How to be hard on yourself

Look, no one is perfect (not even you, Michelle with the flawless complexion and expensive heels that you know how to walk in and everything). And that’s really okay. What’s not okay is sitting back, accepting things as they are, and just being “imperfect” with no intention of evolving. I get the struggle: I went through periods of numbness and not caring and just existing, almost outside of my body. Sometimes you don’t want to, don’t care, don’t have the motivation. That’s all right, but give yourself a chance. Be hard on yourself.

Three reasons why you should try

  1. As I’ve talked about before, you need to be sympathetic with yourself… but after a certain number of weeks/months of self-pity and sitting around waiting for change, you gotta be the one taking action.
  2. Do you want to end up being thirty and wondering where your twenties went? I read a book about being in your twenties (The defining Decade) and one of the things that stuck with me is that you have to know where you want to be in your thirties in order to take action in your twenties. So think ahead! And don’t limit it to your twenties, take that lesson into all of your decades: To make it to your next step/goal, you have to be actively preparing for it. There will be good days and bad, but just keep going.
  3. Also from The Defining Decade is the idea that the thing that messes us up the most in life is the picture of how things are “supposed” to be. Excuse my french but f*ck that mentality. Do what you need to do to get where you want to be, not where you think you should be. Sooo what I’m saying is, you should be hard on yourself because you need to get real about what your thing is.

Three suggestions for how to be hard on yourself

  1. Get real about your thing. Hi, you read the third reason above, right? Yeah, your first order of business here is to figure out what you want your business to be. Ignore what Jenny from the block is doing and peek at yourself. Have you been wasting the past few years going through the motions but not getting any closer to your goal?
    • If you’ve been wasting time, stop! Easier said than done, so take small steps (see second suggestion).
    • If you don’t have a goal, go find it
  2. Take baby steps, or in-utero steps. If you want to quit your day job and open a bakery, stop talking about it and start researching. Dedicate half an hour a day (or every other day, if you want to start smaller) to researching what you need to do. Then start building a business plan and mission. Take your research and lay out how to make it happen.
  3. Balance it all. The good and bad days, the lazy days and productive ones. Let yourself have both. I’m not so good with exercising, but think of it like how workout guru’s talk: Everything in moderation. You’re not going to stop pitying yourself or wasting time in one day. That’s fiiine. If you like watching TV after work and don’t feel like working on your dream, don’t hate yourself for it. Work on your dream for an hour and then watch TV, or alternate days between what you want right now and what you want for your future.

It’s hard to find the right guidance out here on the World Wide Web, but take this article into consideration and find a way to get closer to your dreams, whether that takes weeks or years. Do it your way, but do it.

 

 

man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography

Photo by lalesh aldarwish on Pexels.com

Writing day at T-rex cafe

When it’s time to be hard on yourself

If you’ve read my previous article on not knowing, you’ll be aware that I’m trying to accept the unknown instead of letting it be a burden or hardship. That said, there’s a tricky balance to be struck in being kind to yourself and babying yourself.

On my hunt to figure out the key to life, I’ve definitely fallen into self-help and grand ideas of being kind to myself to counteract all the horrible things I’d say about me, to me. Unfortunately, that turned into babying and allowing myself to sit in my feelings—this lead to not growing. It led to ideas without action. Thoughts without real hope behind them. Numbness and discontent and lethargy.

Whatever it takes, take a hard look at if what you’re allowing yourself to do now is hurting or harming you in the long run. You don’t have to be able to love yourself all the time (though it’s great to work towards). There will be better and worse days, but take a minute to read this chart and think about where you’re at:

When to be hard on yourself When to go easy
You’re using pain from months ago to justify your actions. If you’re having a hard time coping with a hardship, don’t be ashamed. Reach out to a friend or try an app like Talkspace. You’ve just had your heart broken—lost a loved one, friend, boyfriend. Take time to grieve.
To make yourself feel better, you drink and eat whatever you want all the time—you can be kind to yourself without having chocolate cake for breakfast every morning. It’s been a really rough day—we all have them, let yourself be in it.
You’re being so nice to yourself and never doing anything you don’t feel like doing, and it’s hurting your friendships/career. You don’t want a salad or to go to the stupid gym—don’t. If you’d be better served taking some time off, don’t waste time hating yourself for not going. Instead, do what you really want to do. Read a book or do a face mask and accept that not being perfect in your habits doesn’t make you a bad person
After “taking care of yourself” by whatever your own means are, you still aren’t happy. If you’re feeling sad—don’t take it out on yourself. It doesn’t make you ungrateful or lazy or messed up. (Note: this is where I’ve gotten into trouble. While you’re feeling down, doing anything seems impossible. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on how, after a year, I’m finally trying to change my habits and be tougher on myself.)

