Are We Destroying Ourself?

To What Degree Is Self-Improvement Really Good For Us?

I'm improving myself, aren't I? How becoming your truest self leads to losing yourself altogether.

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Take on the weight loss challenge of 20 pounds, and work towards a better, fitter you!

Want to better yourself? Clearer skin and shinier hair is the first step.

If you eat these certain foods and avoid those ones, then you'll improve your body in a matter of weeks!

Self-improvement. It's a term that's constantly surrounding us, we read of friends posting on social media about how they're "working to better" themselves. We hear of advertisers claiming that their products focus on "improvement" for you. Wherever and whoever you are, they're everywhere. However, how long until the concept of bettering yourself turns into a seemingly eternal journey of worsening yourself? How long until the desire for clearer skin, longer hair, and thinner legs leads to a never-ending road of insecurity and uncertainty? How long until this consuming idea of self-improvement transforms itself into a twisting, torturing idea of self-impoverishment instead?

In all honesty, I must confess that from the age of 14 to 18, I was an avid supporter of self-improvement. I was fascinated by self-help books, encouraged my friends to focus on themselves and how they can be their "best self", and even invested hundreds of dollars into detoxes, cleanses, and whatever else I had convinced myself would ultimately make me a new, novel person. However, come senior year of high school, my definition of "improvement" had drastically changed. Rather than focus on how I can become a kinder and harder-working person, I had begun to focus on how I can become a thinner, more conventionally "pretty" person. I had improved myself into impoverishment; my body and mind were drained, starving, and empty. I couldn't help but wonder to myself where I went wrong: I had read the books, motivated my friends, and bought the products. What was I missing?

What I had been missing was an accurate sense of self. I had approached the massive, heterogeneous idea of my own "self" without having any freaking clue what it even was! Rather, I had dove head-first into the pool of improvement with a senseless idea of what my "self" could be. I had surrounded my thoughts with imaginations of the achievements I could make and the external milestones I could mark; If I work out hard enough, I will go down a jean size and feel confident. If I whiten my teeth long enough, my smile will look pretty. If I take enough supplements, my diet will automatically improve. For so long, I was micro-focusing my thoughts on the dream of myself, rather than the reality of myself.

By no means am I criticizing those who genuinely strive towards change or evolution. I am simply arguing that the idea of self-improvement is approaching transformation with the wrong equation. "Fake Self" + "Hard Work" does NOT equal "Better True Self". In other words, in order to know how to better ourselves, we must know truly know ourselves first. We can't spend our time chasing after an authentic life by trying to improve a mere illusion. However, what we CAN spend our time chasing after is a thorough understanding of our most genuine self. We CAN focus on our personal internal capabilities. We CAN make goals toward grasping our full, emotional selves. We CAN look at the attributes and qualities that we already have to offer, and see how those can be improved, emphasized, and utilized in a positive and impactful manner.

Although this may seem impossible, it's not. Challenging? Yes. Tiring? 100%. Yet, the encouraging thing to remember is that we have all the tools already. All that is left is the incentive to begin searching for the reality and open our eyes and ears to what is out there for us. I have a secret for you: there is no end-goal. As mind-boggling and possibly surprising as that may be, the truth is that the journey itself is the goal. In the uplifting words of Lao Tzu, "be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you".

Put down that self-improvement book. Cancel the order for those supposedly life-changing supplements and vitamins. Eat that warm and gooey brownie that you've been restricting yourself from. Give yourself the freedom and opportunity to really experience your truest self, because I promise you: that is the only self-improvement you really need.

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The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.
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When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

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If Shonda Can Do A Year Of Yes, Then So Can I

Yes.

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A few years ago, Shonda Rimes decided to do a year of saying yes, after her sister told her she says "No" to everything. It ended up changing her life.

So, I've decided to embark on my own year of yes.

Sure, it may be easy to say yes to everything when you're a millionaire with a bunch of record-setting televisions shows, but the rest of us can do it too.

Say yes to treating yourself.

Say yes to taking care of yourself.

Say yes to saying no, don't stretch yourself too thin.

Say yes to new opportunities

The year of yes is about taking better care of yourself.

My year of yes starts right now.

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