To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure how to write this article.
In the past, I've written about the lies we tell ourselves. I've written about how thoughts can be destructive, how they can have power over who we are.
I figured that by telling people some common lies, they could find some common truths.
However, there are also truths that are not so common--truths that aren't always so clear.
And so, driving on my way back to campus this evening, I began brainstorming some of those truths.
Some are personal. Some may seem obvious. Some may seem hard.
They're all needed. So friends, as we move through 2021, fill your mind with these 21 truths.
Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard.
1. Setting boundaries doesn't make you mean.
I know what you're thinking. Oh no. She's starting off with a hard truth. Yes, this is a hard truth, but it's something that I've had to tell myself over and over. I'm a people-pleaser and a perfectionist--quite the combination, I know--and I thrive on making other people happy. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with making people happy. The problem is when we put so much emphasis on disappointing others or fulfilling their needs that we start disappointing ourselves. Of course, if you say you're going to do something, follow through. If you don't want to do something, it's OK to say no. It's OK to disappoint people. It's OK to take time for yourself. It's OK to step away from friendships or romantic relationships. It's OK to set boundaries with yourself, too.
2. You don't have to be good at everything the first time--or at all.
I'm so guilty of getting frustrated if I'm not good at something the first time. Over break, I tried learning to crochet. I'm left-handed and let me tell you, learning to crochet from a right-handed book is hard. It's frustrating, and the perfectionist in me wanted to give up soon after I started. My grandma was so patient in trying to teach me, and I just didn't get it. It took days for me to make a simple chain, but I finally did it--and I was better for it. I know there are a lot harder things in our world than crocheting. Maybe the thing you're trying seems daunting. Maybe you just don't get it at first, or maybe you don't think you'll ever get it. That's OK. I've learned that being enthusiastic about something is often better than being good at it. Try the thing. Try it again. Be eager to learn. You don't have to be the best to enjoy something.
3. You don't have to have everything figured out.
I'm one of those people who would have the rest of my life planned out today if I could. I've realized that no amount of planning or anxiety or worry can make me figure everything out. I know that it's easy to look at other people--whether it's in line at the store, on social media, at work, or in a lecture hall--and assume that they have it all figured out. As someone who has been in all of those places, take this as your friendly reminder that at least one other person doesn't have it figured out. None of us do. Give grace, be kind, and realize that the unknown is what makes us human.
4. It's OK to let go, even if letting go takes longer than you thought it would.
If there's one thing that I'm absolutely terrible at, it's letting go. I can honestly sit here and tell you what some girl in my second-grade class said to me on the last day of school 11 years ago. I can tell you what someone said when we got into an argument six months ago, and I can tell you all the ways that I hold on to things each and every day without even realizing it. Something that's been helpful for me is putting the 'palms up' method to practice. It's hard to hold on to things when your palms are facing up. When your palms are up, you loosen your grip. When your palms are up, you become OK with leaving some things behind. When your palms are up, you let go, even if loosening your grip takes weeks or months or years. Give in to the process and keep your palms up.
5. Sometimes, the thing that seems irrational is the best thing to do.
Some of the best memories come from things that aren't planned. Of course, use discernment and be wise with your choices. That being said, if you want to make an ice cream run on a Monday night, do it. If you want to take a break from studying or dye your hair or apply for a new job, do it. I'm a big believer that if it feels right, it's probably the right thing to do. Take the risk. Give in to the process. I promise it will be worth it.
6. Things don't always work out the way we want them to, but they often work out better than we could have ever imagined.
Life doesn't make sense a lot of the time. I've realized that I don't understand some things that have happened to me, and maybe you don't, either. That doesn't mean that meaning can't come from things we don't yet understand. Maybe you've faced loss or confusion lately. Maybe you're feeling hopeless or overwhelmed with work. That's OK. There's a purpose for every season. There's a purpose for every heartbreak. There's a purpose in every single thing, but it's not your job to understand that purpose right away.
7. Good is better than perfect.
Writing this one out is a good exercise in trying to take my own advice. I am a raging perfectionist in every way I can imagine. I'm still very much learning that sometimes done is better than perfect. I'm still very much learning that perfection is fleeting. I'm still learning that faithfulness wins over flawlessness. Maybe you are, too. I'm here to remind you that being perfect isn't a gold medal to wear around your neck. It's not something that people will remember you for, or at least, I hope not. There are so many better things to be than perfect. Kind. Honest. Faithful. Good. Be these things instead.
8. Listening is just as--if not more--important as talking.
Here's something else I'm still learning. I'm a major extrovert, and I love to talk. People joke that sometimes, I love to hear the sound of my own voice. They're probably right. Lately, I've been trying to be intentional about listening not only to respond, but listening just to listen. I've been trying to be intentional about how I can show people that they're valued, loved, and worth it through my actions. It's a daily challenge, but it's so worth the effort. Don't get me wrong. By all means, use your voice to speak life into the lives of others, but realize that people often need someone to listen more than they need someone to give advice right away.
9. You don't have to justify your choices to others.
Every day, it seems like I have people ask me to justify my choices. Of course, they might not come out and say it directly, but it seems like almost everyone has an opinion about everything. Having opinions isn't wrong, and seeking guidance from others isn't wrong, either. The problem comes when we put so much worth into justifying our lives that we stop living them. If you're really living, you'll probably let others down. You'll probably let yourself down, too. You don't have to explain everything to others, and you don't have to explain them to yourself.
