Fifteen years ago I was a college graduate with big aspirations and very little worldly experience. In the intervening years, I have grown up a lot. Here are a few of the lessons I have gotten, expressed how I would want to communicate with my younger self (assuming that he would listen).
To my younger self (or anyone in that stage of life with ears to hear), I would say the following:
- Question your beliefs about happiness and success. What do you think happiness is? Success? Whatever your answer, how do you know this is right? Is this an idea that you created from your own personal experience, or did it come from someone else? How does this idea feel to you? Does it inspire and energize you, or does it make you tense or stressed out?
- Trust yourself. You are awesome. You have already accomplished so much, and you have many more awesome experiences and accomplishments coming up. Are you acknowledging your own abilities, and are you allowing yourself to anticipate all the good things coming your way? Moreover, are you living like your own instinct, intuitions, and preferences matter, and are you aligning with them?
- Be selective about the company you keep; it’s okay to fly solo sometimes. Are the people you are around people you will want to be around in 10 years? 20 years? for the rest of your life? If not, what are you getting out of being around them? Is it satisfying? How does being around them make you feel? What might you do differently to align with people that are great match (or go it alone for awhile)?
- Try to let go of the need for other people’s approval. Who are you trying to please with your choices in life? Is it making you happy? If you were truly living for your own personal satisfaction and fulfillment, would you be making the same choices? Or would you make different choices?
- Learn to see life as it is… not as worse than it is; be open. Question your assumptions about other people especially. Are you giving them a chance? Are you pre-judging them, and then reacting guardedly? If you assume the worst, how can you know that it is true? Are you giving people a fair shake? Are you questioning your own biases and opinions about life, and about the people around you?
- Follow your inner guidance. You’re a smart, conscientious, sensitive person… what inspires you? What lights you up? What feels right to you? Are you being who you want to be, as opposed to being who you think someone else wants you to be?
- Accept who you are. Accept who you are not. You will be happy doing and being what is in alignment than in trying to be someone you are not. Do you accept that you have both strengths and weaknesses, and are you willing to celebrate what is fun, good, and easy for you, and not overly-worry about the rest? What is going to give you lasting happiness and satisfaction in life? Are you living in the authentic image of your ideal self, or are you pursuing who you think you should be instead?
- Find your own answers; if you listen to others, make sure their answers truly align with you. Listen to other people’s ideas and advice, yet check to find what truly inspires you. Are you willing to say “no” when you don’t agree? Are you willing to stand on your own guidance, even if other people do not approve?