Wednesday, March 28, 2012

10 Useful Reminders

As a volunteer I spend a lot of nights discussing life with other volunteers. Most nights conversations are light hearted and full of laughter but often the topics hit some pretty heavy subjects. Frequent questions or life dilemmas normally revolve around: "What do you want to do once this is all over?" or "How will you survive working in a different culture away from your family and friends?" 
The truth is most days I don't know the answers. I'm stuck here somewhere in the middle of where I've been and where I want to go. Somedays, life's challenges are easy and other days simple things like buying groceries from the market feel like too much. 
So here are 10 Things I try to remind myself everyday:

1. Do not lose sight of what truly matters. You got overcharged again for bananas. There is no running water in your house. When we’re having a bad day, we seem to zoom in on petty things and complain about them. It's easy to fall into the negativity trap so whenever I'm pulling my hair out over something, I ask myself if it really matters. 

2. It is okay to be alone or pull back from the world. Maybe its a product of being an only child but I enjoy periods of solitude. It gives me time to listen to myself without the influence of other people around. Check out this great article about 10 Things to Learn About Yourself While Travelling Alone

3. You are not always in control. You cannot predict when certain things will or should happen, or how everything will turn out. Sometimes you just have to stop pushing and let go. This is probably one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn.

4. What other people think is irrelevant. It is often really easy to get caught up in what everyone else expects you to be doing and lose sight of what you actually want to be doing. One of the paradoxes of
volunteering for two years is that I left behind the "traditional" idea of what I should be doing with my life and career and ended up landing in another world of expectations. Everyday I am faced with expectations of what it means to be 'female' or a 'foreigner'.  Don’t let your immediate reaction to criticism be to change whatever it is you’re being criticized for. Do whatever feels right to you, regardless of what other people have to say about it.

5. Don’t give up. If you’re fighting for something that means a lot to you, do not stop fighting whenever you happen to fall short. Remember why you are fighting for it.

6. You don’t have to know all the answers. No one ever has life all figured out. We are always learning and growing. Life itself is a mystery and it’s okay to feel clueless sometimes.

7. You are enough. All of us have had times in our lives where we have thought, “I’m not smart enough or pretty enough or strong enough or exciting enough to do _____.” Give yourself a chance instead of forming limiting beliefs.

8. Stay present. Try not to dwell on the past or worry about the future. Take everything one day at a time.

9. Your feelings will not kill you. I know that heartbreak, grief, depression, or resentment might make you feel like you’re dead and breathing, but you have the strength to get through whatever life throws at you. Hold on and see yourself through it. Allow yourself these feelings but also know when to let them go.

10. You are human. This is probably the biggest reminder of them all. You will make mistakes. You will hurt other people and other people will hurt you. You won’t always feel happy and positive. Next time you feel the urge to beat yourself up over any of these things, remind yourself that you are an imperfect human being instead.
What reminders to do you give yourself each day?

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