Today’s my birthday. This has been a big year of growth for me. Here are 9 lessons that have solidified in my 26th year.
ONE: It’s ludicrous to think you won’t make mistakes.
It takes time to learn to do new things well. It requires trial and error to find your balance in life. And sometimes, shit just happens. Whenever you make mistakes, it’s best to fill your own cup with grace. Grace is so much more nourishing than belittlement or shame.
TWO: It’s not a waste of time to get the rock out of your shoe.
If something keeps returning to your mind and won’t leave you alone, if you’re having obsessive thoughts or playing something on loop, take the time to sit down and get to the bottom of why it’s showing up and how you can set it free. It might be an inconvenient hassle in the moment, but doing so will make the journey less painful and more efficient in the long run.
THREE: You can hold someone accountable for wronging you without holding a grudge.
I have a hard time holding people accountable because I want to justify what they did, give them a break because of whatever reason, or I second guess my right to be upset. Therefore, I tend to try to hold onto that grudge and replay over and over what happened and why it’s okay to be mad, which results in the grudge growing and in black and white thinking. But it’s okay to acknowledge someone wronged you, to be confident your emotions are valid, and to vow to say something when you get the chance without ruminating on it.
FOUR: You can forgive someone without excusing what they did.
I am incredibly prone to trying to write off what someone did to wrong me with excuses. They had a bad day. They’re really busy. They struggle with anger and it’s not their fault. But it is possible to acknowledge someone’s situation when they wronged you without justifying what they did. Extending grace is important but standing up for yourself is too. Forgiveness and excusing aren’t the same thing, and confronting someone doesn’t make you a difficult person (unless you’re nitpicking).
FIVE: It’s necessary to set emotional boundaries within yourself.
I’m terribly affected by other people’s emotions. I sense what people are feeling very easily, even when I’m not sure why they are feeling the way they are. And I want to protect everyone, everywhere from any sort of negative emotion. However, this can lead to me feeling drained and to trying to give more of myself than I have to give, especially with people closest to be who I read even better and care about even more. It’s okay to put up a wall sometimes. Adults are adults and can either deal with their own shit or can learn to. I don’t have to try to protect everyone at the expense of my own mental health.
SIX: Mental boundaries are crucial and with practice possible.
Thinking about work when I’m not at work isn’t good. Obsessing over an anxiety before I’m in any situation to do something about it is miserable. Letting thoughts of suffering or pain of others dominate my life is not sustainable. I’m learning that setting boundaries for where, when, and how often I think about certain things is not only good for my mental health, it actually allows me to process them more efficiently at the appropriate time because I haven’t exhausted myself. It’s hard to build the muscle to turn thoughts away, but with practice it gets easier.
SEVEN: I am responsible for whether or not I take on the expectations (real or perceived) others have of me.
I try to avoid awkward situations or feeling rejected as much as possible. Always have. It feels unbearable to me! The problem is, I will sacrifice my own ideals at times to keep things nice and neat. For example, especially with older and/or conservative folks, there are assumptions about how my husband and mine’s relationship works. They are quite different from reality or my own opinions of equality in marriage. Sometimes I find myself trying to maintain their perception of me as a “good wife” while resenting those expectations because my own vision (of lived out reality) of marriage life does not, let’s say, include me being the chef of the family. Then I resent them and myself. I’m learning I can survive awkward moments when my expectations and others clash. I’m learning to be confident even when things are uncomfortable. I don’t have to take on expectation I don’t want to take on!
EIGHT: It’s easier to say what you mean, when you’re confident in what you mean.
Confrontations, arguments, or speaking up in social situations used to be my nightmare. But, I’ve come to realize if, beforehand, I give myself intentional time and space to process what I think and why, it’s so much more easier to feel satisfied with how a conversation has gone, because I’ve spoken with more clarity and confidence.
NINE: If something feels off, investigate why.
This year, particularly the second half, as been one of following several “off” feelings I’ve had in various aspects of my worldview, but particularly religion. Being in tune with myself enough to recognize what I was feeling and being brave enough to spare no thought in my search for understanding and truth, has been truly freeing and eye-opening. Those gut feelings are there for a reason. Not to say they should be followed blindly, but they are likely a sign your brain is struggling to reconcile thoughts it doesn’t understand, actually agree with, or which are opposing in nature.
Listen. I know a list of 10 things would have felt more satisfying, but I ran out of time and I have to get ready for work. Now, I know you might be thinking Alissa, you could just wait and finish this after work. My friend, I don’t think you understand my lack of impulse control. Also, it’s my birthday and you have to be nice to me.
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Love this list – especially the first one. My mantra this year is “Nothing Today Must Be Perfect.” Love you xoxo
Love the mantra and love you bae 😘😘😘