2019 was a big year. It was when I turned 21, learnt to drive a car, got certified as a Personal Trainer, and moved to another country. These were things that 2018 me would never believe I could do. Proving someone wrong has never felt so right, especially when that someone is your very self.
Believing in yourself is more important than ever, especially in your 20s. In contrast, the tendency to put myself down seemed to develop deeper and stronger as I grew older. I can not fathom the same words I tell myself now, to which I would say to my 6 year old self. The language of negativity, like ‘you will never be successful, good-looking nor happy enough in life’ has never been told, least even thought of to a 6 year old. So the question begs, why the heck do I constantly tell my current 22 year-old self this?
It seemed to me that somewhere between the growing stages as a free and happy child, the harshness of reality changed our lives forever. We start treating ourselves less than what we deserved and there begins the whole spiral of self-depreciation.
My most important takeaway from 2019 is that I need to love myself more. The journey to self-love is difficult and could last a lifetime. It’s filled with self-confrontation, self-doubt, and taking actions against your will. Self-love encompasses so much more than that actually, and I am still on my journey to figuring that out. So far, I am working on undoing years worth of mentality that’s been built around my whole belief system. For example, I used to take things personally because I’ve believed that it was meant personally. It was only until recently that not everything said and done, even if directly in my way, has anything to do with me. I’ve also had to break away from relationships which I would never have thought I needed to. Earlier this year I had to break up with someone that took a huge space in my heart, and till this date I am still learning to heal – this is something I am not ready to share yet. Learning to self-love now means to keep holding a high regard for my own well-being and happiness. It means being happy internally, and not having to rely on pleasing others. It also means to not settle for less than what I deserve.
2019 was where I’ve finally understood that life is short but I’m in it for the long run. While quick returns provides instant gratification, compound interest pays off better in the long run. I am self-conscious and care a lot about the way I look and eat. I am also someone who spends 4 to 5 days a week at the gym and follow the 80/20 food rule (80% healthy, 20% whatever). I followed my passion and got certified as a Personal Trainer just so I can make sure I am qualified to give gym advice to friends and family.
However, I am also a sucker when it comes to dieting. I’ve tried almost everything – Keto, Low-carb, Paleo, Veganism and High-protein. I’ve learnt the hard way that a 2 week long, starve-myself, 500-calories-a-day diet usually results in yo-yoing back to my original weight or more. It was through years of experimenting, trial and error that I finally accepted that lifestyle changes, consistency and patience is the only way I could keep the pounds off.
At the end of 2019 I came across the concept of compounding interest for the first time. As Albert Einstein says, “Compounding interest is the 8th wonder of the world.” If this concept is new to you, I highly recommend watching this 2 mins video by Investopia. In 2020 I’ve made a commitment to dedicate at least 2 hours each day to learn to become a intelligent investor.
The end of 2019 was also where I’ve addressed and accepted some of my own limitations. I was reading Mark Manson’s article on The 4 Stages of Life recently, where he briefly explained how we can split our life into 4 different parts. First, we grow to fit societal standards through a search for approval and validation. Next, we seek to find ourselves, understanding what we are good at and what we aren’t. This is where we discover our own limitations, and for me, I’ve discovered that I am not genetically-gifted and would have to double any effort in achieving athletic-success. In the third stage, after trial-and-errors in stage 2 and knowing our strengths and weaknesses, we then double down on the most important relationships and life missions, maximising our potential. Stage 3 is so critical, because it is where we build our legacy, and what we will eventually leave behind in this world. Only when we feel that we have maxed ourselves out, will we retire into Stage 4. By Mark Manson’s words, “many people stay in Stage 3, because they don’t know how to let go of their ambition and constant desire for more. This inability to let go of the power and influence they crave counteracts the natural calming effects of time and they will often remain driven and hungry well into their 70s and 80s.” While the harsh truth of knowing ‘you will never be good enough’ feels pretty awful, being able to accept and move on, rediscovering what one is actually good at, will bring far more advantages and happiness in the long run.
Lastly, I’ll like to bring forward to 2020, the consistency of being grateful. Developing a grateful perspective towards life has brought me much joy. Appreciating small things and finding joy in ordinary experiences allowed me to gain hope, motivation and love for others. It is easy to take things for granted. We concentrate too often on the have-nots, rather than haves. Simplest things like having home-cooked meals have gone unappreciated until it’s gone, much less things of grander scale. In 2019 I’ve started keeping a ‘grateful journal’ and if there’s one thing my readers can take away from this post, is that you try doing the same. Just by writing 10 things that you’re grateful for each day will bring an immense impact into your daily life. Take it as a 5 minute me-time, and place the journal where you can see to remind yourself everyday. The best way to benefit from gratefulness is by making it a habit.
I look forward to having positive habits in 2020, and another year of proving my self-doubts wrong.