In the midst of new classes, blossoming friendships, and the hectic schedule of everyday life, it can be hard to prioritize our grounding ideals. I think that this is such an important topic to discuss though, since I feel like most people don't always recognize when we are compromising them.
I think it is also necessary to point out that this is not the same as personal growth. Don’t get me wrong, evolving and maturing with your morals is a vital part of figuring out your identity. We all experience new situations and explore different interests on a daily basis. This means that our values are also changing and evolving constantly, but it is how we hold true to those that makes all the difference.
For me, I know that the start of a new opportunity or being in a vulnerable situation tends to make me question my personal beliefs. Let’s use the example of transitioning into college. When you first arrive, it can be a really overwhelming time in your life (at least for me it was!). You are suddenly pressured with choosing a career, creating friendships, and let’s not forget about all of the adult decisions that are now included with your newfound independence.
With all of the amazing new opportunities and experiences that come with life, there are also times of self-doubt and conformity. It is often much easier to just “do what everyone else is doing”, instead of staying true to what you think is right. The more responsibility and independence I get, I have learned that it is ultimately up to you to figure out how you’re going to live your life. Nobody is going to hold your hand and throw you a party when you do the right thing, and they also may not always offer to help you when you do something wrong. Integrity is something that you have to implement on your own— and making your values a priority will only help to lead you along the best path possible.
Below I have listed some of the ways that have been really beneficial to me while figuring out how to balance the craziness that is life, and which I hope will help you to stay true to your personal goals as well:
Explore and find values that are important to you.
As soon as you start to figure out who you are and what your non-negotiable morals are, it will be much easier to stick to them— and even find others who hold those same values as you as well.
Surround yourself with people who hold you accountable to your ideals.
I don’t think I can stress this one enough. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that it’s okay to be picky when choosing friendships. Finding others who support you and build you up will only benefit you in the long run. Plus, whenever life gets a little crazy, these people will help to keep you grounded to the values that you may be tempted to stray from.
Stand up for yourself.
Trust me, there will be many times in your life where people will have differing viewpoints from you. Part of getting to know someone is to find out what they are most interested in, and what they think is most important in their lives as well. An important aspect of sticking to your values is to listen to others with an open mind. It is totally okay (encouraged even) to defend your opinions, and to be passionate about your morals. However, I think that we should also keep in mind that every one of us is different— and that we can have our own values, without putting down others’ along the way.
It’s ok to learn from your mistakes.
I’m sure you all have heard the saying “what doesn't kill you makes you stronger” (Kelly Clarkson reference anyone?), but often times we usually just brush these experiences under the rug. It can be embarrassing, shameful, or even upsetting to think back to a time where we did something that wasn't in line with our character. Instead of feeling bad about the mistake, why don't we acknowledge it— so that we can actually learn from it and understand what else was going on at the time. Our values are evolving all the time, and being open about our struggles will only make it easier to get back on track.
I hope you take the time to explore your interests, and to figure out the things that truly make you happy. Whether it be volunteering, spending time with your family, being honest, etc.-- having personal ideals is part of what makes us who we are. Once you find these things, it is important to hold onto them and make them a priority in your everyday life. There will be many people and experiences who will try to lead you away from what you value, but just remember that it is never too late to get back on your path. xoxo