- The phone numbers of people you should never have the option to contact again if and when temptation strikes, social media connections with people you feel you have to constantly prove yourself to, and the general presence of those who you’ve simply outgrown.
FAIL: I kind of like the temptation of the tenuous contact. In fact, I insist on stalking exes on FB once in a while just for the frissons of nostalgia combined with triumph it gives me. I’m pretty disciplined about not dialing under the influence so I’m not sure I need to implement this one. Though I have deleted or blocked annoying or irrelevant people on FB.
2. The timelines you crafted for yourself in the past. There’s no right time for anything, and what’s most painful is being attached to what’s “supposed-to-be” as opposed to whatever is.
Agree. Though I was never one of those who felt life was obliged to give me anything. I am sometimes surprised when I don’t get what I want – mainly academic and job related – but I move on to alternative plans pretty quick. I am also super fortunate that life has given me a lot though. Part luck- part discipline on my part I think.
3. Speaking ill of people for leisure. Making commodity of someone’s life over drinks or at a party is not only something you shouldn’t have done in high school, but should have left back there if you did.
50-50: I do love a good bitch sometimes. However, there are certain people in my group we should stop bitching about. We’re getting there, one bit tongue at a time. I also don’t beat myself up for gossip in general and the odd catty comment in private. Gossip as long as its not mean-spirited can count as being informed and catty comments are worse in public IMO.
4. Waiting for a relationship to save you, because doing so is a dangerously unstable foundation on which you’ll end up building the rest of your life.
Can’t say: I got married too early to claim success in this one. However, I have gotten over thinking I will crumble if my marriage does. I wish I had achieved this in my 20s though.
5. The old stuff on your résumé, like the service work you did in high school or the club you belonged to for a week your freshman year of college. Nobody cares about it professionally, and probably not personally either.
Tee hee: I do have some of this still on there. Though I tend to select and prune depending on the job application. For some applications, I do think volunteer work or certain extracurriculars adds value, showing you were one of those diversified people early on. Maybe employers out there are sniggering though.
6. Remnants of former loves that you keep around because you’re still holding onto a part of them. You can say they’re sentimental things you’ll want to have in the future, but the reality is that if they only serve to remind you of something that’s missing in your life, you can do without them.
Fail: I’m a complete hoarder. I have notes Curly drew me when we were in the eight standard. I love opening my box of this stuff and going through it once in a blue moon. Admittedly it’s in my mum’s house and this does not make her happy because she would like me to stop squatting on her drawers. These reminders make me smile and don’t impact my life in a negative way so I’m keeping them (sorry mum!).
7. Feeling as though you are obligated to be the person someone else sees you as. It doesn’t matter if it’s your parents, your former self or someone you love, you can respect all of those authorities and still realize that you are not required to be anybody but who you choose to be in the present moment.
Yay, over this: I’ll admit that the person seek validation from the most is V. But I’m mostly at a place where I don’t give a fig.
8. The need to always have the last word and win every argument.
Win: Friends, please tell me this is true. I would add here also the need to take a contrarian position just to stir up an argument, which used to be MO for the longest time.
9. Abusing your body with crash diets, dangerously excessive alcohol consumption, disregard for what nourishment means, etc. It doesn’t prove that you’re cool because you’re “reckless but in control”– it just shows that you aren’t being responsible or realistic about your body or health.
Win: I will add here getting enough sleep. Also taking vitamins. Also taking a day off when you’re ill, even during periods if possible. Also getting a pap smear. Etc.
10. Financial dependency, because there’s a difference between receiving help when you genuinely need it and using someone under the guise of it.
Win: I have to thank the stars (okay and also V, hmph) that brought me to Hong Kong and made this possible because I really don’t think I could have achieved this in India.
11. Deciding who you are based on upward and downward comparisons to people, or worse – believing that you are the projection of what you assume other people think of you.
Win: I don’t think I ever did this, definitely not past my late teens. I do sometimes invent myself like a character though, but I think everyone should do that, and stray from the templates please.
