A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect. – Anonymous
Every year we get a birthday (obviously), but this time for me is pretty special.
It’s my 25 year anniversary of being alive.. and mark my step towards adulthood.
You know that I shared with you personal stories on the very first post in this blog, and I will keep sharing more.
(I tried to make this blog as honest and raw as possible. After all, it is under my name.)
So those who briefly knows me either in person, or through words of mouths, or online… might don’t know that I am actually struggling. And it’s not emotional – I feel like the difficult emotions I experience, such as cold sweat-coated anxiety, are a symptom of something much more fundamental that I need to dig deep, put a neon light on, and have a long talk over hot chocolate with.
The struggle is more into an existential crisis, at best. It is not about “who am I and what I am supposed to do in this world” type of crisis. It is more like,
Are the things I do really reflects my talents and gifts I have to offer to the world – or I just do what I think I am “supposed to do”?
Does my approach to please and perform and perfect helps me towards reaching fulfilling life – or pulling me away from it?
How far do I fully embrace who I am?
You may call me a typical millennial – but maybe the millennial stigma holds some truth in how an entire generation, with a unique mix of pre- and post-internet era, was raised into hopeful and optimistic youths that strangely are also wildly confused.
Well, I am confused. There are so many paradox about what we were told on the path to success vs. the actual successful people that completely disregard the so-called “ultimate success recipe”.
Remember when we were told that if you work hard and get straight A’s, graduated from the right university, with the right degree, got the right accomplishments, got the right job, marry and have kids at the right time, you’ll be a member of “success” club that guarantees you joy & happiness?
How many of you still believe that?
Even worse, those measurement sticks of success are what you should use to measure your self-worth.
How damaging is that?
However, this is not a blame post. I am not trying to blame anyone. This is some awakening that hopefully make us say to ourselves:
Is this the life path you really want?”
Today, I am happy to report that I am consciously in a journey of figuring it all out.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, here are 5 promises I made to myself, from 25 yo onwards:
To pursue excellence – not perfection
One of the most worthwhile investments of your time is to watch Dr. Brene Brown TED talks. That is the point when reality slapped me in the face and stop the clock in my head. You seriously miss a huge game-changer if you haven’t watch those.
And she is the one that introduces me to the concept of perfectionism as a heavy shield that you hide behind it.
It is a new concept for me, really. I always thought that perfection = excellence.
If you are so perfect, you will always be happy, right? Nobody can bring you down, right?
It is exactly the opposite of excellence, which will require mistakes and failures to happen. In fact, excellence needs acknowledgment that we are imperfect – so many things we don’t know, so many possibilities we are yet to discover.
Many people think I am a perfectionist. Well, perhaps I am.
But I want to say, I was. From now on, its pursuit of excellence that I am after.
It is a rule that says 80% of your social time and energy should be spent with 20% of people (or community or organization) that matters the most to us.
I used to be all over the place, trying to be everything to everybody. At the end of the day, who feel beaten up and depressed? Me. And what do I get? People who take me for granted and will be around if I am “useful”.
So what is the point?
From now on, I will make the most important connections in my life taking the biggest portion of my attention.
And that would require a lot of…
Remember in the 2000’s when the Yes Man movie starring Jim Carrey was so blown up?
Ironically, that movie is a poster child of why you actually should say No to a lot of things.
The hardest part about saying no is the guilt trip. Especially if the one that ask the favor is the manipulative type. But one tip I always remember from one of my favorite YouTuber is to understand that when people get mad at us not giving them what they want… well, it is because they don’t get what they want from you.
From now on, I will say No more often to things that do not resonate with my mission in life and my dreams… to things that make me more miserable in the end… to things I don’t want to do but feeling guilty if I don’t do it.
Therefore I can…
Treat time as what it deserves – the most valuable and finite resource
We tend to take time for granted. Especially because we don’t pay money for it, unlike food or a place to live.
But it does not mean it’s free.
Being a young adult with a full-time job, now I realize that the cliché “Time is money” is actually degrading. The truth is, you can’t buy time. You can get money back with your time… but you can’t back get time or moment you lost by using your money.
Turns out that time is finite resources, just like our food and energy. If I am drowned in 11 projects and 27 responsibilities, I simply cannot make it by just “prioritize it” or “work harder”. It’s just impossible. There is just so many hours in one day.
Can you feed 10 children with 1 cup of rice? No. Even if you try, you end up disappointing all.
So from now on, I will sacredly protect my most important asset – time – and make sure to put it on a good use.
Which leads to the ultimate promise…
Put me as no.1 priority
Trust me, this won’t be easy. Even writing this online is not easy. There is a negativity around it – that it prioritize our own need over others is considered “selfish”.
Turns out that “selfish” refers to self-love minus empathy.
No, it is NOT a crime to put your need first. The crime is when you think that you stop there. No seconds.
To illustrate: during an airplane emergency situation, we are directed to put oxygen mask first then help others.
healthy self-love: put mask first, then help other passengers
unhealthy selfishness: put the mask. Others? Don’t care.
unhealthy self-sacrifice: put the mask on other passengers until you pass out and die because you are so busy helping others you neglect our own needs.
As Dr Brene Brown stated, you cannot love others more than you love yourself. I want to openly accept that I am me – full stop. With all the features that makes me a human – all my strengths, all my weaknesses, all my quirks. And take my dreams seriously, listen to my gut, and live wholeheartedly.
So, to close this diary (kind of) I would like to say that I am deeply grateful about everything that surrounds me – loving parents, a partner-in-crime soulmate, close friends that I trust 100%, a comfortable life, and the fact that I acknowledge and put ahead what my soul needs.
Tell me if you are experiencing the same thing – quarter life crisis? – and how you cope with it. Does it bring you a revelation?