I turn 20 years old in six months. I will technically no longer be a "teen," but also will not be an adult. Honestly, it's one of the most confusing ages. The past few months, I've been reflecting on my lifestyle and my mindset, and I've realized that I spend too much time being unhappy about things that don't really matter too much and I've been struggling with who I really want to be.
I'm tired, too. Tired of being an afterthought for other people, tired of disliking the parts of myself that I only created to please others, and tired of not being the best possible version of myself.
I strongly believe that life is too simple and complex to make it more difficult than it needs to be, so I've come up with 20 ways to adjust my mindset to make life more simple and more enjoyable in order to be my best self.
1. Don't panic
So for starters, I had been working on this article for over a month, and as I was finishing it up everything accidentally got erased. Hours of writing, picking out GIFs, formatting, and editing, all gone. My first thought was to panic. I could get upset, cry, frantically try anything and everything to fix it. The problem is that none of that would bring back the article that I had put so much time into. So I decided to let it go. I decided to simply redo the article, and this time it would be even better than it was before.
Focusing on finding solutions instead of getting caught up on what went wrong is growth.
2. Match energy
One of the hardest things I've had to learn is how to not overextend myself to people who aren't even putting in half the effort I am. I always expect people to want to talk to and see me as much as I want to talk to and see them. I've continuously made the mistake of putting myself and someone else on the same level when we're not even close. This is about the same level of energy, not exact same percentage of energy. If you're putting in 90% and they're putting in 85%, that's cool! If you're putting in 90% and they're putting in 40%, you need to rethink if you really matter in their lives. Matching energy means exerting the same amount of effort into a relationship that the other person is exerting. Matching energy allows you to spend more time on people who value your time than people who couldn't care less.
It is absolutely exhausting to try to be everything for someone who only sees you as his or her sometimes.
3. Healthy mind and body
I have found over the past few years that exercise does amazing things for not only your body but for your head as well! Whenever I've felt stressed, I workout and feel better after. Not only is exercising important but eating healthy is as well. Eating well and working out on a consistent basis is pretty difficult during freshman year in college when living in the dorms. Stress, packed student gyms, and lack of fridge space make it hard to achieve the whole "fit mind and body" image that I've been working for. When I'm 20 and living in an apartment, I'll have more fridge space and less social stress than in the dorms.
Like Elle Woods said, "Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy!"
4. Trust that everything will work out
I know that things are always going to work out, even if I don't know exactly how. This past summer I didn't get the job I wanted and a relationship I was interested in didn't happen. Instead of getting the 40+ hours/week summer job I thought I wanted, I got an awesome job teaching little kids how to play sports 12 hours/week outside, and I was able to keep my then-current job. Looking back, that relationship I thought I wanted was definitely not what I wanted.
This year in college, I've again found myself upset over almost-relationships and also classes. It has gotten easier to take a step back and remind myself of all the times that I thought I had failed but really was just being led away from what wasn't good for me. I have figured out that after every let-down, there is something better ahead.
Long story short, just because things go wrong doesn't mean they go bad.
5. Keep going
"It doesn't get better, you get better." When I have the choice to quit or to get better, I want to choose to get better. Often I criticize myself for not being where I want to be, but that transition period between where I am and where I want to be is truly where the best improvements are made. No matter how many times I fall back in my plan, I keep going because I know one day this will all be worth it.
One of my favorite phrases is the title of one of Charles Bukowski's books, "What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through The Fire."
6. Don't chase anyone
Everything I thought I wanted and couldn't have was just a lesson. Whenever a guy wants to leave, I'm not going to stop him. If he wants to stay, he will stay on his own and I won't have to do anything to 'keep' him. In the end, I remind myself that it's probably for the best that things didn't work out. Not chasing anyone also applies to friends. If they're ignoring you, let them.
Don't beg for his attention because, again, if he wanted to talk to or spend time with you, he would.
7. Focus on what I want
I've spent a lot of my life worrying about what other people will think and how other people treat me in their lives. I realized that no matter what they think or how they treat me, it's up to me to decide how to react. I can ignore their opinion, I can leave the relationship. I am in control of my own life and I refuse to let external people and events disrupt my personal focus.
I will be the girl who goes after what she wants and isn't afraid to turn down things not good for her.
8. Learn everyday
I need to start studying every day throughout the semester. This way, I would learn the content gradually and have a better shot at retaining the information, instead of cramming every midterms season. Currently, like most college students, I simply do my homework and then try to relearn everything that I never actually learned in time for finals. This is not the optimal way to learn or to do well in school. Next year, I will spend hours each day going through lecture notes and preparing for each class.
I want to know my subjects inside and out as best as I can, instead of just barely passing by.
9. Accept what I can't change
I need to focus on what I can change and forget whatever I can't change. Whenever something goes wrong, I ask myself: is there anything I can do to change or improve this situation? If the answer is no, then I let it go. If the answer is yes, then I make that change. For example, I can't make myself someone's priority or go-to person. What I can do, is be that person for whoever needs it, and know that one day I will be a priority, but maybe that day doesn't have to be today. Accepting what I can't change and moving on makes life more simple than being bitter over what I can't change.
Most importantly, if someone doesn't want me in his life, I'm not going to worry about his absence.
