This past month was my birthday, and although the number into which I've turned is insignificant, I can't say that this past year was yet another meaningless year. Now don't get too excited, I'm still fairly young so my milestones so far have been pretty close together. I've graduated high school, college, moved out and away from my parents, moved in with my significant other, and adopted a dog within the past decade. Things that aren't necessarily mindblowingly amazing, but many milestones within a short period of time--you get the idea.
However, within this single year I've struggled with more battles than I could have imagined entering it, and have overcome more than I have given myself credit for. Here are just a few things that I've learned so far.
If you want to do something, like REALLY do something, do it.
Now I'm not talking substances or giving you an argument for your defense attorney, but a little something to think about when you're feeling a bit stuck. For the first half of this past year, I was a science teacher for elementary school kids. I was then offered a job at a nonprofit to manage other science educators. During this time I was a freelance model and kept myself sane by indulging in serious retail therapy. What I discovered from my jobs was: I hated teaching. I also hated managing. I didn't enjoy the scrutiny that went hand in hand with education, or the lack of support that education was infamous for. After a brief meltdown and some serious thought, I quit my job and steered full speed toward the occupation that I've yearned for a long time: acting. I researched acting classes, found myself an agent, and started preparing for a lifelong, but hopefully rewarding struggle to being an actress.
I know that my solution is not technically a solution, nor is it the end of my journey towards achieving a career. However, it could be a temporary solution in saving my sanity, and gratifying my inner ID.
Take care of yourself, you're the one who is stuck with you.
I'm talking mentally, emotionally, and physically here. Let's start with the simplest one to tackle: physically. This past year, I lost 22 pounds, incorporated exercise into my lifestyle, and started watching what went into my body. I initially started this regime because my father told me that I was too fat for television. I was 5'5" and weighed 138 pounds. However, as I lost the weight, I realized that I felt better and more alert. I also looked better and began loving my body for the first time in my life. Not that I would go back and thank my father for his mindless criticism, but that was the first step towards self-acceptance for me.
I don't really have a single answer for how to improve yourself mentally and emotionally since everyone comes with a different story. I do know that I am not yet finished with this process myself, but hope to do so with each passing year.
The point of this lesson is that in the long run, you are the only one who will stay with you indefinitely. It's important for you to accept the person that you are, and if you don't like something about yourself, then improve it. No I am not advocating plastic surgery, but rather a characteristic of your personality. If you think you are too shy, the push yourself to talk to one new person each day. At the store, at work, in a cafe-- there are plenty of people out there that could benefit from your company.
It's okay to hold a grudge.
Now this is the one that will receive the most push-back. This happens to everyone: you come across a person in your life that performs an unthinkable wrong towards you and you now grimace at the thought of their name. While countless people will tell you that the solution is to forgive and forget, I find that this is an impossibly difficult feat, even for a Zen master.
My solution is to keep the grudge, there was a reason that it was created, and unless that person shows you a selfless act of self-sacrifice, why bother making it harder on yourself to understand and accept their actions?
Now you must be thinking, "Kai, I can no longer take you seriously because this is bullshit advice." Hang in there. The secret to holding a grudge is that you can't let that grudge take over you. Grudges are powerful things, they cut relationships short and can wreak havoc on your subconscious. Before taking that big step to obtaining your grudge, ask yourself if this person is even worth your effort. Should you really use one on the girl in accounting who cut you off during a meeting? Is it truly necessary to use one for your friend who told you that you looked fat in that top? Save them for when you really need them, and even then, know that they exist, but don't make them a part of you.
Well these are just a few things that I've learned this past year that I wanted to share. You may take them or leave them or pick out what you'd like, but remember that they are only here to help.
What did you learn this year?