As a young person, I often get frustrated with the dualistic perceptions applied to me and my contemporaries. We’re lazy, we’re strives, we’re idealistic. I’m especially sensitive to thoughts and opinions that begin with “Nowadays…” and “These days…” because nothing good ever seems to follow.
While I can appreciate nostalgia, and I also fear the impermanence of youth, I’m pretty certain we’re all going to make out just fine. The earth will go ‘round, we’ll change and evolve, learn and grow.
However, I feel compelled to acknowledge that I have gotten sucked in “easy-outs” offered to me through low societal expectations. You know, the Wednesday nights when you could do the work that would mean a stress-free weekend… or you could go out for wings? The following are 20 dangerous thoughts I’ve had in my twenties. Some I’ve acted on, some I’ve “repeat offended” (see number 17) All of them, I’ve come to acknowledge as untrue and unhelpful while building an inspired and joyful existence.
1. “I’ve got plenty of time.”
I mean, this is true in an ideal sense. The mental trap I found myself in was delaying my Long-Game-Aspirations. Now, please don’t be offended, but I find this kind of reasoning also a bit arrogant. Where is our sense of urgency, our sense of obligation to contribute to society and tackle so many of the world’s inequities and injustices? This should matter to us, we’re in our 20s and officially world citizens… take up space and make a difference!
2. “Insurance is for old people.”
Actually, insurance is for people, in a general sense. Typically you’ll need it when you’re older… In an ideal (and unrealistic) scenario, you don’t need it at all!
However, the reason insurance is valid is because in an emergency, such provisions turn a disaster into an inconvenience. I learned this the hard way when I flossed out a filling without dental insurance.
Do your research, speak to someone you trust, and have them help you to access a reliable insurance broker. Shop around between agencies to get the best price.
3. “Sure, why not.”
Anything that brings on this kind of lackluster response ought to be a “Hellllll No.” I mean come on. You’re smart, capable; talented… you’re going to do something that has you apathetic off the hop? I have often said “yes” to things I CAN do, over things I SHOULD do and more importantly, WANT to do.
Where is the sense in this? My life, my passion, my contribution – all of it comes down to my choices on how and where to spend my time.
4. “I’m so busy.”
I could sing this like an anthem! While this is a lovely fact for most of us, it’s not, in any way, a satisfying justification – for you, your friends, or anyone really.
We all get 24 hours in a day, and you get to choose how to spend yours. Overwhelmed, overstimulated, unsatisfied, underwhelmed… MAKE A CHANGE! I’ve definitely owned that my life is a chaos of my own making; I’m 100 percent responsible for how I spend my time.
The truth is, I’ll always be busy, but I could be busy reading a book, building my business, traveling the country… it’s up to me how to fill (or not fill) my schedule.
5. “Just 15 minutes on Instagram…”
I love me some social media, but I acknowledge it can be a real time-suck. At times, all I want to do is escape my thoughts, share something I love or get inspired by someone’s creativity.
Whatever your preference (Facebook, Twitter, The Chive, Pinterest, Netflix…), don’t use this to put off something important to you. Like the gambling commercials say: Set a limit, stay within it… there are only so many waffle pictures you need to see before you go and make your own.
6. “What if I don’t pay off my credit card this month…?”
Oh gracious. I’ve fantasized about this, but I’ve never done it… I can see the allure: “It won’t take me THAT long to pay off. My case will be different.”
Well let me tell you what I end up doing. I pay off my credit card from my savings; and it sucks. The reality is that if I would have had to make the choice to pay for an item out of my savings in the first place, I wouldn’t have made the purchase, which really enlightens me into the psychology of spending on credit.
7. “Friends > Family”
In my earlier years, I would bail on familial commitments in favor of “Friend Time,” and while I love my girlfriends, I know now that there’s nothing quite like the bonds of family.
I know they will be there for me no matter what, and I sometimes am tempted to take advantage. In hindsight, there certainly are choices to be made, but make sure you make those choices for the right reason, rather than what you can get away with.
8. “I’ll save when I’m older.”
Right, because later, when insurance costs more and I actually have larger bills and financial obligations, it will be easier? I had to make savings a habit, now.
It started with $100 automatic debit to my TFSA, then $150… then eventually $900. It’s a gradual process that you adjust to, but flex your savings muscles now, while you are unburdened by familial, medical, and/or homeownership expenses.
9. “She’s a bitch.”
It makes me uncomfortable to think of how many women I have painted with the broad brush of that statement. Behaviors such as assertiveness, defensiveness, aloofness, potentially stemming from passion, aggression, consternation, frustration and probably even exhaustion have been deemed the qualities of a “bitch.”
I’ve also been called a bitch; and frankly it hurts. It feels unfair, simplistic, and overly critical. Because I hate it so much, and because I find it detrimental to strong, driven female identities, I do my best to see and connect with women in circumstances rather than writing them off as bitches.
10. “Forgiveness is overrated.”
Oh man, had I known earlier that forgiveness was for me, and not the other person… I shudder to think of the burdens I’ve held onto that caused me undo suffering.
