It’s taken me some time to realize that I am overall happy with my life, and even now, I still have to remind myself of that. I’m not content with everything going on in my life, but who is? Life is imperfect, and so are our expectations. With that in mind, though, I’d like to think my life is pretty damn good right now, and it has been for a while.
I’ve worked a lot on myself personally, from therapy to conversations with friends and family to doing my own self-reflection and self-care work. I’m starting to enjoy life more than I did when I was a kid, a time in our lives many of us idealize. I find myself embracing change much easier and with less resistance. This has led to an overall more fulfilling life.
I’m enjoying the little things in life. I’m more spontaneous and look forward to spontaneous moments in my life, rather than having things planned out (that never works out, anyway). I’m opening up to good friends, truly enjoying the company of people who are simply good for my soul. I’m trying new things and am not great at all of them, but I do it because I want to explore new things.
Most of all, I’m spending more time doing what I want. I do what I need for myself, and I do less of what I think I should be doing or what others think I should be doing. If I’m being honest, though, that’s been the hardest part of my journey.
When I see people living their lives in a certain way, a different way than me, in a way that’s idealized by the world—living with their partners, traveling the world, making millions of dollars—I sometimes wonder if I strayed on the wrong path. And though wrong is relative, it’s hard not to feel that way when a certain lifestyle is glamorized over another. When I see someone living on their own with their own house, I’m reminded that I still live at home and don’t truly feel like an “adult.” When I see someone engaged, I remember that I’m not in a relationship and wonder if something’s wrong with me. When I see young entrepreneurs making great successes in their lives, when I see people publishing best-selling novels, when I see people who are incredibly rich and working in a thriving industry, I start to question my life choices.
There are so many things in life we think we’re “supposed” to do. Get a “good” job in a corporate world; meet the love of your life and get married at a reasonably young age; have two children; live in a nice house you own; and retire with enough savings to last the rest of your life. A lot of these ideas are reinforced, too. If you’re unemployed or not working a high-paying job, people think something’s wrong with you. If you don’t want to date or marry someday, you’re setting yourself up for misery. If you never have kids, you’ll sorely miss out on being a parent. And if you never retire, you’ve failed the American Dream.
But that life is only ideal if it’s what you want. If you block out the noise for a second and focus on what you want, you’ll see it clearly. Do you want to live that life because you want to or because someone told you to? Are you living your life for yourself, or are you living your life for others?
I come to the realization, again and again in my life, that life is simply about living in your truth; it’s always been that way. How that looks is different for everyone, but it should be that way. We’re not all the same, and we should cater to our individual interests accordingly.
When you stray from that path, you know. You start to feel off-balance. You feel like a fake version of yourself, the version your parents or teachers or your significant other want you to be. You feel like you’re living for someone else, because you are, and you feel miserable because of it. You’re not being honest with yourself, doing what feeds your soul, and doing what motivates you in life.
You truly are the main character of your own story. From birth to death, you are with yourself forever. You’re the only person who will be around you for the rest of your life. It only makes sense to live life for yourself.
This is not to say you should disregard people’s advice for living life, especially if it’s actually well-meaning advice. We all have things to learn from one another. But we shouldn’t live life a certain way because we think, or know, that it will make certain people happy. We shouldn’t care so much about what other people think about our individual choices. That’s none of their business, anyway, and it’s completely irrelevant to our lives.
It’s time to start living life on your own terms. I’m starting to live that way, and it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself. When you live out your truth, you live as your full self, and you can never go wrong.