As the end of January is approaching, I thought I would just sit down and reflect a little more about the almost past month and 2016. Even though I did a reflections post a while back, there are some thoughts about life that I’ve learnt last year that I would like to share with you.
I can’t really remember what exactly happened in the early part of 2016, but last year (especially the later part) was a year that I started to learn more about myself. I have gained awareness of myself and my life and it was truly a year I felt that I’ve grown.
Warning, this post is going to be a little sappy and fluffy, so if this isn’t your thing, please see my other light-hearted posts about makeup instead (there are TONS and I’m sure pictures of my makeup and eyeballs will please you). If you’re going to read on, just know that it was pretty gloomy outside when I was typing this, so do grab a cup of hot tea and let’s dive into my deep and dark thoughts on what I have learnt in the past year.
There is nothing wrong with self-help books
In July, I went to the library after a long while and I picked up the book, Linchpin by Seth Godin. This book was recommended by Mimi and Alex Ikonn, whom I have been watching on Youtube for a while now. That started my whole interesting with reading again and visiting the library provided a joy that I can’t really express. It’s peaceful, calming, and the wide selection gives me the assurance that I can learn more and improve myself as a person.
Some people do scoff at the idea of self-help/self-enrichment books, and honestly, I’m not sure why. I used to be a little shy as well, when I read my book in the train. Then, one day, I thought, why? Why should it be stigmatised to want to help yourself? In the modern world today, we are all fighting our own wars and struggling to figure out what is life about. Especially with social media, the illusion of a perfect and ideal lifestyle is something that many (including me) strive for and want to portray to other people. But sometimes, this illusion of everything’s perfect isn’t true, and there is really no point hiding behind that illusion to show off to others at all. Why should we not help ourselves? Because we are strong, independent males and females who do not need guidance and help from others? I think not. I mean, I am a strong independent woman, thank you very much, BUT there is no point in denying that I can improve and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to improve myself. In fact, I think it does take courage to realise that the self is a continuous by-product of your thoughts and inputs, and to realise that we all can do a self-improving.
To be grateful for each and every day
Late last year, I started to face some anxiety issues and it got pretty bad where I would wake up in the middle of the night, my brain whirling with thoughts and my heart pounding pretty quickly. There was a period where this happened every darn night and I knew that I had to do something about it. I wasn’t sure as to what to do, but I headed to the library and searched for books regarding the brain, anxiety, mindfulness and just life in general.
I can tell you now, that after a few months of immersing myself in those books, I feel so much better, calmer and more peaceful. I also sleep like a baby. Anxiety? What anxiety? Your girl here is calm AF. Back then, I felt that I was losing myself to work, just doing the daily grind and living my days like it was nothing special. But ultimately, every day is truly something to be grateful about. Not to sound too morbid or depressing, but it is a known fact that we will never know when our last day would be. There are some that suggest to live everyday like it is our last, but this should not mean in reckless abandon. To me, it just means to be grateful for each day and to be mindful of my actions throughout.
Work is not the only defining factor
This year, I decided to put myself out there and join a dating app. I am single and ready to mingle. Smingle. What’s intriguing is that many people will immediately ask what my job is and how was work, rather than what are my hobbies and how is life in general. Work, in today’s society, has become a defining factor. Sure, we do spend at least 1/3 of our day at it and it contributes heavily to our survival. But there should be more to it. No one is born in this world just to study to find job, work the job, and then die after. Of course, that is a major simplification but I feel that if I didn’t gain that awareness, I would probably be following that sad trajectory.
In my country, academics is something that is taken extremely seriously. And it should, as learning is key to growth and civilisation. Also, I would know, I am a teacher and I can physically witness the stress and emphasis on grades, especially now. However, I don’t know if the focus on learning is what it should be. When I was young, I was thought to study hard so that I can get a good job and earn money. If you think about it, this correlates to the idea that money equals to happiness, and the ultimately goal is to get a good paying job. Is that true? Of course we all need money to survive, the amount we need would be dependent on our lifestyle and sadly, materialism is pervading the societies currently. I mean, take a look at my makeup collection. I could probably get myself a car by now but nope, I’m just looking good and taking the bus. But ultimately, I realised that work is basically me selling my knowledge and time to help others. That is it. Who I help and what kind of skills and knowledge I can offer is different from others. That is what makes us unique. Work does not define me entirely. It is part of my life, yes. But I have a good 8 hours (I do stay in bed for 8 hours) more to think about so there is definitely more to me than being a teacher (and the fact that I play with makeup quite a bit, let’s get real).
