If the plethora of self-help books next to the glitter flasks and home decor at Urban Outfitters was any indication, I'm well aware I could be doing better. I don't eat many vegetables, I rarely exercise and I hold grudges for so long that I forget why I was mad, all of which are by no means healthy.
Because the self-help market had a net worth of 9.9 billion in 2017 and still dominates bookshelves today, I'm pretty certain we all could be a little better too. However, what I recently learned from my personal experience challenges these ideals.
Before we can be the New Year's resolution version of ourselves, we have to be proud of who we were and who we are. I'm not saying love your actions when you're being a jerk, but acknowledging your behavior and struggles during that time is key.
As a prime example, I struggled to greet people when they walked in a room just a few months ago. This happened even with my family on early weekend mornings. I just had too much social anxiety. Now, I try and reward myself for greeting someone first, and remember that there was a point in my life where it was a struggle.
I don't want to sound like a self-help book myself, but for anybody in the same situation as I am, I want you to know that someone knows how hard you're trying. Don't let others dictate your progress on the never-ending journey (god, there has to be another not-so-preachy word) toward self-help, and ironically, you will better yourself.
Personally, I have a tendency to live in the past, chastising both myself and others for things that happened a while ago. Years ago, heck even months ago, I was a completely different person. It's easy to look back on my past and judge myself for my actions - especially when I realize I spoke before I thought or made an incorrect assumption.
I can acknowledge mistakes I've made, and what I now know I should have done differently. But, as we go through life, we can't judge ourselves constantly, knowing we'll eventually be better. We can realize we should have done something differently, but learn from it and not let it sit with us.
If we avoid letting things go, similar to my strategy of avoiding vegetables, it will hinder both our mental and physical growth. (I'm 5'2. Do you think that's why I'm so short?) But, that's the thing about growth: it never stops. From the day you're born to the day you die, something inside you is always changing. Whether your limbs lengthen or your brain learns, you are constantly different. You need to own who you are before you try and improve upon it.
If you end up standing in Urban Outfitters torn between "You Are A Badass" and "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck" like I once was, my advice is this: learn to accept yourself, mistakes and all, before you try and change who you are. By the time you evaluate your past actions, you have already grown and shown your true character.
Actress and producer Sophia Bush put it best in a tweet that made its way to the cover of my 'motivation!' Pinterest board, while sparking inspiration for this article: "You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously." Bush is right. You are amazing as you are, and it's clear how much you're trying. We can all be a little bit better, starting with respecting ourselves.