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Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I made different choices.
Although I’ll never know what might have happened, I’m satisfied with what has transpired and where I am today.
One thing’s for sure; I can’t change the past. But I certainly allow myself every now and then to visit it briefly and see how I could have acted differently.
This is what makes life interesting after all—allowing ourselves to make mistakes while paving the way for the new versions of us to come to life.
I have surely taken risks again, but I’ve also learned a great deal from my previous mishaps.
Below are seven things I wish I had known sooner.
1. People won’t always understand your pain. Sometimes it upsets me that I can’t find empathy where I need it the most. A lack of empathy frustrates me, and I constantly expect people to pick up on my nonverbal indicators when I’m under the weather. Since everyone is different, it’s not always possible to receive what we might give so easily. For some people, developing empathy is extremely hard, but it doesn’t make them bad people. Instead of holding a grudge against someone who lacks empathy, I communicate my needs.
2. It’s okay to break the rules. Sometimes our predetermined rules limit us, and sticking to them when we have clearly developed a new set of beliefs might cause us pain and unhappiness. We struggle just because we don’t want to cheat ourselves. But having a rigid approach to rules is sometimes useless, and having a fixed mindset hinders us. Learn when to let go of your rules, especially if they no longer serve you.
3. Setting boundaries might upset some people. I’ve always believed that setting boundaries will make people love and respect us, but that’s not always true. Oftentimes telling someone what we accept and don’t accept might infuriate them; they feel as if their power has been taken away from them. However, protecting their feelings is not the point. We need to prioritize our well-being, even if it might upset someone else.
4. We don’t have to enjoy every minute. I have recently realized that carpe diem doesn’t always work for me. I’m not being negative; I’m being realistic. Life is hard, and so forcing myself to “seize the day” is unrealistic. What I can do, however, is accept every moment as it is without getting attached to the outcome.
5. Your heart will tell you everything you need to know. Please, listen to your intuition. With practice and patience, you can learn to understand the difference between what’s good and what’s bad. Trust that your inner voice is the only compass you will ever need.
6. Your mind will tell you lies. I have always known that my mind is unreliable, but not believing it is at times challenging. Because the voice in our heads is so goddamn loud, choosing to not listen to it can make us feel bad. Instead of chasing unrealistic patterns in our minds, we need to be mindful and develop self-awareness to identify negative/unhelpful thoughts and get rid of them.
7. You don’t have to fit in. It’s absolutely fine to not conform to the pressures and norms of society, and we have the absolute freedom to not live up to people’s expectations. In fact, living with a confined and incorrect identity can (and will, eventually) make us miserable. Do what feels right for you, whatever that may be.
What are some of the things you wish you had understood sooner? Share in the comments.