10. Turn negative "what ifs" into positive ones
If you know that the positive possibilities are not likely, and the negative possibilities are almost guaranteed, then they are no longer "What Ifs," you can stop worrying, and you can get a head start on deciding how you want to act when those negative possibilities become reality. In addition, thinking positive what-ifs can help reduce anxiety and make you more productive. In general, the positive possibilities are just as plausible as the negative possibilities. Change your mindset, change your life.
Positive what ifs: "What if this is everything I ever wanted? What if this is an opportunity to learn from? What if I succeed?"
11. Let go
Self-growth is saying "ok" and letting it go, instead of sending a long paragraph trying to get the person who hurt you to realize that he hurt you. It's really tempting to ask for closure. The problem with doing so is that you're giving the person who hurt you more power. He or she had the power to hurt you, don't give him or her the power to give you closure. You can give that power to yourself, you deserve that power.
I'm a strong believer that life always finds a way to separate us from things not meant for us.
12. Let things flow
In my 19 years, I've learned that people can tell you they love you, reassure you show that they care, make the effort to spend time with you, and then still change feelings overnight. People leaving hurts, but you don't have to let their leaving be a big deterrence in the flow of your life. Allow people to enter and exit your life as they please, and enjoy their presence while they're there. The right person won't leave and they'll flow with you.
When you have a strong foundation in yourself, you can't be broken down by the in and out movements of others.
13. Stop actively seeking love
A quote from "Sex and the City" says, "It's the rule of life that everything you have always wanted comes the very second you stop looking for it." When reflecting on my past relationships, I've realized that the ones that work out best are the ones that I wasn't even looking for. The ones that have caused me the most stress are the ones that I have sought out. I need to stop actively seeking "my person," and just live my life.
I strongly believe that the right person will find me when I know I'm ready.
14. Value people who put time into you
Value the people who ask you to get coffee or study, who invite you to go out with them, who make sure they ask for an update on big news you told them, who check up on you, and so on. Finding people who make time for you, whether it's in person or just replying to your rants through iMessage, is hard to do. Don't take those people for granted. Check up on how they're doing, ask them to get coffee, send words of encouragement at random times just to remind them that you care.
Put time into people who put time into you.
15. Stop caring what people think
Dance like no one's watching. Slay in that new outfit. Laugh your ugly laugh. Post that pic on Instagram. Have feelings. Put yourself out there. People are going to judge you no matter what you do, so focus more on not caring and less on worrying about what they think.
Love yourself for who you are and when other people see that, they will too.
16. Don't be afraid of rejection
So many people these days are scared of rejection. We often go after for-sure things. We go after things we know will work out. Why are we so scared of rejection? Because instead of having it reflect on the person we're rejected by, we have it reflect on our own self. When rejected, we question our self-worth, our appearance, our personality, and so on. In order to not be afraid of rejection, put yourself out there and if you get rejected, know that that does not lessen who you are. You are worthy and not everyone will see that, and that's okay. Getting rejected 10 times with the possibility of succeeding once is better than not even giving it a shot. Shoot your shot!
Start seeing yourself as someone to be valued and your whole life will change.
17. Ditch the distractions
The answer I'm looking for to whatever I'm struggling with can't be found by scrolling through my newsfeeds, in the bottom of a cup, or in someone else' bed. My problems won't be solved by getting involved in distraction after distraction. Dancing with strangers and finding someone to make me feel less alone temporarily only makes me more lonely. I need to ditch the distractions.
The answer I'm looking for is in me and I can't find it if I keep trying to distract myself from how I'm feeling.
18. Block out negativity
Unfollow people on social media who you always find yourself comparing yourself to. Unfollow people who are constantly tweeting about things that make you feel negatively in whatever way. Social media doesn't have to be bad for your mental health, but it definitely can be if you don't reflect on what you truly want to see. In person, be aware of people and events that make you feel like shit. No, seriously, stop going to places where you know you won't have a good time. Stop interacting with people who make you feel negative.
Stop teaching people that they can hurt you and still be allowed the same place in your life.
19. Trust your gut
In almost-relationships, whenever the communication became less frequent and more distant, I would get this awful gut feeling that something was wrong. I would wonder "What if he doesn't want to talk anymore," "What if I did something wrong?" "What if he's no longer interested in me that way," and so on. That gut feeling told me that something was wrong, and instead of trusting it I would come up with excuses for his actions or blame the gut feeling on relationship anxiety.
I don't have relationship anxiety, I just need to stop ignoring my gut.
20. Be confident
Being confident means being kind to yourself. Remember that all of your little "flaws" that you stress about so much are barely noticeable to others. If you are confident in yourself, you will be stunning no matter what. It's okay to not feel like you're not at your best, but try to have confidence that even when you're not at your best, you are still good enough.
"Confidence isn't about being better than everyone else in the room, it's about knowing that you're enough no matter who else is there."
I'm still convinced that getting a dog would solve 100% of my problems, but until that happens I guess I'll try to adjust my mindset in these 20 ways! The biggest way to make all of these things possible is to carpe diem. Seize the day. I won't waste my days waiting for the weekend or summer or finding the love of my life. I will make personal decisions that aren't influenced by other people's actions or perceptions. I will be the girl who loves her life not just because of what she has, but who she is.