Being honest is often daunting, but also liberating. Being honest with others and being honest with ourselves releases the weight of secrets, the pressures of pretence, and the tangles of a tale. We shouldn’t have to lie about who we are or what we do. It gets draining after a while, to the point where we can’t see a way out and life isn’t pleasant anymore. It might be daunting, but it’s true when they say that the truth will set you free.
Letting go of the past
It’s hard for us to forget our mistakes, and even harder for us to forgive ourselves. But whether we accept it or not, the past is done and dusted; it is written already. But that doesn’t mean the pen is out of our hands, that our story is already written. No, our story continues as long as we do. Whatever you do, don’t let it stop because of the past. There’s always time for a plot twist.
Following your heart
Don’t listen to others who tell you who to be, how to be, what to do, if you don’t agree. Whether it’s your family, your friends, your society, nobody has more power over you than you do. It’s exhausting trying to please everyone, meet their high standards, follow what is expected, because nobody’s outlook on life is the same. Nor should it be. Do you and be the best you that you can be. The rest will fall into place.
Don’t give forgiveness because it’s the right thing to do. Rather because it’s the most liberating thing to do. When you forgive someone or yourself, you wash your body of grudges, judgement and hate. Forgive just as much for yourself as for others. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Give people a second chance. Even when that person is you. Nobody is perfect. And so that isn’t something we shouldn’t hold against each other or ourselves. Practice forgiveness and moving on.
It’s tempting to lock away our past, our sorrows, our mistakes. But we shouldn’t hang onto them like a burden. We shouldn’t be ashamed of them at all. If we try to bury them too far, they begin to pollute us from the inside and eventually overpower us. But if we slowly set them free, let them go or accept them for what they are, we can be free too. They’ll no longer define us, but guide us. They can serve more purpose than we realise.
It’s common for us to pretend we live in a perfect, happy life and we have the strength to fight all its battles alone. Sometimes we are happy. Sometimes we are strong. But it’s also OK to admit that we aren’t always happy and we aren’t always strong. Don’t harbour your sadness or anxiety inside. Don’t ignore it. To be free of it, we have to find our own way to release it. And that only begins by acknowledging it and by expressing it in one way or another. Be honest with yourself. Share your feelings with someone who you feel comfortable with and who you can trust. Express those emotions. It can only make you happier and stronger in the end.
Great expectations are hard to shake. But sometimes we have to face the fact that we cannot live up to them and we cannot expect the world to either. We will never be a perfect person. We will never erase the past. Nothing worth having will come easily. Life will never go according to plan. We shouldn’t have to live by these expectations. And that’s not to say that we shouldn’t strive to be our best selves and create our ideal world, but don’t make it burdensome and suffocating. Otherwise we end up too much like a lead ballon, stranded on the ground when we should be floating up above.
What does it mean to grow up? Growing up is often muddied with seriousness and responsibility, and we interpret it as being tied down. But whilst we should keep our inner child within, growing up and taking responsibility for yourself is empowering, fulfilling and liberating. Because the best part of growing up is defining who we’re going to be, owning it and running with it. It takes courage, and that’s why so many of us suck at it. But it will be so worth it. Growing up isn’t something to shrink away from or fight against, it’s something to embody and embrace.
Whatever you are, be a good one. Don’t live half-heartedly, mindlessly or absently. Live passionately, freely, and honestly. Be who you want to be and no other version. Don’t second guess it, but own it. We were all put on this earth for a reason – and it wasn’t to be the same.
When we let go, we free ourselves. When we let go of expectations, we free ourselves of disappointment. When we let go of what people think, we free ourselves of boundaries and limitations. When we let go of our fear of failing, we open ourselves up to memorable and life changing experiences. When we let go of unhealthy relationships, we open ourselves up to self-worth and self-love. Let go of the anchor tying you down to the seabed, and float to the surface. Don’t live in reflections and darkness, but soak up the light and breathe in that fresh gulp of air.
Expectations of us can be encouraging, assuring and empowering, but they can equally be limiting, pressurising and de-motivating, if they force us into a vision of life that we do not visualise for ourselves. We should feel free to explore and identify our passions, beliefs and talents, no matter which boxes we have been categorised into. We should venture into different channels and find what we feel is right, regardless of the path laid out for us. We should be proactive and reactive to challenges by creating solutions that seem impossible to find. We need to work hard and push ourselves further than the people who think we’re not adequate. Do not listen to those who tell you to give up. Do not listen to those who tell you that you’re not good enough. Do not listen to those who force you onto a path you don’t want for yourself. Do not listen to those who don’t understand. Defy those expectations. The only expectations that matter anyway are the ones we have for ourselves.
(Image by Mae Chevrette)