Mind yourself - 3 things I’ve learnt to do differently to change my life.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the privilege of taking time off to recouperate. During times of immense pressure both professionally and personally we take for granted how a few days dedicated to our mental health can really change our perspective.
I, as have many, experienced a challenging 2017, filled with unexpected twists that had led to a serious case of imposter syndrome. I felt as if all the failure I was experiencing was the world finally “catching up” to who I really was. I felt inadequate in so many spheres of my life and with that brought anxiety on a level I had never experienced before. I desperately wanted to come back home with “a good story to tell” but that certainly wasn’t the case and the more I tried to find quick fixes to the disappointment, the more I sunk into anxiety.
The first step I took to try and remedy some of my anxiety was to unfollow everyone I knew on Instragram. I realized over some time that this platform was triggering my imposter syndrome which further intensified my anxiety. All the people I followed for “inspiration” subconsciously became a reference from which I could start attacking myself. I kept feeling like my worth was tied to the impact I had on social media which according to Instagram I didn’t have much. So I pulled a Beyoncé and unfollowed and within a few days I began noticing a substantial change in my mood. I finally felt that I had a platform where I could still project what I loved without feeling an unhealthy influence to outdo others.
I arrived back in South Africa a week later and scheduled in days where I could catch up with those close to me. Immediately within the first few seconds of our conversations I realized just how many of my friends were going through similar difficulties. Each of them had a similar theme of feeling inadequate, unfulfilled, or unestablished in some shape or form. How could so many of us be going through the exact same thing and more importantly how could we not have reached out to each other? Although we had different matters that caused our “unhappiness” the pressure of appearing as if we had our lives figured out isolated us and resulted in meaningless likes and comments.
The surprising thing I had with each person was how I automatically felt better once I started to talk to them. It was as if a mist was disappearing and I could finally see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I won’t pretend that this time away didn’t have it’s fair share of problems and a deeply troubling matter that arose on the first week of my arrival was proof of that, however after talking to others about their experiences I simply felt I wasn’t alone. All of a sudden we were all talking to each other instead of past each other.
Now as I sit reflecting on my time at home, here are a few things I know for sure:
- You are not alone:- the way things have been set up in our world we will all undoubtedly feel the same emotions (perhaps to a varying degree) but they are the same nonetheless. Don’t take for granted how the people around you can help you get through really tough times. You know the saying “no man is an island”, well even for our emotions this remains true.
- You will fail times more than you will succeed and that’s ok:- this is something a close friend of mine told me and even though it’s a tough one to swallow it’s really true and surprisingly reassuring. If you know that not everything that you do will work out it takes the pressure off of trying so hard to make everything a success. You can quickly let go of things that no longer serve you and you can pursue new things sooner. The key is to diversify your goals to make sure that not all your hopes are in one basket.
- Take care of your mental health:- making your mental health a top priority can instantly alter how you approach life. Since coming out of an incredibly difficult time I see the importance of taking care of my mind. Recognizing that you constantly need to assess how you feel and taking measures to maintain a healthy mind can help substantially. You simply can’t get the perseverance and will power to succeed without taking care of your mind first.
Overall I learnt that who you are becoming everyday is more important than what you achieve. The back end of 2017 really forced me to ask the deeply personal questions behind my dreams. As uncomfortable as it was to really understand who I am, I believe it was paramount in gaining perspective. I’ve also learnt that taking care of your mind is a fundamental part of chasing after your dreams. So as I embark on a new journey into 2018, I’m now aware of my mental health and what I need to do maintain it. With better preparation and new opportunities, a renewed sense of hope is on the horizon.