE YOUR WORK, LOVE YOUR LIFE.
That’s a great philosophy to live by, but it just happens to be the title of one of my favourite books of all time. “FREE! LOVE YOUR WORK, LOVE YOUR LIFE” is an extraordinary book by Chris Baréz- Brown. We spend most of our lives working and if we are stuck in a job we hate, then that’s surely a problem. The solution is to get a copy and find your FREEDOM in a job you love. We all have a choice to do something we love and to lead fulfilled and happy lives.
Last but not least,
- BE HAPPY. CHOOSE HAPPINESS. MAKE HAPPINESS YOUR CRAFT
Make sure to enjoy the delights in life. It’s often not the big things, but the little things that can mean enough. The next time you sit down with a friend or a family memeber for tea, make sure to have a cup of positivitea. Have a good conversation, bond and be happy. These moments will pass quickly, but they always leave the best memories.
I just want to take the opportunity to thank my family for having continuous faith and sharing more love than I ever thought. Every moment I spend with you is precious, meaningful and extraordinary. I am who I am today thanks to you. I am one lucky girl! 🙂Continue being YOU. Let GO. FOLLOW your own path.
Lots of love,