10. Your attitude matters more than you know.
The whole reason that I'm writing this article because I know our thoughts have power. Our words have power. Our expectations have power. Approach every day not out of obligation, but out of opportunity. Embrace the truth that you get to wake up and experience another day on Earth. Embrace the truth that you get to wake up and have challenges and make mistakes. Understand that you have the opportunity to make new mistakes each day and learn from them. Embrace the truth that you get to be human to the fullest. Embrace the truth that you can, and you should. Think about these things.
11. You have a purpose, even if you don't know it quite yet.
It seems like everywhere we go, people are trying to find their purpose. Some may try and find it in a relationship or in money or in a career. Others may try to find it in desires or hobbies or routine. Some may not even know where to start. If you're one of those people, you're not alone. I'm a big believer that everyone has a purpose, and my faith plays a huge role in that belief. I'm also a big believer that sometimes, we unintentionally avoid our true purpose by trying to rush into finding what we think is our purpose. Give in to the process. Give in to the confusion. Try some things. Fail at some. Get back up. Try again. Rest. You'll find it eventually.
12. It's normal to outgrow relationships and old ways of thinking.
When we talk about growth, it's often about our successes or victories or major life lessons. None of these things are wrong, but growth isn't just those things. Sometimes, growth hurts. Sometimes, growth is confusing and messy. Sometimes, growth looks a whole lot like loss. If you're not the same person you were a week ago, embrace it. It's OK if you moved on from who you used to be, too. Give yourself grace.
13. Chances are, no one noticed.
I've realized that we tend to put so much gravity into the little things, whether it be a little mistake or a pimple or a wardrobe malfunction or a clumsy act. Chances are, no one noticed. Chances are, people are so consumed worrying about their own little things that they aren't taking the time to notice yours. If you want to wear an acne patch and a messy bun to get ice cream, go do it. I'm speaking from experience here. If you trip on a curb, laugh it off. That's also speaking from experience. Life is too short to obsess about the little things, so be human to the fullest. People will notice that instead.
14. Taking time to do what's good for the soul is so, so needed.
It's so necessary to take time for your soul and your mental health. That might look a little different for everyone, but take time to find out what works for you and do it. For me, it's going on random ice cream runs. Yes, I know that I've mentioned ice cream at least four times in this article. For you, it might be taking a nap, watching the sunset, going for a drive, or taking time to write. Find your thing and do it.
15. It's OK if you don't have a huge group of friends.
Growing up, I envied people who had large groups of friends. Now, I realize that having large groups of friends isn't all that worth envying over. I've always been someone who prefers to stick to a smaller group because that's what works best for me. If you have a huge group of friends and that works for you, I'm happy for you! That being said, it's OK if you're not incredibly popular. It's OK if you don't have plans every Friday night. Do what works for you. Take time to yourself, too. Know that the ones you surround yourself with have a huge impact on your mental health. Choose some good ones.
16. Social media doesn't tell the whole story.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Social media is but a highlight reel. Yes, social media is wonderful for sharing ideas and keeping in touch, but it can also be harmful to one's mental health. I hope you have the discernment to know when to walk away. I hope you have the courage to realize that who you are authentically is more than enough. I hope you know that we all have moments where we feel less than or confused or anxious. You're not alone.
17. There are far more interesting things about you than your clothing size.
Sure, maybe you aren't the size you were back in middle school. Maybe you aren't the size you were pre-quarantine. That's OK, too. There are far more interesting things about you than your clothing size. I don't know about you, but it's still a daily struggle for me to look in the mirror and love myself. Some days, it's hard. Some days, it's easy. Know that on both of those types of days, you are loved all the same.
18. Feel deeply.
I've been told that I'm too sensitive at times, and honestly, I've started to consider that a compliment. Don't let other people tell you what or how much to feel. I'd much rather be known for my empathy and emotions and ability to connect with others than my ability to hold it all in. Take it all in. Take in moments of joy, moments of pain, and everything in between. Take everything in, because those are the moments that make you who you are.
19. Not everyone needs access to your life.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. You need to protect the energy and community around you. Not everyone needs access to your life, and you don't need access to theirs. This might look a little different for everyone, but the idea is that you're mindful of the boundaries that you put in place. Delete his number. Tell her that you don't want to hang out today. Unfollow her on social media, and be OK if they unfollow you, too.
20. What you do matters.
What you do every single day matters. How you act matters. How you speak to others matters. How you speak to yourself matters. Open yourself up to the reality that the choices you make have weight. The choices you make matter. Will you mess up? Sure. Will every choice be obvious? Probably not. At the end of the day, I hope you know that your actions and words have power. Use them well.
21. The best is yet to come. You got this.
I'll end this article by saying that you are wildly capable, oh so brave, and worthy of every good thing that comes your way. I know that 2021 seems daunting right now. There are so many unknowns, but there are some knowns, too. One of those knowns is that the best is yet to come. There is joy that comes after pain. There is hope that comes after loss. There is so much worth living for each and every day. You got this. Go make 2021 a good one.