Another year and another summer has passed us by, it’s definitely been a life-changing couple of months especially with the new journey that I’ve got ahead of me and with everything that I’ve tried to squeeze in before life returns to its somewhat rigid and structured nature.
Just to clarify for my new and/or returning readers who may not know where I am in my academic life, I finished the second-year of my four-year degree, BSc Psychology and am now going to be working for the NHS in a mental health clinic supporting young adults and teenagers who have experienced psychosis, for my third year. It’s definitely going to be a complete turn-around from the university life that I’m used to. And since I finished around the end of May and I’ll be working at the end of September, I’ve had a huge chunk of time to myself where I got to grips with things that were bothering me, I’ve prepped for the year ahead and in turn learnt some pretty valuable lessons that have helped my self-development in a variety of ways.
Lesson #1: Knowing Thyself
As I’ve just mentioned I’ve had roughly four months of holidays which I’ve branched under “my summer” and anyone who’s had almost nothing to do for that amount of time or perhaps more will know that you begin to learn more and more about yourself once you start paying attention.
I realised that throughout my university life I was heavily reliant on people, I would always try to have company, to make plans with friends, to ensure I was always with someone, and though there’s nothing wrong with being surrounded by people from time to time, it can impede the relationship that you build with yourself. Even though I did meet with friends and I did travel to places with my family, I spent most of my time alone. And through that, I learnt that I have an interest in painting, that I’m a huge bookworm, that I can explore my local area all by myself and still enjoy my time. All in all, I’ve managed to build a better relationship with myself that would have been possible if I hadn’t been alone.
Lesson #2: Be alone, not lonely
Following on from lesson #1. another thing I learnt was how to be alone without feeling lonely. Though that sounds somewhat like a contradiction, being alone with me, myself and I, doesn’t necessarily mean I am lonely. Loneliness is about being in the absence of someone else, it means to be detached, to be away, yet being alone means that I have myself, my own company, my own comfort, that I am attached to no one else but myself.
This was one of the hardest lessons to learn, that day in and day out when I found myself in my own presence, I could still be happy, I could still enjoy myself doing the things that make me happy. I even went as far as visiting a museum and art gallery by myself which may sound daunting at first, but it gave me control over my own experiences. This then led to a library trip on my own which was just as amazing. I successfully combatted the negativity of experiencing things alone, without actually being lonely.
Lesson #3: Self-acceptance & and self-growth
For the first time in the 20 years of my life, I accepted who I was, who I am and continued on my path to self-growth and self-development. Of course, it’s much easier said than done and it’s never a journey that has an end in sight, it’s continuous and may even be labouring at times, but all in all, it’s something that I encourage.
One of the very first things I did on this journey of mine was to quieten the judgment and criticism, I say quieten and not stop because at the beginning to stop the negativity altogether is incredibly difficult to do. I started to recognise the toxic thoughts that would lead to judgement and immediately swapped them for positive thoughts. If I woke up one day and felt hugely critical of myself, I would remind myself that I’m still on my life journey that I will continue to grow into a better person.
I followed this up with accepting my ignorance, it’s completely fine that I don’t know everything but I can always learn new things, there’s plenty of resources and advice on a multitude of topics that are certain to capture my interest. So far my favourite resources have been videos from Ted-Ed and podcasts on mindfulness, mythology and philosophy.
Lesson #4: Goodbye letters & letting of toxicity
This summer I took some time out to list things that have plagued me for months, even years and decided to fully express my emotions before moving on. Many of these things that I’ve struggled with such as perfectionism, anxiety, fear of failure were all obstacles that I knew I had to face, one way or another. Usually, there are two choices, to ignore it all and let it fester to the point of almost self-destruction or to face it head on and delve into the pain and hardships with the sole intention of moving on.
Thankfully for my own well-being, I chose the latter. I compiled a series of letters where I addressed each of my issues in turn and told them why they didn’t belong in my life any more and why I was letting them go. Sometimes the letters were long and painful, in that me writing down my experiences, I was reliving all the toxicity that I had already lived through in order to let it all go. Once I had finished writing I got rid of them and strangely enough, it left an empty hole inside me that I was free to fill up with positivity and light.
Lesson #5: preparing for change and new opportunities
Just as I had mentioned at the start, I have a year in industry which is going to be like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’m going to take on new challenges, learn new lessons and in a way, I hope, I’ll grow. But before any of this takes place, I need to be prepared. And that’s exactly what I did, I’ve already gone out and bought myself a planner and thought up some new morning and evening routines, (which you’ll see soon) but I also had a change in mindset.
For those of you who have read my previous posts or are able to figure out the kind of person I am, you’ll know that I have a hard time dealing with change, whether it be a good change or a bad change, I’ll be internally freaking out nonetheless. I’ve accepted that change is inevitable, that opportunities in life should be seized if I want to progress, if I want to learn more about myself I have to be willing to let go of my fixed mindset. And so I did, but of course, it’s a life-long journey.
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