Furthermore, never underestimate the value of a sincere “I’m sorry,” but don’t be inflexible if you don’t get one. I have to mind my side of the street first, before imposing expectations on others. I like to think: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”
11. “I just need to lose 5 more pounds.”
Oh do I? Really, what then? What will I do at 145 lbs that I can’t conceivably do at 150 lbs? Did I just tell the internet my weight? Anyway, what I’m trying to say is this is the absolute most disappointing excuse I’ve ever given myself for not doing something.
I will joyfully go to the beach, wear a crop top, dance until dawn, and change the world, as I am; healthfully and happily. I’ll continue to pursue health and fitness as a goal, and acknowledge how lucky I am to have such an able body. And no, you won’t see bikini pics of me on Instagram, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love myself.
12. “It’s just $5/$10/$20.”
Guess what has you overspending $200 each month. It’s not your cellphone, your car insurance or your rent. For me, its spontaneous trips to the grocery store when I’m hungry, dinners and drinks with friends, and weekend coffee dates.
By implementing a simple spending tracker, I’ve come to interrupt detrimental spending behaviors that take me beyond my budget in these areas. Not only that, but I love setting a cash allowance for spending at the start of the week… you’ll find $10 harder to part with.
13. “I’m never going to get married.”
Here’s the honest truth: I hate being alone. Hate it. I am surrounded by people all day, every day, and that’s how I like it. For a long time, being alone and being lonely have been synonymous for me, and that’s just not reality. So instead of being obsessed with finding a partner, I strive to be satisfied with myself, live into my aspirations, and appreciate all the different people that join me for my journey along the way.
14. “They won’t care if I’m late.”
I’m late; a lot. I used to think, people don’t really mind – it’s no big deal. Out of curiosity, I asked, and the honest answer was that it did bother people.
It wasn’t the now and then, life-happens sort of stuff, it was the habitual 10-20 minute deficit that had become my standard. The impact was that people told me I seemed rushed, frantic, disrespectful… I value my time, and I value the time of others. The best way to prove it is not through saying it, but rather to DO it. Let my actions, my presence reflect that I respect the people I am connecting with.
15. “Someone else will do it.”
Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t the world be so great if you could count on someone else who would assuredly pick up that litter, take care of that child, or engage people in politics? But since that person is fictional, I suppose it’s my role to engage in reality and create an impact. Apathy is one of the most dangerous habits of all.
16. “I NEED this/those (insert unplanned expenditure here).”
I don’t think there’s ever a time where I made money by spending money on a sale item. Any item. But damned if I don’t walk into Lululemon and feel a real burning need to possess that pair of yoga pants. I like to keep a log of all the things I would like to buy, a running tally of sorts, things big and small – if I feel I “deserve” something, or need a little retail therapy, I go off my list.
For me, browsing is deadly. By having a list of planned expenditures, I can use my savings strategically.
17. “He’ll change.”
Oh honey, if you’re afraid to change, why on earth would he be willing? People treat you how you let them, unfortunately I’ve learned this through a good deal of undervaluing myself.
While I believe that we ALL make mistakes, there are some things we call “mistakes,” that are really just poor choices. I think as women, we need to retire the idea that we are here to make our partner better, and find instead someone that is traveling the same path as us, which offers us new insights and embodies our own values and morals.
18. “I can’t make a difference.”
You can thank the little voice inside for offering up this useless nugget of information, and move right along with your day. You are infinitely capable of having an impact on the world around you and it is your choice on how best to engage.
I began Her Success in response to a deficit I saw in society. Had I just kept my ideas to myself, playing small, I could never had sparked the connection and collaboration of the other wonderful women who compose our organization, participate at our events, and read our resources!
A smile, a compliment, a helping hand can all be great ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.
19. “It’s got to be perfect.”
Nope, it sure doesn’t.
Perfectionism, I’ve come to understand, is my means of finding control in unsure or uncertain times. When I am most crazed and hectic, I want the floor to be vacuumed, the books to be arranged, and my closet to be color coded. Evaluate the difference between urgent and important items. Prioritize what is important to get a true feeling of accomplishment, knowing that you can usually revisit something to shine it up at a later time.
20. “I’m kind of a Big Deal.”
Someone once told me not to believe my own publicity. I would like to be so bold to suggest that our main ambition as human beings is to be admired. Whatever we value most, we will try to embody. Now who I am, and who I want to be may not yet be in line… in between is how I would like you to perceive me. Unfortunately, because we all see the world differently (darn it), this is impossible to control. So give it up. Stop trying to be impressive and impress yourself!
In The Outsiders, author S.E. Hinton writes: “I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.” Acknowledging these kinds of dangerous thoughts is the best way to act on them and interrupt the cycle. I believe that you are what you say you are. Your conviction and actions toward that end are what give you measurable success. That’s a blank canvas, my friends, that’s opportunity.
Create the life you want through conscious decisions and follow through. Focus on the enjoyment and satisfaction of each action. And finally, don’t be afraid to call yourself out, when thinking limiting or unhelpful thoughts.