In my post about 6 life lessons I wrote how important it is to follow your intuition and stop comparing yourself with other people. I’m writing this post because I want to go into that a little bit more.
I feel like your twenties should be called the ‘adult developmental stage’, because I’ve grown up so much and learned so much about myself. I literally have ‘aha moments’ every week and think ‘why haven’t I realized this before’? One of these is the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time figuring myself out by what would look good, fun or interesting to the outside world. I have wasted a lot of energy doing things I didn’t really like because I believed it ‘looked good’. That’s why I decided to write a blogpost on this issue: how it looks versus how it feels, because there’s a huge difference. Life changing! For me, at least.
The power of accepting yourself
I already wrote a long post about trusting your instincts and how important it is to trust your gut. But there’s something else that’s very important here: the power of accepting yourself. A lot of people fail to listen to that inner voice that tells them so much about themselves. And for what reason? Maybe because they want to be something other than they are; more adventurous, more creative, more social, smarter… It’s a tiresome struggle, because essentially you are in conflict with yourself. Being true to who I am has been a constant battle but there’s nothing more liberating than accepting yourself the way you are. There’s always room for change, but accepting yourself with both your strengths and weaknesses is such an important part of growing up.
So how to accept yourself? I feel it always helps to try and describe yourself in five words or less. What words or characteristics best describe you? For a long time I defined myself by being quite smart and by my ability to study hard. My mother also noticed and at a young age told me I would be a great lawyer because I was so good at memorizing long texts. She also always told me I was very ‘serious’ and that’s how I always saw myself. I wasn’t creative or fun, I was ‘serious’. Of course my mother isn’t the one to blame for this, because for a long time this is also how I saw myself. I had forgotten that as a child I always wrote long stories and spent hours outside conducting plays by myself. I always loved to write and play, so where did that go? I grew up and decided I was done playing and had to get ‘serious’. Such a shame!
Choices I’ve made
So I went to law school, decided I hated it, and spent many more years at university, working hard, and now I am in the final stages of getting my PhD. I also spent some time working in television, because I thought being a hip production person working in TV must look very cool to the outside world. Although I have never regretted the choices I have made, a lot of these choices have been mainly fuelled by ‘how does it look?’ instead of ‘how does it feel?’. I have never fully followed my feelings, because I wanted to be ‘smart’. I wanted to be independent and earn money. I still want those things, but there’s so many ways to earn money – and earning money from something that feels good has to be life’s biggest achievement.
Accept who you are
So far my twenties have been hectic and I’m kind of glad I’m nearing the end (I’ll be 29 in August). So much focus has been on making important life choices and finding myself and I feel like I’m always running towards something, without ever getting anywhere. It must get calmer in the next 10, 20 years, which is why so many people with a ‘mid-life crisis’ suddenly decide to quit their jobs and do something they love. But I don’t want to wait until then. I want to do ‘what feels good’ now, and we all should.
The most important life lesson in this respect is that what’s fun for one person, is not necessarily fun for you. There are a lot of people who are passionate lawyers or are happily working in TV, but that’s not me. My road is different and that’s okay. Accepting this may be difficult, but if you can do it you’ll be on your way to becoming the best and happiest you. You can spend your life working hard at something that looks good, but you don’t really enjoy, or spend your life doing something you love which will never really feel like work. The choice really is as simple as that. Choose yourself, accept who you are, decide what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing, without thinking about how it looks to the outside world. You are the one who has to live with your choices every second of every day so try and make yourself happy, above anyone else.
Note: if there are any examples from your life where you followed your own intuition you’d like to share with me I would love to hear them!