As 2017 flutters by, I make some vows to myself. No, these are not New Year resolutions made to be followed in the coming year only to be forgotten a few days later. These are vows of a 25 year old to herself, who had refused to acknowledge that a tough life exists and that tough people exist who despite how much you try to please would never be pleased with you, because it’s not their priority unlike you (so don’t take it to your heart).
Yes, life is tough and yes, it does get too suffocating sometimes that you don’t get enough time or space to listen to your own thoughts, but it always gets better. Believe that it always gets better, because it always has.
When you were 18, 20-year-olds looked like they were fully grown adults. When you were 21, you thought your life would be settled by 25, everything figured out. You would have fully matured, learnt all the realities of life. But at 25, I realize we never really figure out life, we may only try to. We never really mature enough. I might have been mature enough for my age, even perhaps more mature than any other 28 year old for that matter, but under what parameters? Balancing work-life? Making family decisions? Saving money? Making new friends? Handling love life? Life is never the same for two people. Everyone has to deal with different circumstances, different realities and different strokes of luck. What we might call crazy may be completely normal for others. What others might pity about you could be something that makes you proud.
So here are some vows I make with my 25 year old self to stand by:
1. Don’t be too harsh on yourself
Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Only you know what you have been through. You alone have experienced your journey. So don’t be too disappointed when people close to you (let alone others) do not understand. They don’t know the whole story.
Never criticize yourself on how you could have done better under those circumstances that you faced. You know you did your best. You know you couldn’t do any better. It wasn’t just written for you. The timing wasn’t right. Don’t stress yourself for it.
2. Don’t expect. Period.
Expectations kill. It’s a lesson learnt the hard way. Never expect from people. People disappoint. If ‘people’ had a synonym, it would be ‘disappointment’. Be good to people. But never expect goodness in return. Be kind but never expect kindness in return. People are generally indifferent. They don’t give second thoughts. Why does the kindness of strangers make us so happy? Because we least expect it. So the more we expect, the less satisfied we would be.
3. Be patient
However you work hard, you have to wait for the results eventually. And trust me, the results wouldn’t be the ones you have wanted—this is where you have to be patient. This is a gray area. There are no black and white answers. What you might think best, might not be best for you. So try again if you will, but keep an open mind about consequences.
4. Have faith
Point 3 automatically brings me to perhaps the most important promise to myself—having faith. Having faith might be the easiest and yet the most difficult thing to do sometimes. For things we don’t have any control, we can’t help but let them be. We leave it to God (or whatever you might believe in) despite having insecurities. It’s easy because we couldn’t do anything even if we wanted to. And yet it could be the most gruesome, self-tiring chore to do. For having faith requires patiently enduring our inner struggles for everything we have stood up for and worked hard. And it doesn’t just end there. Having faith requires us to accept the results as they come, with our head held high, because that is what’s best at the given time and therefore it has been given to us. It might look like we have been cheated, not given what we deserved (and that God has been unjust and whatnot), but trust me, it’s always for the best.
The lessons in defeat, in heartbreak, in going low, in acceptance, would prove to be your lifelong mentors. The timing would be so perfect, only you would understand later.
So don’t rush. Have faith.
You have smiled too many times for people. It’s time you smile for yourself. There are far too many reasons. For one, it gives you wrinkles at the right places.
6. Surround yourself with good music
Good music makes good memories. Or rather, good memories are made even better with good music. So listen to new songs, make mixtapes, send them to people you love (but remember point 2 above), play old songs, write about them, write about memories associated with them and don’t forget to make new ones.