Saturday, June 1, 2019

Blogger: Advice For A Younger Me

Today marks ten years since I turned legal... since I can drive, vote, go to prison for messing up my taxes and well, drink. Which is something I am definitely getting addicted to, when I mess up my taxes and go to prison. Nonetheless, in these ten years I feel like I have learned more about life than I would have ever thought possible... and if I could give advice to myself when I was 18, these are the things that I would say. With that, I hope somebody can use these now to help them through anything that comes their way.

If you lose someone, or something, for whatever reason, you need to remind yourself that you alone understand how important it was to you. Losing something also means losing a part of yourself; despite the popular saying of "People don’t change", they do very much, especially if they are hit by a trauma. You can grief a friendship, a death, the end of something good, truly, it does not matter what it is, you are allowed the sadness that it causes you. Keep in mind, that even if something was a year ago, if you have feelings about it now, it is present to you. On that note, it also means that grief can last two or max three weeks as well. The pain of losing someone is not determined by any rule. Being able to say goodbye properly is a way to shorten the grieving period, but if you cannot do that you will have to find another way to get closure – do not be ashamed to look for ways to do that. You might be fine for weeks, and then a puppy video will make you cry for days, remember: that is normal. Feelings don’t abide to any rules.

You sometimes read inspirational quotes on how you do not have to apologize if you no longer want toxic people in your life. The dilemma comes when you are related to that person, and not only you put pressure on yourself because you should care for family, but so will the rest of your family. Let it be a brother, a cousin, even your parents. We are all different people and how we react to each other can have consequences. I am not saying that you should forever block family from your life; I am saying that you are not forced by blood to take on more than you are able to. It might seem easier to get rid of a friend if they are toxic, but in reality, moving on from any relationship is extremely hard. It is ultimately true that you do not choose your family, and that is why you should not give yourself a hard time if you need to distance yourself from them, no matter what your aunts might think of you over a dinner at Christmas.
Beware, however, that you might be the toxic one for someone else. This does not mean that you are the antagonist in your own version of course, but be careful, at the same time you will always be the villain in someone’s story. There is no control over this, but that shouldn't scare you. If you are not meant to be in someone’s life, they are not meant to be in yours, and that is OK. They will prioritize themselves, and so should you.

The career options in today’s world are basically infinite. Not only the career options but the schools, and the number of countries where you can continue your studies is overwhelming: there is pressure. I do believe that only the 1% is able to find their dream major and dream university and will get their dream job at first try. That having been said, all your life you’ll be told that you are aging, that you are getting older and you will not be young anymore, but do not let that influence you. People are as old as they feel. Think of the actors like Alan Rickman, who was 32 when he had his first acting role. So are we saying that he wasted the first thirty years of his life? Of course not, if anything, it prepared him for the next chapter of his life. I think that everybody will find themselves if they are allowed to make mistakes. That is the key here: mistakes are not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to jobs and schooling, because we learn a lot about ourselves. Stop putting pressure on you to find the right answers immediately. Go and get experiences and stop being scared of not getting it right the first time, because that is how you will find what is really meant for you. Even if we are not getting younger, I am sure that the prospect of waking up at 60 and feeling like you wasted your life is far worse than getting a couple of temp jobs over summers to see what you are good at and what you enjoy.

As I look around I see so many relationships where people are miserable, and why? Because they are scared to be alone. They are scared that they have found the only person who "tolerates" them. And is that what you want? Somebody, who tolerates you? As surprising as that may sound, nobody will ever love you enough for you to start loving yourself. Some are lucky, they heal together with others, but forcing yourself into a relationship will not change your luck. I spent years on my own, and it got me ready to appreciate my time alone. All those essays you read on people preferring to be single? Read them. Not everyone is meant to have the fairy tale ending, but it is a happy ending still if you learn to love yourself. When you are not happy in a relationship, ask yourself, is it better to hang around until you finally find someone new, and get into a whole new relationship, where you make the same mistakes, and you stay again, unhappy and over and over and over… or, spend time to get to know yourself? Learn more about your friends? Take yourself out for a coffee and a good book? There is nothing wrong with that. It is incredibly easy to make the same mistakes because we fear the unknown. So make sure that solitude is not the unknown. Being alone can be scary, but that is why people should be taught that there is nothing to fear.