12. What success means. Not being able to pursue a passion in the same way you support yourself is not a mark of failure. But not being able to incorporate those passions into your life outside of work usually is.
Yes, thank you! Sick of hearing about people feeling upset because their job isn’t their passion. It ties into 2. I think.
13. Excessive consumption, and spending as a means of validating self worth. You are not what you have nor are you what you can convince other people you are.
Almost there: I won’t say shopping doesn’t give me a thrill, but I’ve pared down considerably. Lack of time does wonders for this. Also Pinterest has helped me assuage my need for beautiful things by letting me ‘have’ them without actually buying them. I actually go over my own boards now and then and just enjoy all the beauty I’ve accumulated and prune just like it was my own closet.
14. The idea that you’re “above” any kind of work. Entitlement regarding what kind of job you should have is a real thing. In my book, doing whatever it takes to provide for yourself is a success in that it’s a display of one’s resiliency and character.
Yes, thank you! Should be read in conjunction with 12. I’m not entirely a subscriber of whatever you do do it best because first, some jobs are just bone-tiring and exploitative and most jobs are quite pointless and there’s no need to be the best at pointlessness, but do a decent job is what I say and if you’re in the mood give it your all even if it’s not your passion.
15. Being too passive about things that very much matter to you and then getting upset when they go ignored by the people to whom you should have voiced your opinion.
50-50: I tend to be passive, but then I don’t get too wired up when things don’t go my way. However, to stave off the blues that come from what-if, I have begun the practice of reflecting on what really matters and giving it my all. Case in point, wedding, which regretted being passive about. Another example, PhD which I have left no stone unturned over, as far as sanity allows.
16. Anxiety over the way your body fills out– or doesn’t– as you enter adulthood. Fat is not a thing you are, it’s a thing you have, and having too much or too little does not make you any less capable of the things that genuinely matter. The body is just a vessel.
Win: As I’ve said before, pregnancy liberated me from the tyranny of the body. I am so over agonising over my weight. I do occasionally feel irritated with my own bulges and fear that my wallet might not survive buying another set of pants, but in a non-worried I’ll get to you eventually sort of way.
17. The illusion of control. You can work hard, be devoted, care infinitely, and things could still crumble. Nothing hurts worse than spending your life desperately grasping at having a kind of control that is only viable by delusion.
50-50: This is something I struggle with. In relationships, I have a complicated set of defense mechanisms to ensure that I am in control of my own mental wellbeing, but these can be the cause of mentral stress as well. Living with a newborn is a lesson in loss of control, and one I learnt the very very hard way. On the one hand, my attitude to life elucidated in 2. means that I don’t think things will go my way even if I gave it my all. On the other hand, giving it my all could also be a form of control when taken to the extreme. Thus, I found myself eating close to nothing and breastfeeding for four months, for example.
18. The desire to settle because you’d rather not be alone. You will pay for it eventually.
Can’t say: I was fortunate enough to meet my ideal mate early enough for me never have to think about this.
19. Insulting people’s life choices out of your own resentment and bitterness. People who get married young, or work at jobs that pay well but aren’t fulfilling are easy targets, but are ultimately neither inherently sad nor wrong, though neither is doing the opposite. But the need to insult them is almost always a reflection of yourself (and p.s. I’m guilty of it).
50-50: I’ve always been able to see different perspectives and I think I’ve become better at this, but I do judge. Like the travel post. I don’t believe not judging is bad, I just think judgement needs to be well thought through and preferably not voiced to the judgee because no constructive purpose ever comes out of it. The only purpose of judging is to finetune your own standards for your own behaviour.
20. Acting on the idea that any other person is beneath you, especially for what they think, feel or believe. There’s a lot to be said about a person who can discuss an issue with someone who inherently disagrees, and a lot more to be said about a person who can’t.
Fail: Related to 19. I really do think a lot of people
are stupid don’t take the trouble to learn enough and then shoot their mouths off. And I do have knee jerk reactions to some people based on their stated political preferences. Need work on to counting to 10 and giving them a chance.
Do you think this list is valid? How do you fare?