Being away has given me an opportunity to internalize my thoughts instead of distracting myself with the familiar comforts
Lately, my thoughts have been shifting. It might be the gloomy weather or the clear signs of global warming that’s affecting my mood but I’ve been thinking a lot about my role on this planet. I’m thinking about my footprints and how my experiences are shaping me.
2017 has taught me so many things about people. We’ve been living here in San Francisco for almost three years now, isolated (physically) from family and long-term friends. There are days when all I wanted was to go back home. But being away has also given me an opportunity to internalize my thoughts instead of distracting myself with the familiar comforts.
Being a responsible adult is so much more than paying the bills. To remind myself of all these lessons, I’ve written them down for future reference. I still hesitate to share these personal thoughts but my goal is to get out of my comfort zone and do something I normally wouldn’t do.
1. You can’t save everyone
People have to realize that they have control over their situations. No matter how much you help someone, if they don’t want to pick themselves up, then your efforts are useless. Sometimes, the best way to help a person is to allow them to struggle on their own. Give them space to grow and allow them to solve their own problems.
2. Losing friends (even the ones you never expected to walk out) is normal
There are people that I used to be close to that I no longer socialize with. In my early twenties, I would have reacted negatively: feeling sad and betrayed. But now I understand that it isn’t just a person’s fault that friendships fall apart. You have to look at your own actions as well.
On a positive note, I’ve gained new friends that I’m starting to feel comfortable with. I tend to have my guard up when it comes to new relationships but after I get past that, everything falls into place. I have a handful of people I can turn to anytime I feel like losing my head and I’m grateful for that.
3. It’s okay to be irrelevant
At a time when people value followers and likes, it’s hard to avoid wanting the same thing. I mean, who doesn’t like having quantifiable proof of your self-worth? Admittedly, there were times when I felt disappointed in myself for not being influential enough. I’ve cycled through thoughts of self-doubt and insecurity.
Is it me? Do people think I’m annoying? Am I using social media wrong? Am I supposed to post selfies and attach a thousand hashtags to gain people’s approval?
The monologue keeps going. But once I’ve cycled through these thoughts, I stop myself and ask different questions.
Do I really want to define my self-worth through these shallow numbers? What am I trying to prove? Doesn’t having more intimate relationships better than shallow ones? Who were you in this world before this became the norm?
With these thoughts, I’m pulled back to reality. I understand that media can change the way we think about ourselves. It’s hard to avoid but we can’t allow it to define us. We have to be aware.
4. Don’t compare yourself to other people
Again, with social media, it’s so easy to see people succeed without learning the full story. It’s so easy to forget that we only see a snippet of a person’s life. They might make it look easy but there’s a good chance they spent hours working on their achievement. Always remember that you are a unique individual with your own unique experiences. You are shaped by your past and have control over your present. Focus on your own goals and be happy for other people.
5. Appreciate the little things
It sounds cliché but this is one of the biggest things I learned in the last year. After a climbing accident that gave me a broken foot, everything became harder to do. Merely getting from point A to B was a chore and the timing wasn’t good too because a week after the accident, we flew to Hawaii. This had been a dream of mine since I was a kid. The heat and the sand made it difficult to move around and we couldn’t go on long hikes. I had a choice to be miserable or to accept my situation and laugh about it. I chose the latter.
It turned out to be one of the best trips we’d taken. I saw so much good in people who allowed me to take their seats and made me feel better through their words. Seeing the good in humanity after reading all the negative stories on the internet was refreshing. I’ve also learned to appreciate my husband more as he patiently let me use him as a crutch when I was exhausted from our walks. Not once did he complain about how slow I was or how disappointed he was that we couldn’t do any of our initial plans.