Hello! Let me introduce myself: my name is Maine, but please feel free to call me Mainecita. I would like to begin this article by saying I am no licensed therapist, I’m a normal girl that’s been through a pandemic and lived to tell the tale. Let’s just say this time last year I did not have the ~smoothest~ start of the semester. 2021 was the best (and most difficult) year I have had yet. With this in mind, 2022 me would like to take this opportunity to share with you how I managed not only to survive such a challenging year, but end up flipping it around – and maybe throw a lifesaver or two so your journey can be made a little easier as well.
Take some time to know yourself
On what I would qualify as the pivotal moment of 2021, I found myself crawling to my desk, staring at the blank journal in front of me, not knowing how I had gotten to that point. I asked myself “who are you really? What do you like? What do you enjoy?”. And as simple as these questions sound, I was not able to answer them. I invite you to be curious, ask yourself questions; there is so much you don’t yet know about yourself that lies within your subconscious.
Be brave enough to let yourself in. There are so many parts of your life that have been decided for you, dictated by your culture and surroundings. I’m not saying these are wrong, I’m just asking you to reinstate your beliefs, maybe you have changed! Maybe you’ll realize that the person who believed such things is no longer you. Some questions to ask yourself are these:
- What are my principles? Why are those my principles?
- Do I like all aspects of my life?
- Will I follow all the traditions I grew up with? If yes, why? If no, why not?
- Do I like what I’m studying? → (a personal weak point)
- Who do I want to be? What do I have to do to get there?
Knowing yourself is key to understanding life around you, as you see things as you are. You see life through what you have been through, the experiences that have helped form you. Make sure your narrative is one you truly stand by.
Read self-help books.
This is not a joke. It may sound like one, but I promise it is not. When I thought I “knew” who I was, I was given a book; I stared at the title and laughed a little, “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck” By Mark Manson.
The author’s philosophy states that in order to live a peaceful, fulfilling life, you have to carefully pick the things you care about – because if you care too much about EVERYTHING, your “caring” loses its value, leading to the chances of you being happy to incrementally go downhill.
Some of the other best books I’ve read during the last couple of years are these:
Identify your weak points and strengthen them
This particular point may be a little more weighted towards the hard side. We all have weaknesses, they are the very things that make us human. However, how much better would you feel if you outgrew your younger self? If you were able to become a better “you”?
If we are aware in some situations we don’t respond well to criticism, maybe it is time to practice that skill. If we know that being hungry gets us in a bad mood, maybe we should start considering carrying a snack around. My personal kryptonite was expecting the other person to magically know what I was upset about, and fix it.
These actions seem small, however, at the end of the day, once I learnt how much easier it was to say “hey, I could really use your help” and get my problems sorted, I decided I never wanted to go back to the old me. Again, we are all human; we never fully know what battles someone might be going through. Treat people with kindness, as you would yourself, and with that said, please make sure you put yourself at the top of the list.
Change the narrative
Probably the most important one so far. You are in control of how you choose to see situations. Your mind has the power to dictate the tone of your life. Talk nicely to yourself, give yourself compliments, be kind to your body. Don’t lock yourself in your room and listen to sad songs while you’re already sad (surprise: they will only make you feel worse!).
Choose how you want to see situations and trust that everything will be okay, truth is if you set your mind to it, it will definitely be.
One last note: How you talk to yourself matters, your opinion about yourself matters.
As individuals and members of society, we are all in constant change. In order to be at peace with everything that surrounds us, we must first be at peace within ourselves. Knowing, growing, evolving and changing are the key principles that turned 2021 into a magnificent year for me. Feel your feelings! Let things go! Make sure you live your life in accordance with your beliefs, think about them often and overall relax and enjoy your college years. In the end, this is what they are here for. I wish nothing but the best for all you readers out there. May 2022 be the year you become the best versions of you, we are all rooting for you!