2017 was not an ordinary year for me. In a span of a year, I’ve experienced so many new things, felt a rollercoaster of emotions, and had the chance to reflect on my life’s current situation. With these reflections, I was so excited for 2018 to arrive: a new year which brings forth a chance for a brand new start.
Two months have already passed in this new year but who says we still can’t have our new start now? Here, I have enumerated 8 things I’ve decided to let go of for this new start.
In a world where we’re all too comfortable with the known, we tend to overlook certain aspects that are perhaps already blocking us from being the best version of our selves. By letting go of these, we’d get a clearer view of new goals we can set for our selves. It is a process that takes time but acknowledging that these things do exist is already a step in itself.
#1. What Others Think
I always cared too much on other people’s opinion about me. And this very thought created a limitation for my actions. Instead of doing things I like or expressing my true feelings, I’d take into consideration first what others would think. When someone praises me and my work, I’d feel great; and when someone gives a disapproval, I’d feel bad.
I’d go out of my way to please others to the point that I could no longer distinguish what was the real me. Trying to please everyone is a hard habit to get out of. We all try to please everyone around us: our bosses or professors, our parents, our friends. And the price of trying to please everyone every single time is compromising our very self, the very thing that makes us real.
This year, prioritize your self (of course without hurting others in the process), stop letting other people’s opinion control who you really are. Set yourself free from the clutches of the society’s expectations. Trust your own judgment because this is your life and no one should dictate how it goes aside from yourself.
#2. Obsessing over a social media image
Being conscious of other’s opinion made me try to always portray some kind of image on social media: something people would “like”. But all those flatlay images of food or coffee that took so long to arrange, all those scripted candid poses, thoroughly-revised captions, and likes that came with it were becoming too far off from my offline self.
Being in social media and using its benefits to your advantage (especially when you’re trying to build up your own brand for your business) is not the problem, it is when maintaining that certain image consumes you too much that you eventually forget who you truly are in your attempts to have more likes. Remember, your social media image is merely an extension of your identity, thus, it must not be too different from who you are in real life.
Make this the year where you become comfortable with showing the world who you really are by uploading less-scripted but more authentic posts. So go ahead, don’t be afraid to show off that messy table setup or show off a wide gummy smile to the camera if that’s what you want to post. When we care less about the likes we’ll get, we can truly enjoy the goodness that social media brings without compromising our very identity.
#3. Negativity and Fears
The problem with me is that I have so many dreams, so many plans I want to do but before I get to do them, I always let the fears consume me. That little thought in my head saying I’m not smart enough to do this, I’m not talented enough to do that, or that I’m not good enough to be that person I imagined myself to be.
Probably what we all fear the most is failure. I’ve had enough failures in the past to acknowledge how heartbreaking it feels to experience one: your very core crumbles and you start doubting your ability in something you once thought you were good at. But think about it: is the fear of the unknown really worth the regret you’d feel if you gave up on your dreams? Would you let something that might not even happen get in the way of the life you’ve imagined?
Instead of avoiding these fears altogether, this year, let’s embrace them. Acknowledge that you have fears, allow yourself to feel them, and then as you get comfortable, slowly face them. Take a chance to at least try. If things work out, good for you; If they don’t, never beat yourself up because you can always keep trying again and again. Surround yourself with positivity and possibilities as you bravely listen to the wild beating of your heart.
#4. Toxic People
When I was little, I thought having the most number of friends was the most important thing in the world. As I grew up, I realized it’s not about the quantity but the quality of friends you have. It’s not always having the most number of friends, but having people who genuinely care for you.
Find those people who would make you feel that even if you don’t try hard, you are still good enough. The right people would embrace you as who you really are. You won’t have to change the way you think just to fit theirs.
So stop forcing yourself to the wrong people. Stop engaging with those who are always holding you back to get to your full potential. Instead, surround yourself with the people who are there by their own choice, those who you won’t have to cling on just to feel accepted in this world.
