What I wish I could be… coming into 2020

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!


35 thoughts on “What I wish I could be… coming into 2020

    1. Happy New Year! Well my boyfriend hears all of my complaints and is constantly telling me to be more optimistic. If anything, he was part of the inspiration of this post. I think he will try and keep me to my word so he’ll tell me if I’m not on track!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I just read a post somewhere about making our resolutions to accept ourselves rather than to improve ourselves and I think that is such a great concept – yours is also – I love your words of how you made so many great moments in your life bittersweet because you wanted “better”, better than is such a sad mode to live our lives in – great post – really resonates

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, acceptance is so important and yet some people take it as “settling,” or “giving up.” Improvement should be partnered with embracing oneself and appreciating what we have already achieved. I can be very harsh on myself and constantly think about being “better” rather than how great I already am. Thanks so much for reading, I hope you have an amazing day and stay positive 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “And if I asked you to name all of the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?”. I reposted this in 2018.. it was from a lovely older lady blogger in Texas, sadly she’s since passed away but I remember her with much fondness. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is such a beautiful quote, I absolutely love it! Despite it sounding selfish I think we all need to prioritise ourselves at the top of the list sometimes, and put our own happiness first. Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Helen! I’m a new reader; Marco M. Pardi shared your blog with me and some others yesterday.

    You and I share some traits in common – significantly high-achieving school-related tendencies (although I’m no longer in school). The only grade with which I’m truly satisfied is 100%.

    Throughout my schooling from early childhood I suffered from tremendous test anxiety, always convincing myself I had failed the exam. Then I would be truly surprised when I performed well.

    Please remember to be kind to yourself, and keep writing. Thank you for sharing such deeply personal thoughts. I feel this takes a great deal of courage, but it can be a helpful outlet.

    For some reason no matter what I do I no longer receive notifications for responses to my comments on various WordPress blogs I follow. Please forgive me in advance if you reply to any comments and I don’t receive an alert!

    Dana

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dana,

      Thank you so much for writing. It makes me feel really warm to know that I am not alone in this, and that my perfectionist tendencies aren’t seen as boastful or condescending to people. I know exactly how you felt and whilst I am working on trying to less pedantic about these things it’s not something I can turn off like a switch. I know it’s going to take some time and effort, but in the long run I will be happier. Thank you for being so supportive and I hope you have a lovely day.

      Like

  4. This is a great post! I like the idea of being your own mini hype man. For me though, I’ve never been good at self promotion/ praise. It’s very much part of Australian culture to not really go on about the things you’ve achieved, to be humble almost to the point of fault. However, I do feel that has made me not really appreciate what I have done and it’s hard for me to ever be proud of myself.

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    1. There should never be a better hype man than ourselves. I’ve always been the harshest on myself, so I completely empathise with you. But if we cannot appreciate ourselves, how can we expect it from others? You have achieved so much in your life, and I really hope you are proud of yourself ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is great, Helen. You can definitely be your own hype man, especially when you realize you are doing well and don’t need to set these unrealistic standards for yourself.

    And thanks for checking out my blog post on Imposter Syndrome! Seems very fitting to this piece here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! I’m working on being more positive, it’s a long journey but perhaps one day we’ll get there. I wrote a piece myself on feeling like an imposter, it was my first blog post so I completely empathise. May we both learn to embrace uncertainty and have faith in our capabilities 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I think all high achievers are somewhat ultra critical of themselves- as you pointed out, that makes you both great and self-deprecating. I’m currently reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris and I highly recommend! It’s a no frills book on quieting your inner demons. Really insightful so far.

    Liked by 1 person

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