So many people are going to throw their ideas at you—where they think you should be emotionally and what they think you should be doing. This post is intended to give guidance from my personal experience and help bring people out of similar places I’ve been.

You’re allowed to not know

For most of college I had no idea how to find a life that I’d love. Even now that I’m taking steps toward a future–getting an apartment and working full-time–I still have no idea. And I’m really tired of seeing quick plans to find happiness or success or whatever you want to call it. I think it’s time to accept that we don’t have to know.

I’ll be blunt: I got lucky by falling into a job I didn’t even know about last year. These things happen, they work out. Sometimes happiness finds you… But saying I had no idea what I wanted from life and accidentally finding hope is annoying. So hang with me.

Here are some–of many–things you don’t have to know:

  • What you want to do with your life
  • What to eat for lunch
  • How to cook lunch
  • How to be as good as someone else–DROP THAT THINKING. DO IT RIGHT NOW. (I’ll do it if you will)
  • What you want to write about
  • Where your writing is going
  • How to get noticed and published and achieve the life of your dreams
  • What your dreams are
  • Anything

I’ve wasted so much time obsessing over who I am and what my actions mean and reading into everything, calling it logic or emotion or whatever seems the least bull-shitty at the time. In my life right now, though, it’s most important just to be. To be appreciative of the chances I’ve had, of my amazing job, of the people in my life that accept my imperfect self.

You may even find there’s a power saying “I don’t know.”

Business before pleasure (a graduation)

It was hard to ignore the beauty and nostalgia walking around campus the last days of my last semester. The sun made an appearance; the snow melted after our April blizzard; The lawns were full of frisbee and football and friends. There was a sale at our bookstore but I didn’t need any of that gear anymore. Then I realized: The next time I would walk through this campus lawn, I would be a visitor. College would just be a memory… It already felt like one.

But then I went to graduation and was painfully bored and gooooodbye nostalgia. Oh and bye bye to you too, Carlson School of Management. 

It was kind of like a wedding. Yay! Ceremony. Here are all my old professors and freshman-year friends drinking at our bar. And oh! Typical Lindsey moment: Lose tassel the moment I leave my house… retrace steps and contemplate where to buy a tassel on graduation day… find tassel only to drop it in the portapotty urinal. Laugh because it’s funny and it’s college and college is an excuse for all mistakes.

But then the pee tassel switched to the left side, the ficticious curtain closed and I got sent back to my life and what’s that look like now?

I always have a plan, but I don’t know where I’m going to live, who I’ll see again, or who/if I’ll date.

All I do know is that I spent 4 years of my life at this college. It’s easy to ignore the time ticking, but I’m sitting back outside on the campus lawn today. For once, I’m not listening to music. Instead, I’m taking it all in. And I like it.

Thanks, University of Minnesota.

Special shout-outs: 

star wars tie

My dad for being awesome and also having this awesome Star Wars tie

graduation family picture

My super supportive family

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My first college friend #June2014

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My tassel for never being too far gone

The abroad article you haven’t read

Life provides so many incredible opportunities and we should take them… but not all of them. This post has been on my heart for a while, and I think it’s finally time to put it out into the big world of the Internet: studying abroad was the hardest and worst time of my life.

Let’s just fast-forward past the part where you think I sound ungrateful and horrible by even daring to type those words. On the odd chance that I can reach someone who needs to hear this, I’m going to trek on. Here’s what happened:

I went abroad due to social pressures from school and peers

I’m not placing blame, I went completely on my own accord, but everyone thinks that to go abroad is some crazy rite of passage or a do-or-die life experience that a person can’t pass up.

I knew myself but ignored it. Listen: YOU are your own best research.

Somewhere in my heart, I knew studying abroad for a semester wasn’t my cup of tea—although I did have a few wonderful cups of tea in London and Scotland—but I went anyway.