#5. Trying to be Perfect
I had so many ideas at the start of 2017, and I had so many things I planned to do. But only a few of those were actually implemented. This is because I was trying too hard to make them perfect that in the end, I never actually completed them.
Perfection is setting unrealistically high standards to which we often base from successful people we look up to. And when we fail to reach these standards, we beat ourselves up and end up feeling worthless. When we follow the standards of other people, we forget the most important thing: that is, each of us has different standards.
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” ― Anonymous, The Bhagavad Gita
Instead of struggling to achieve perfection, strive for excellence. Excellence is when you do your best, making use of your entire potential, and being that which you can possibly be.
#6. Doing things later
I thought I had so much time, I kept delaying things I have planned. And next thing I know, it was already the last day of 2017 and I was rushing to check things off my bucket list. Looking back, I’ve actually had so many idle times, so many times I could have been productive and could have done so many things but I chose to spend them watching TV shows or scrolling mindlessly on my phone.
The concept of tomorrow being another day has two possible outcomes. At one point, it gives us motivation that whatever bad thing that happens today is just another day and that there is a hope for a brighter day ahead. On the other hand, the thought that we have so much time in our life brings forth laziness and being too comfortable with where we are right now.
Remember those excuses you made last year: when you said you’d do something when you have more time or more money or whatever. As long as you keep making excuses for yourself and justifying your laziness, those excuses would just keep building up until you can no longer break free from that cycle of empty excuses. It’s an amazing feeling, that of finally finishing something you should’ve finished a long time ago. But wouldn’t it have felt so much more amazing if you’ve finished it earlier and on time?
The world doesn’t wait for you. Stop waiting for later that might not even come. Work with everything that you have right now and make full use of every opportunity that comes your way.
#7. Dwelling on missed opportunities
I spent the majority of 2017 thinking of the opportunities I missed. So many things I could have done if only I was this or that. And honestly, dwelling too much on the what ifs just made me have lower self-esteem and made me hate myself.
The irony of this is that as we keep wasting our time dwelling on the opportunities we’ve missed and ruminating over what could have been, we are also blocking our view of new opportunities that may come our way.
A common mistake that we all do is that we focus too much on the right things we have done, and yet we forget the wrong things we’ve done. Instead of completely forgetting these missed opportunities, look deeply into them. Evaluate your past actions and learn how you could have fared better. And then apply everything you’ve learned the next time another opportunity comes.
Ultimately, acknowledge that you are responsible for every action that you do. With this, you also learn to forgive yourself because you no longer define yourself through your past, instead, you realize that you are a self-improving individual on the way to being the person you want to be.
We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. We scroll through Instagram, look at the feeds of friends or bloggers enjoying their trip somewhere, and then we end up feeling bad about our lives. But the worst kind of comparison is when we compare our current situation to what we expected them to be. When I was younger, I imagined my 20’s would be more extravagant than it is now. And when I compare that to my situation now, I feel like I’ve failed my past self.
Comparison, while sometimes provides motivation, stems greatly from insecurity. It is when we equate our self-worth to someone else’s fortune or misfortune. It is also when we set certain standards for ourselves: to be successful or have various investments or own properties all limited to a certain age. The most toxic mindset but to which we repeatedly do to ourselves.
The world is our canvas: each of us having a canvas of our own. And how we paint that canvas lies in our very hands. Your tools right now may not be as advanced as other’s but still, you need to make use of what you have now because you can keep upgrading as you go your own way.
Let go of all expectations: from people around you and from your own. Look forward (literally) towards that bright future ahead of you. A well-respected Korean singer-songwriter, Jeon Inkwon, once said, “When you do your best at whatever it is that you do, your turn will definitely come. And when that time comes, it will happen in such a magical way. So just keep on doing what you do because your magic will happen”.
You are who you are until you are not. You have your own time; it may not be now but it will eventually come. Allow yourself to trust that your moment will come, and when it does, everything you’ve encountered, all the wait, all the tears and sweat that came with it, will all ultimately make sense.