Time is really a finite resource and we should not waste it
My mother works hard to help provide for my family but it makes me feel sad to see that the moment she comes home, she surrenders her time (and thus, life) to the black box in our dining room. Many people think that watching the television is a form of relaxation and escape, and it truly is, but it is also a distraction that sucks away your time, leaving you drained and unproductive. I am not saying that the television is a means to all evil, and I do watch quite a bit of shows here and there, but the awareness of what you are spending your time on really does count. We all have an infinite amount of time on this planet. We all have to work for a living. Then what? We use up all our remaining time by surrendering our brains and attention to a screen? I’m sure there is more to that. For me, at least. If that is what you want, please, go ahead. I mean, I definitely felt that way whenever The Walking Dead starts.
I also have a colleague who likes to complain about the lack of time and how she is always unable to get her work done. It is true, we all lack time. In fact, each of us will be on Earth for a finite period of time, and we’re each given 24 hours a day. How we spend that given amount of time should ultimately be how we define ourselves as a person. There are people who gets things done and they have the same amount of time we do. Think J-Lo and Beyonce and of course, the other very rich people. We should stop complaining about how we do not have enough time and reflect on how we do spend our time instead.
Sleep is one thing, but wasting time in bed is another
You’re probably gasping right now, thinking that I am a crazy person who hates sleep and wants to terrorise the world with my droopy eyelids and zombie like movements. No. In fact, hell no. I used to be a person who would sleep about 10 hours day (sometimes 12 *cough cough*), wake up in the afternoon, slug around till evening and waste all my time away. This is especially so on my off days. On days I have work, I tend to linger in bed, reluctant to get up and groaning inwardly on my way to work and at work. Really? Man, I sound so sad and I am so glad I moved passed that stage in my life.
As I mentioned in my last few points, I soon realised that work should not take up most of my time. I also figured out that hey, one day, I will be sleeping forever so there is no point really in trying my best to prolong my time in bed. I love sleep, don’t get me wrong. I love it so much. In fact, I invest a little too much in it. My 100% cotton sheets (880 thread count, mind you – it feels like I am on a smooth ass cloud), my lavender calming pillow spray (from ThisWorks. Boy, that was pricey but oh so worth it), my memory foam pillow and my essential oil diffuser to just name some. I take my sleep very seriously and I do want to get 8 hours in bed. But once that time is up, I get up and I know that it’s time to kick some butt.
You control your thoughts, thus your day and your life
Remember how I told you that I used to groan and moan inwardly about life and work? Oh, these people suck at planning. Oh, my kids are not listening to me. Oh, that waiter was a dick. Oh, this bulging muffin top of mine. OH BOY. Writing all these down makes me feel so embarrassed at that state of my life. My thoughts were in a negative whirlpool and I was twas wasting my days and life way just picking, moaning and complaining about every nitty gritty thing. This could be an exaggeration, I was probably happy for some time (but… my memory is that of a gold fish and scientific research has shown that negative thoughts do tend to imprint on the memory way easier. Thanks brain).
I realised that I control my thoughts. Me. Yes, me with that muffin top but still eating that muffin. When I was in university and studying sociology, I learnt that realities are subjective. This means that everyone’s idea of what is normal, what should be and what shouldn’t be is different from everyone else as everyone’s lives are completely different. There are seven billion realities out there and mine is just one of them. I realised that sometimes, what I think is right is not the case for others and I’m trying to see it from their point of view. I realised that everyone is fighting their own battles, and I shouldn’t be so judgmental. I realised that how I wake up and think about the day will dramatically affect my day. Today is going to be amazing. It will be. Sure, there will be hiccups here and there (this is life, after all) but this sure beats oh boy, here we go again. I wake up, grateful for the day and for being alive. I get up with a slight perk to my step and I embrace the time that I’ve been given. Sure, my kids still may not listen to me and sure, there will be other people in a foul mood. But I realised that it does not affect me as much anymore and I think I have reached the stage where I can say, I am happy.
That was just some tidbits of reflection for the past year. Man, the rain and the gloomy skies does take my brain along the sentimental route. If you read it all, wow, you’re pretty cool and I hope that some of it helped you in some way. We’re all still learning and we’re all struggling. Hopefully, me sharing with you what I’ve learnt so far helped to ease your struggle a little.
P.s. If you have any self-help book recommendations, please do leave me a comment below! I would also love to know what you think!