Still, I did a lot of research beforehand.

During that research phase, part of me hoped to stumble upon a blog of someone with a negative experience, or just an unbiased one, but Google is flooded with people singing high praises to Europe for its life-changing properties.

I guess I have “changed”, but not the way you think

Not because I found the best version of myself in Italy or ate so much pasta that my mind was drugged up on carbs. It’s because I underwent incredible challenges and came out on the other side. This is something that I am grateful for now. And it is tempting to say that it was worth it, but to this day I look back and wish that I had trusted myself more.

This is for anyone. This is for everyone. This is for me.

I’m writing this to myself. I’m writing this to anyone who is on the fence about going abroad and needs a different opinion. I’m writing this to those who have gone abroad and felt lonelier than they have ever been in their lives.

You don’t have to explain yourself

There were multiple reasons that my stay in Italy wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, despite how much I tried to love it. I won’t go into them because I don’t want to depress anyone and I don’t quite have the proper words to go further than what I’ve shared here… I just want you to know that it’s not your fault if you don’t want to go, or if you do go and don’t love it. It’s not your fault if your mental health gets the best of you.

It’s not your fault. It’s okay.
No matter what you choose, remember this: your experience is your own, and in that way it is beautiful.

Why you should go to the career fair anyway (when you’d rather die than talk to strangers with job titles and probably no student debt)

I’m honest with people about my path in life. I worked really hard to get into the college I’m currently at, but when I got here I realized it didn’t feel like me. I don’t want to run off on another tangent here… I just want to hone in on why it’s so important to keep trying, even in unlikely places. Especially in unlikely places.

College sucks.

You lose millions of dollars (exaggeration), drink too much (sometimes), and cry for you mom on Mondays (or Monday-Wednesday… or, like, every day).

College also doesn’t suck.

Beyond the pressure of doing well, there’s new friends and adventures and all that cliche stuff that’s only cliche because it’s true.

On top of all of this, there is also a career waiting for you on the other side. Hopefully. That’s what people go to college for, right? It’s a pretty intimidating idea. What if four years pass and there’s nothing waiting on the other side? What if you reach the finish line and don’t feel any different than when you started?

Regardless, let’s talk career fair. What’s not to love about a bunch of professional powerhouses in one massive location? What’s not to love about trying to iron your shirt with a hair straightener and then running out of time to actually straighten your own hair? What’s not to love about drowning in a sea of suits, where you’re afraid no one will see you?

Not my ideal day. Quite a stretch, actually. But let me tell ya, Sophomore year I went to the career fair for practice, and it changed my life.

A simple connection I made there, talking to a random lady, landed me an internship a year later, which took me onto some incredible learning and career opportunities. I hate to think what would be different if I hadn’t gone to the career fair. If I hadn’t accepted a few hours of networking and feeling out of place.

Opportunity is knocking, undergrads. Pick up your portfolio and answer.

A letter to my parents

Some things I remember about growing up:

  • Never questioning whether I’m good enough
  • Letting me have the biggest bowl of pudding, or taking the butt of bread because you knew I hated it
  • Reading my favorite books before bed
  • “Go Fish” and Butterfly Kisses
  • Rotating my tires on college breaks
  • Spoiling me with back rubs and encouragement to get through the years
  • It’s late and my brain is in overdrive and I can’t even think of all the small and large things you two have done for me over the years but this is about .000876% of what I want to say

Mom: you worked nights when I was a kid so that you could spend your days with us. As a kid, I took this for granted. I didn’t realize the strain that must’ve had, or how tired you must’ve been. All I knew was that you made me lunch and played in the snow with me. All I knew was that you’d make funfetti cake and take the first piece out because you knew it’d get messed up and wanted to save the best ones for me and my brother. You always wanted the best for us. You still do.

Dad: you’re the hardest worker and I always know you love me by your actions. (People always say that actions speak louder than words.) In this case, long ice cream drives speak volumes. And speaking of volumes, you got me hooked on reading at a young age. This is the most precious gift you can give: time, attention, and the passion to read. I’ll always remember that you supported my goals as much as, if not more then, me. From free-throw contests to piano to tennis. As two people with the same personality, I feel understood and respected and important to you.

Thank you.

P.S. See you either this weekend or for GRADUATION.

Best,

Your daughter