You might be sharing facebook posts about how what you learned in chemistry is totally unnecessary, and I will admit that I have done that too. But nobody is stopping you from going up to your dad and asking him "Hey, how do I do my tax returns?". Aren’t you tired of teachers blaming parents and parents blaming teachers? Because I am. The thing in between is you, and you can be mad that the education system sucks, and you can be mad that we should learn more useful things in school, and everybody will agree with you. But use that anger and fuel it into something important. Make sure you teach your children how to change a tire, use a drill, make scrambled eggs, get a bank account and do their taxes. Or go beyond that: make it your issue to improve education. Even if you don’t go that far, know that complaining about something is a long way from finding a solution.

Weddings are for one a good example. I was just listening to the podcast Dear Hank and John, from a couple years back, where John talked about how he and his wife, in a room of engaged people, were the only ones who talked about the future: the house, the kids, their dreams, all of it. They were answering the question of somebody planning to propose to their girlfriend, and they emphasized how that should not be a surprise scenario (it is the moment of the proposal, but make sure it is something you both want). I, on the other hand, only heard stories about girls being certain that their boyfriends were about to break up with them and then they showed up with the ring. Now, I have no idea what kind of relationships those were, but they did not sound like the ones where people sat down and talked about the future, if they were thinking they were about to be dumped... so what do you do in that situation? Why do you say yes? You have a 10 second window before the other person has a heart-attack, and you know what, you might change your mind after you accepted or refused their offer. Do not be afraid to do so, communicate! And that goes for everything: from deciding to go on the roller coaster you know scares the hell out of you, to trying seafood for the first time - you CAN change your mind again. And on that note: sex. Yes, it is rape if the other one doesn't stop AFTER you changed your mind and have spoken out on it. See? Communication. If you don't want to do something, that is OK, do not worry about hurting someone, you will do so by not trusting them enough to voice your concerns. So if you finally see them in front of you, and it is romantic, and you feel like saying yes, do, however, if that is where life leads, do not marry that person.

If you keep giving advice to your friends, don’t try and pretend to be someone you are not. If you tell them to make changes, don’t be afraid of change yourself. If you tell them to quit school, or quit work, or leave a city, or a whole country, then don’t be scared to do it yourself. And if you are scared, be ready to defend that. You might be giving advice to someone who is your opposite, in that case I am not forcing you to do the same thing, but be sure to know your limitations and to not come off as a hypocrite. Every situation calls for its own solution, it is great thing to help someone in need, but do not try to be more than you are. The best advice sometimes is admitting that you don’t have the answers they are looking for either, but you are there to listen. You'll see that people come to you for advice exactly for that: the ability to admit when something is bigger than you.

The love you feel for a friend is the same you feel for a lover on many occasions. I was just watching Felicity (1998), where the main character lost one of her friends, for various reasons, and she deemed her sadness over it stupid, because it is not like somebody died... but then her guidance counselor says "That is exactly what it is like". Once somebody is gone from your life there is a sort of emptiness that comes with it. And that goes also back to my point about grief not having an expiration date. But what is important, is that no matter how much you love someone, how much you click perfectly in certain things, sometimes it is just not what is supposed to happen. And you fight. You hurt each other, a lot. I have had more friendships like that than I can count... and in the end it all came down the fact that I could not love them for who they were. I, as much as I fight it, have expectations from a friendship, based on the years I spend with that given person and well, I can be impossible. And I had to learn that I cannot expect somebody to change, nor should they just to be friends with me. About a year and a half ago a friend of mine moved away from the city and well, we had problems before, but they did not really matter, until the distance made it clear that this was all one-sided. Actually, I think the other just had problems showcasing her emotions, but to me it felt like she never cared and that was the last nail in the coffin. Me wishing she be more open about her feelings towards me was something that I could ask for but should have never expected of her. I miss her, she was a special someone, but we hurt each other more as a result of it all.
You know, leaving someone while you still love them might be the hardest thing you will ever do, but sometimes it is better than letting it turn into hatred and disgust, which will leave a scar that might never heal. And the same goes for lovers, you know, when you thought that person was the one, leaving them will be a bitch, but sometimes, when you recognize the signs, trust your gut, maybe letting go is the best answer. 

"Did you ever look back at some moment in your past and have it suddenly grow so vivid that all the intervening years seemed brief, dreamlike, impersonal—the motions of a May afternoon surrendered to routine?"
- Roger Zelazny, Doorways in the Sand

These might not seem like very positive messages, but actually these are the things that could have avoided me a lot of pain. And I hope they will help someone else too one day!

Until then, happy birthday to me, and well, to you if you happen to read this on a special day!

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