Before I left my office job last year, I didn’t really know who I was. Most days, I lived on autopilot, waiting for the weekends, constantly feeling tired, and yearning for some more time off.
At the time, I thought life just is that way, and I’ve got to accept it.
It is what it is, I used to think. You have to commute every day to someplace you don’t like, work with people you don’t connect with, follow the rules, save as much money as you can, be as perfect as you can, and continuously compete with others.
I’ve been wasting my valuable time living this way just so one day I can have saved enough to be able to upgrade my social status. Purchase a better car, get a mortgage, go on holiday once a year, brag about my raise, promotion, or a new exciting job.
Living this meaningless life cursed with this narrow-minded perspective, I often found myself crying for no reason, feeling uninspired, lacking joy and motivation, and slowly losing my appetite for life.
Although I’ve been feeling anxious, depressed, and unhappy most of the time, I couldn’t admit and face the fact that something wasn’t okay.
Don’t get me wrong. There were days I felt fine, optimistic even. I had plans and goals, and dreams. But they never felt genuinely exciting and empowering. They never felt joyful and authentic.
Yet, I continued walking this path, foolishly hoping that getting these things will finally make me feel happy, fulfilled, and whole.
I religiously followed these instructions for life, desperately trying to do it in the right order just so I could get life right. But according to who? According to my parents, teachers, co-workers, colleagues, some of my friends, and many others I’ve met throughout life. I’ve been conditioned to believe this is the only way.
So many people live their life that way, so it must be the only way—I thought.
And I followed them. I followed them until last year when I was shown an entirely different perspective about life.
In the first weeks after the pandemic announcement, I was placed on furlough due to lack of work. Shortly after, my priorities began to change.
I started to question everything I’ve ever strived for and doubt all the conditions, limitations, and beliefs I was once told to adopt as universal truths.
My lack of awareness and reasoning kept me in the dark for so long.
I will feel content when I get that promotion.
I will feel fulfilled when I get a raise or find a better-paid job.
I will be respected and recognized for climbing a career ladder.
I will be liked and admired for my style, for driving a better car and having fancy holidays.
I honestly thought I’d be happier if I continued walking this self-destructing and soul-sucking path.
I’ve never questioned this reasoning of gaining societal recognition before because my mind was distracted and full of scattered thoughts, as well as fears and limitations imposed on me by other people.
I was unconscious.
I was unaware.
I was so busy playing out multiple roles, being a certain way, and suppressing my true feelings. Just because I’ve been told so many times that this is the only way to survive.
My fear of not being appreciated and accepted was so enormous that I agreed to conform to social norms and conditioning. As a result, I entirely lost my voice and authenticity.
The fear of failure and being laughed at or ridiculed by others was so big that I’ve been pretending to be someone I’m not.
Some days I couldn’t even recognize myself. I was acting instead of living. I used to say things I didn’t even mean or think, just because I thought I had to. Because it was expected from me, but mainly because I was afraid to be open and honest. And also because I didn’t want to say anything that would make people upset or think of me badly.
Because I’ve been practicing this behavior for so long, I forgot who I really was.
I forgot what I liked.
I forgot what it feels like to be unconditionally happy.
I forgot what it means to be free.
Free from conditions and expectations. Free from worries and guilt. Free from having to continually prove myself. Free from all the limitations that society imposed on me.
I was too busy to notice that I was miserable, and my life was getting worse every day.
There were questions I’ve never asked myself until I found myself with plenty of time on my hands to spend how I choose.
Do I really need all of these things I think I need?
What if I could change that and start thriving instead of existing and merely surviving?
What can I do to start living how I truly want?
What do I actually want?
After a few weeks of feeling uneasy and uncertain, I began to enjoy my free time. I recognized I was suddenly laughing, joking, and feeling excited again. Just like that, for no reason. Feeling happy and content became my natural state.
I temporarily had no job to go to.
I no longer had to sit in front of a work computer screen for 8-9 hours doing shit I hated.
I no longer had to play by any stupid rules.
I no longer had to pretend.
It was just me and my partner, long days full of sunshine, packed with nature walks, enriched with meditation, contemplation, and self-exploration.
This wonderful time allowed me to distance myself from all situations, people, pointless jobs, problems, pressures, and stressful situations I’ve been experiencing for so long.
As I continued exploring local parks and nearby beauty spots, I slowly started peeling off all the layers and recognizing all masks I’ve been wearing just so I could be accepted, liked, or even appreciated and admired.
I always wanted to fit in so badly that I lost connection with myself.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked and appreciated. However, when we lose ourselves in this process, completely ignoring our needs, which strikes our sense of self-worth and undermines our authenticity.
Because who are other people to judge us? Why are we so concerned about what other people think of us and whether they accept us?
The truth is you’ll never have control over other people’s opinions about you. Face it. And with that realization, you may as well just completely disregard it and start following your heart.
Do what you always wanted to do.
Move. Dance. Sing. Run. Draw. Paint. Write. Create. Inspire. Motivate. Teach.
Get clear on your true desires.
Break the rules. Be spontaneous. Be courageous. Be fearless and unapologetic.
Show your emotions. Don’t hide them.
Be honest to the bone.
Say out loud what you always wanted to say.
Stop pleasing others.
Make yourself a priority.
Don’t be afraid to show your true self.
Be kind, be loving, be compassionate.
Be true to yourself.
Let yourself go.
Live how you want to live.
Live your life to the fullest.
Take time to find yourself.
And fuck what others think about you. You are free to choose what you want to make of your life. It’s literally your birthright.
Why would you want to live your life controlled by others?
Why would you want to live your life continuously pleasing others?
Why would you want to live your life not knowing who you truly are?
Why would you want to deprive yourself of authenticity only so you could fit in, be liked, and feel secure?
These are the questions you should ask yourself today.
You’ve got a choice of how you want to live your life. What choice are you going to make for yourself today?
Are you going to carry on an uninspiring, unauthentic, self and soul-destructing path, or are you going to make yourself and your personal happiness a priority?
Remember, you are the most important person in your life, and it’s your birthright to live your life as you please.
No one can live this life for you. Only you can change your life by choosing to break patterns you’ve been repeating for so long. It’s your responsibility. You owe it to yourself.