Don’t Waste This Life

It’s been four months and a half since I left university and officially became a working adult. Undoubtedly I have grown and learned a lot both professionally and personally. However, there is this one realisation that has resounded in me: I’m in complete control of my life. Seriously. School is over. I’m out there in the real world now. There’s literally nothing stopping me from doing anything except for me. There’s no next big transition unless I decide so. There’s not even any higher expectation of anyone on me (as long as I can take basic care of myself financially and physically, which is the minimum for me at this stage anyway.)

I acknowledge that I’m in a fortunate (or you could say privileged) position as not all working adults have as much freedom as I do. The majority of us have responsibilities, family ties or debts while I don’t. Nevertheless I believe in taking control of our life regardless of personal circumstances and that our decisions, for the most part, determine where we end up in life. And if we want something enough we will make it happen — the rest are just excuses. Hence I take it that I AM responsible for my future, for my next promotion, for my next adventure, for my bank balance and for my happiness. My only limit is me saying no to myself.

This realisation has been scary and liberating at the same time. Naturally it’s scary because I’m at the very starting point facing so much uncertainty. Because time doesn’t stop for me. Because it’s so easy to get comfortable and sit back and let life pass me by without even realising I’m doing it. Easy to get sucked in a 9 to 5 job staying in one position doing just okay. To have no energy and time left for dreams and passion and gradually be convinced that they are not realistic. It’s easy to be satisfied with a stable life and a monthly salary that could afford the goodness of life because the truth is it’s crazily hard to earn the same money from doing creative work. And it’s terrifying to have to make all the important decisions not knowing if they are the right ones.

But it’s also liberating and wonderfully exciting because I get to make all the important decisions. I get to live my life the way I think is best for me and this is all what matters. I get to take ownership of my progress and achievement. I get to set my living pace, apply for a better position at work, fly to the other half of the world, get a cab to another city at 2 am or adopt a dog. I get to choose jobs, friends, partners, holidays, places and breaks however works best for me. I get to be the real, authentic me and when I can be the real, authentic me, I can be the best me doing the best for others.  

With this knowledge in mind, recently I’ve thought a lot about “what works best for me” both in terms of lifestyle and people. I realise (with rather much shock) that I was never good at setting boundaries and doing what I felt true to. I always tried to accommodate people at my own expenses because either I didn’t know how to say no or I wanted people to like me as their liking me gave me the validation I needed. I was insecure and confused. I didn’t stop to ask myself how I felt, what I wanted, what I thought was good for me, what my limit was, and I didn’t learn that it was really, really okay to say no to people and if as a result, they got offended and walked away, it was okay too.

I know it sounds like a common sense (or like those corny inspirational quote pictures flooding IG these days) but in real life situations where you have to deal with social pressure and rules and your own unresolved deep-rooted issues, it isn’t just a thing you’re told then you can immediately do and boom — life is all rainbow again. It’s about mindset, it’s about way of being, it’s about overcoming fear and insecurities, it’s about having healthy self-esteem, it’s about self-love and self-respect, it’s about believing with all what you have that YOU matter. It’s a very fundamental change especially if you’re a person who always strives for harmony, a woman who was taught by society to put others above herself, someone who has been struggling all their life with anxiety and low self-esteem.

In the past I did even see a pattern of me being overstepped or even emotionally abused by friends or men I was intimately involved with. Or more often wasting my time and energy with people who added little to no value to my life. Consequently these relationships caused me way more pain and negativity than what it was worth. That’s why realising and believing that I matter and I can decide who and what are let inside my world means so much to me. It’s empowering. And it’s so important. I am basically what I do and who I spend time with. I must be mindful of my daily habits and selective about the company I keep as they have tremendous influence on my lifestyle and development. I know now that I can make contacts with as many people as I want but I don’t have to pursue all of those contacts into close friendships for whatever reason. I don’t have to be friends with anyone for any reason other than them enriching my life (and me doing the same for them).

As a human being I naturally want people to like me but now I have enough self-esteem to be okay if they don’t. I don’t need their validation. I know my value. I would rather be on my own than having people around me and not living life the way I think is best for me. I will say no when I have to. Though please don’t confuse this with selfishness. I still think about others. I’m still accommodating and considerate where I can. By no means do I intend to live a “me me me” life. I want to make a positive impact on others in however small or big ways. The difference is that now I do all this within a healthy boundary which I strongly believe is the key to an outcome that is respectful and fair to all parties involved.

This year going forward I really want to create more and surround myself with more inspiring, focused, interesting and smart people. I want more art and music in my life. I want a more healthy lifestyle. I want to pursue dreams and passion. I want to be inspired and inspire others everyday. I want to expand my circle so that I’m not always the “wise” one who listens and gives advice (because I’m certainly not that wise yet). The latter half of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 has been memorable and significant to my growth. I made mistakes, I was hurt, I had my breaking point, I stood up and once again I got stronger and became more self-aware. I’ve seen my changes in real action (not just empty promising words) and I believe more wonderful things are awaiting me ahead. I’ll thrive and live life the best way I can and I hope you do too. I hope you don’t waste this life.

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  • Sandra Baker

    Well, I understand people from the both sides: who are crazy scared in front of adult life, as well as people who decided to live this life in fireworks. And actually the difference is huge, to take this step is a huge courage. It’s unexpectably satisfying after, but enormously terrifying at the beggining.

  • Alfred

    I love your writings, they almost always come from a stand point that is relatable.

    • Ellen Nguyen

      Hey Alfred thanks a lot for reading and leaving this message – I need to it today 🙂