I wish I could be more confident, and have more faith in my capabilities instead of the pessimism I often drown myself in.
I wish I could be more outgoing and charming so that I can be better liked.
I wish I could have more determination and perseverance to strive for the things that I want.
I wish I could be prettier, taller, skinnier and fitter.
I wish I could be more successful, smarter and funnier.
I wish I could….
If I were to finish this list I’d need the rest of my life to do so. But, what good does it do me to be thinking about it? Apart from ruminating on it all and feeling crap afterwards. Can I suddenly become what I fantasise about? No. Am I being too critical of myself? Definitely. Thus, I have decided that just like we are leaving the decade behind I think I should rid myself of these thoughts and focus more on the fact that:
I do have confidence in myself, and I know that I am capable of many things.
I am charming, and if I needed to be more outgoing to be liked, why do I have an amazing group of friends who I love?
If I didn’t have any determination, how have I gotten to this stage in my life with the achievements I have?
If I wasn’t successful, how do explain being one year away from graduating as a doctor with high distinctions?
It is often much easier to focus on how you could be better than how GOOD you are already. I am a habitual pessimist and perfectionist, which I think many people would describe as a destructive pair. I find it easier to dismiss something positive that has happened to me over a small, probably insignificant detail. I will always prepare myself for the worst outcome even when I know it is almost impossible. For example, I sat my last graded exams a little over a month ago, and let’s just the practical exam was a wee bit harder than expected. And when I say ‘wee’ I mean that we all believed there was a very probably chance of failing. There was a general consensus across the cohort that they threw us quite a few curve balls and most of us felt quite dejected. Despite never having failed an exam in my life I was terrified that I had failed a few components, and would not be able to able to keep my high distinction average I had maintained throughout my entire university existence. I was very disappointed, and it felt like a terrible way to end the academic year. I kept thinking about it even into the holidays, and wondering how low of a mark would I be comfortable with? There was a lot of ruminating as you can probably tell. If only I studied for that one topic no one saw coming, if only I practised that one thing that hadn’t even been on my radar as examinable.
When our results eventually came in, I found that I had just managed to scrape a high distinction. You want to know how I celebrated? I complained to my boyfriend that I wanted it to be a higher mark, because it felt like I hadn’t deserved it by achieving the bare minimum. I wished I could have done better. Even though I was worried about failing. Gah, I’m cringing at myself even as I write this. Yes, I am one of those annoying nerds who complain about their disgustingly good marks. Yes, I’m an idiot.
My point is, I have turned many potentially happy moments in my life into bittersweet memories due to the unrealistic standards I hold myself to, perpetuating this constant baseline of stress and anxiety that is wholly unnecessary. Then, I’ll realise I was overthinking later and tell myself I shouldn’t have been so pedantic. Then repeat. And repeat. Why do I put myself through so much useless stress? Striving for excellence is a great thing, but acknowledging what one has achieved (even if it isn’t perfect) is equally important. One cannot exist without the other, and I’ve been neglecting one half of this equation for too long.
Therefore coming into 2020 my New Year’s resolution is to be my own mini hype man. I want to cheer myself on, and focus on what I am rather than what I could be. I am going to try and be less pessimistic (no guarantees) and be happier with what I already have. I will still always want to do better and improve, but I will not neglect what I have already accomplished. I am going to give myself permission to appreciate myself.
If anyone out there has ever felt the same way as me, I hope you know that you are better than what you think. It is never worth being too hard on yourself, because no one should love and encourage you more than you. Happy New Year!