When you were younger, did you ever think you’d be where you are now? That this would be the person you’d grow up to become? Look around you, look inside yourself. Is this how you imagined your life was going to be?
Chances are, you probably answered no — and that’s okay! There’s no shame in admitting that you still haven’t achieved everything you wanted for yourself yet. Because the truth is, no matter how much we may want, plan, wish, dream, and pray for certain things to happen, life is rarely ever that simple. A lot of the time, things don’t go the way we imagine it, or something unexpected knocks us off-course. As John Lennon once famously said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
But even when we know that it isn’t our fault and that there are just certain aspects of our lives we can’t control, a lot of the time, we can’t help but feel bad and get frustrated with ourselves for failing to reach our own (sometimes unrealistically) high expectations. Maybe it’s because we are constantly comparing ourselves to those around us, feeling like we’re falling behind, or because we haven’t yet come to terms with our own past failures. Whatever the reason may be, there’s no denying that we are often guilty of being too hard on ourselves just because we don’t measure up to certain standards of success (i.e. getting married, completing a degree, owning your own house, etc).
With that said, here are 8 signs to reassure you that you are doing much better than you may be giving yourself credit for:
1. You know what you want.
Sure, you may not always know how to answer the next time someone asks you, “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” But hey, you have a clear vision of what you want your life to be like, and that certainly counts for something. It’s okay not to have everything planned out all the time. As long as you know what you want, it’s as good a stepping stone as any to working towards it. Some people spend their entire lives confused about what they want to do or what kind of person they want to be with, but not you.
2. You value your relationships.
As screenwriter Richard Linklater once wrote, “When you’re young, you’re naive enough to believe that there’s going to be so many people out there you’re going to connect with. But later in life you’ll realize it only happens a few times.” So if you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who truly love, accept, respect, and care for you, you don’t let them go. You nurture those relationships and surround yourself only with those who have a positive impact on your life. And that shows a lot of wisdom and maturity.
3. You hold yourself accountable.
Knowing how to take responsibility for your actions, especially when things go wrong, is something a lot of people struggle with. Sometimes it’s easier to pin the blame on someone else or just complain about how unfair everything is. But if you know — or at least, are learning – how to hold yourself accountable for the choices you’ve made that led you to where you are now, then congratulations! You have more self-awareness and emotional maturity than most.
4. You want less material things.
Though there was a time where you once felt as if material possessions defined a person’s happiness and success, you’ve since then learned better. You’re content with the things that you have and you don’t feel jealous of other people’s possessions. You don’t feel the need to buy the latest and most expensive products because you know that there are more important, more valuable things in life. Good for you.
5. You don’t sweat the small stuff.
Though it’s understandable for us to get upset from time to time about certain things, you’ve really made strides when it comes to managing your temper and lengthening your patience. You’re not quick to raise your voice when someone makes a mistake, and you take it easy on yourself when you mess up but don’t mean to. You’ve stopped dwelling on what you should’ve said or what you could’ve done instead, and you don’t let it bother you anymore. You choose to focus on the good more than the bad, and because of it, feel happier and more at peace.
6. You’re grateful for what you have.
The truth is, pessimism comes naturally to us human beings. It’s in our nature to always be thinking that the glass is half full because stress and anxiety help us adapt to difficult situations faster (Scruton, 2010) — which just makes it all the more impressive when we go against our nature and choose positivity instead! It’s not easy being an optimist, but hey, you’re grateful for what you have. You know how lucky you are and you’re immensely thankful for everything good that comes your way, be it big or small. What a wonderful mindset to have!
7. You learn from your failures.
Instead of beating yourself up for your shortcomings, hating yourself for your flaws, or being so afraid to fail that you don’t even let yourself try, you choose the healthy thing to do and learn from your failures. You don’t let it paralyze you with fear; you don’t let it haunt you with guilt and regret; and most importantly, you don’t let it define you and your future. In the words of the late, great Maya Angelou, “You do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, you do better.” It’s as simple as that.
8. You strive for continuous improvement.
FInally, but perhaps most importantly, if you are willing to work on yourself and be a better person, then for that alone you should be proud of yourself. Striving for continuous improvement is already such an achievement in and of itself, because it shows that you are humble enough to admit that there are certain things about yourself and your life that you need to improve. So many of us feel stuck, trapped, and unable to break our cycle of self-destructive behaviors because we stop seeking personal growth. But no matter how old we are or how much we’ve accomplished, we must always continue to do our best and push ourselves to be better than we were before.
So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Has reading this list helped you realize that you are actually doing much better than you first thought you were?
Achieving fulfilment, happiness, and success in life can often be a long and winding road, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the small victories along the way. After all, life is more about the journey than the destination. So pat yourself on the back and cut yourself some slack — you’re doing so well! Slow down every once in a while and appreciate how far you’ve come. And remember, a little encouragement goes a long way, especially if it’s coming from yourself.
- Scruton, R. (2010). The uses of pessimism: And the danger of false hope. Oxford University Press.