I know it’s already five days into the new year and everyone is already posting their (same old) brand new resolutions or done their round up of 2014. So this post is a little like…late?
For me, I didn’t even think I’d be writing this post until I had a wonderful night chatting with one of my loveliest girl friends, Amande, while we were on a weekend staycation. As I was sharing my experiences, I realised that whatever we talked about was revolved around what I learnt in 2014 (last quarter to be exact). That was when I thought, “Why not blog about it?” So here it is: the 5 Life Changing Lessons I Learnt at 25.
1. Being Responsible has Nothing to Do with Blame
Blame has no part in a responsible story, but it has a part in a victim story.
It’s either one or the other, be responsible or be a victim, not both.
Shouldering blame or putting the blame on someone else is in no way responsible. Let me illustrate. Here are two scenarios, and neither are responsible and a real life example of something that used to happen very often in my life – feeling taken for granted by friends:
- If my friend was more pro-active, I wouldn’t be so tired and work so hard on making this friendship work. I’ve already done so much!
- It’s all my fault. I’m feeling so tired and no matter how hard I try I can’t do anything to make this friendship work.
In scenario 1, I’m a victim of someone else and if someone else did something, I wouldn’t feel so “wronged” or taken for granted. In scenario 2, I’m a victim of myself and I’m focusing on what’s wrong with me, staying in a standstill with regret and immobilised by emotional self punishment. In neither story is there any responsibility nor solving of anything. It’s basically just a state of “giving up” and key message is there is someone to BLAME, someone WRONG. Being a victim does nothing to make things better for myself and others, it does however, give me a fantastic JUICY story to tell.
Being responsible requires me to let go of who is being right or wrong, put aside blame, and to just look at different perspectives and acknowledging it before finding a solution to make things better than before. This is not to justify what has been done or take away someone else’s responsibility in the matter. It just means, hey, let’s move on from here and leave this better than it was before.
2. People in my Life Don’t Live by My Rules or Roles
Not getting the response I want? Why? Because people are not robots, they don’t live for me alone.
Does this sound familiar because it is hella familiar to me, #justsaying:
- I wouldn’t do this to my partner. I wouldn’t be so friendly with other guys/girls and I would rather not fraternize with them because I am a good boyfriend/girlfriend for my partner. Why can’t he do the same for me?
- I spend lots of money on gifts for my partner without thinking. It’s natural. I want him/her to treat me the same way, not do it only when prompted or when he/she sees I have done it first.
The funny thing is, who determines what a “good partner” is like? I have my own definition and so does my partner. The same can be applied to friends, family, colleagues and the list goes on. We all beliefs of how being a “good [insert role here]” is gonna look like, the thing is, it’s all gonna be different.
Not accepting that people do not all think the same way I do, judge themselves on the same scale and revolve around me, my beliefs, my rules and my roles, just means I’ll never feel happy. If I want to feel loved and accepted, I’ll have to look at their beliefs, their rules, their roles as well and recognise when they show love in their own way. The key is in accepting that when they don’t behave as I expect, it’s not that they don’t love or appreciate me.
The same goes when I wish to show love to someone I care about and they react opposite to what I expect (e.g. when I give advice out of concern and they get angry with me). It’s entirely possible, that they were expecting me to give them support in a certain way and I didn’t do that. Again not that it’s right or wrong, but if I focus on them and leaving them better off than without me instead of how I feel and how I “don’t deserve this for helping them”, I’ll figure out a way to be responsible AND support them in a way that they are able to accept and acknowledge that I care (even if it is not in the way they initially wanted).
3. “At Least I Worked Hard” is Not Consolation for a Lack of Result.
Working hard without taking into account results is just a nice way to deny my responsibility for the outcome.
I love working damn hard and choosing the hardest route. This is driven by my belief that hard work reaps results. The fact is, it’s not true. Yes, hard work does sometimes equate to good results, but not always. When it doesn’t, it makes sense to stop and re-evaluate what’s being done before choosing to do something differently.
“At least I worked hard” is usually being said when no results follow, but it really means nothing and offers me nothing but a back door to escape through. Instead of facing my results, and then responsibly looking at how I can do something differently, I choose to comfort myself with the fact that I have worked damn hard and not everyone is capable of that.
The best example I have is about my fat loss. Insisting on doing this the “hard” way of exercising myself to death, more than four times a week but refusing to cut my calories because I believe this is the “best” way to do it. When it didn’t work and instead left me fatigued, I got emotional and frustrated. If I continued to tell myself, “at least I worked hard”, I’ll continue doing the same thing and get stuck in the same bloody cycle. If I just acknowledge my results, that it didn’t work, I’d look for new ways to do it – maybe even easier ones to see if that works!
4. I Am Enough.
There’s no need to be perfect when the flaws are beautiful too. Really.
I wrote about this lesson in A Breakdown Waiting To Happen. It’s a knee-jerk reaction for me to do everything on my own and not let people see me when I’m vulnerable and breaking. It’s so automatic for me to want to be perfect and be “good enough”. What is with my desire to be perfect?!
I read somewhere about the Japanese art of Kintsugi which is the art of mending broken ceramics by filling it with gold, what emerges is something more beautiful than when it was perfect and whole; the flaws fully celebrated and shown for all to see. The cracks are a visible reminder of imperfection, but who cares… it’s beautiful anyway.
Similarly, even as we are broken, we can come out of that, heal and then show the world the struggles, the “ugly” side, the insecurities… “The Cracks” and it can become something amazing.
Why hide the cracks or throw something broken away? There is no need to. By embracing challenges and my personal “weaknesses” and flaws, just being who I am, and asking for support, I am better than before like a broken ceramic plate with the cracks filled in with shiny, luxurious gold. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that being vulnerable and accepting that imperfections don’t make me any less than who I am. I am enough.
5. Every End is a New Beginning.
Nothing ends without something new beginning.
I used to always feel tired and frustrated that after I reached one goal, another would come or I had to keep on doing it, and there was NO END. It was always such suffering. Maybe I started out being excited, happy to embark on challenge after challenge. As time went by, I started looking at things rather differently, approaching challenges with disdain and feeling exhausted and alone, that things always ended only to have a new “problem” appear again. At the back of my mind, I always hoped that I could stop everything once I got to where I wanted to be. But really, there will be no end.
If I were to apply all the lessons I learnt from 2014 and approach all my challenges, I’ll realise that it’s not really a “problem” that each time something ends, something new will begin again. In fact, taking on a new attitude towards my life and accepting that life and everything in it is transient, allows me to see that I am responsible for how I experience each scenario. It is my choice to struggle and suffer or to enjoy the process. It’s a lifelong journey to always choose the latter until it becomes an intrinsic and natural first choice in every part of my life.
Instead of lamenting about the rain and complaining about how I wish it would end sooner, I could choose to dance in it, enjoy the coolness of rain drops on my skin. If I’m caught in it already, why worry about catching a cold? If I am drenched and I catch a cold, then I do. In the meanwhile, I might as well enjoy it.