Do you ever wish you were in a different situation? If you could be the very best version of yourself right now, what would that look like? More importantly, what’s keeping you from being that person or achieving that life?
I recently celebrated my 28th birthday and I’m not where I thought I would be or doing what I imagined I’d be doing. Not all of it is bad – I’m getting married next year (woot!), have a decent job, and can pay my bills – but I’d like more of it to be better. I’ve been digging deep these last few weeks, asking myself hard questions. What am I not seeing and accepting about myself or my circumstance that would initiate change? What patterns of dysfunction am I repeating? What lies do I need to shed? What new truths do I need to adopt? What’s the narrative playing over and over inside my head? Do I need to rewrite that narrative?
Becoming the woman of my dreams is a lifelong process – it’s not magic. Oddly enough, the characteristics of that ideal woman change from time to time. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that the woman 16-year-old Boma wanted to be at 24 is not the same woman 28-year-old Boma wants to be at 28. And, I won’t, at 29, suddenly be confident, focused, present, joyful and gracious. It takes time, effort, and a steady consciousness of where you are and where you want to be in order grow as a person, in your relationships, and in your career. The goal setting is the easy part. What happens during those in-between times – between the highs – that’s what determines how you get from glory to glory, from goal to goal. I’ve come up with a list of 8 things that I think have hindered my growth in the past. They are not mind-blowing; in fact, any good friend, therapist, or pastor can call each one of us out on at least one thing on this list. I hope it helps!
1. DISTRACTIONS – We’re young, life is full of distractions: that list of Netflix original shows in our queue; the GoT premier party we’re planning; figuring out how to bake our face (this is a real thing); perfecting our wardrobe. These are legitimate ways to spend your time if you’re interested in pursuing these things. Trust me, if I knew where to start, I too would spend 30+ minutes on my makeup. However, if you’re determined to go to law school and in the middle of studying for the LSAT, now may not be the right time to spend 6 hours watching The Handmaid’s Tale.
2. COMFORT – Your comfort zone is a very real thing. A zone that restricts your movements, dreams, and thinking. But I get it; I have spent the last 2 years in a very comfortable job that gave me financial stability and great work-life balance. But it’s not my dream job. It’s not even my stepping-stone job. When you’re in a place (physical or mindset) that is comfortable, it’s so easy to become complacent and forget that you want something else, something more impactful and fulfilling. Remember what you want, be brave, put your big girl pants on, and go get it.
3. COMPARISON…is the death of joy. Truly. Your twist-out won’t come out like the one in the YouTube video. Your figure won’t match that girl’s figure on Instagram. You didn’t get that job but he did. Are they really smarter, stronger, sexier, more charming than you are? It’s a death spiral. There are people in this world that will be more (fill in the blank) than you are. You are also more (fill in the blank) than someone else. And that’s okay. It’s actually a fact of life. Accept it and move on. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Develop both. Or don’t. Whatever you decide, don’t reduce your self-worth because of what you may or may not have – it’s such a waste of energy.
4. PRIDE – While comparing yourself will leave you feeling unworthy or inferior, pride keeps you from admitting your flaws and growing from them. This is what prevents you from studying for that test because “you got this.” It’s what keeps you from admitting you need any kind of help. It’s what ruins relationships because you can’t admit that your actions could possibly hurt someone else or that you could be wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be proud of your accomplishments. You work hard, celebrate yourself! Serve as a resource for others trying to follow your footsteps. But realize that it doesn’t take anything from you to also reach out for help or admit when you’re wrong.
5. DOUBT – Believe in yourself! And if you can’t believe every second of every day, make sure you have people in your corner who you will remind you of how wonderful/smart/competent you are. I was reminded this weekend of just how important it is to be surrounded by people who believe in you and your aspirations for yourself – and who are willing to get down and dirty with you to make sure you become the woman you set out to be. Find those people. Share your dreams. Give them permission to hold you accountable.
6. YOUR PAST – There are many books out there providing instructions and inspiration for getting over your past. Helpful? Maybe – I haven’t read them. I haven’t found them all that inspiring. I don’t think there’s a magic formula for unlinking your past experiences from your future. I don’t think you should. So much of our past informs who we are, what we do, the way we interact with the world. However, I’ve recently learned that self-determination plays a huge role in which experiences and lessons you choose to carry with you. The reason you are where you are is because of that part of your life. When it’s time to make decisions about “next”, don’t go back to who you were, what you did. It will pull you back to versions of yourself that, perhaps, you’ve worked hard to change and grow out of. Reaching forward requires intentional effort.
7. THE PICTURE – It’s possible to miss opportunities because they don’t present themselves the way you’ve imagined. Set your goals, have a general idea of where you’d like to go. Be ambitious! But also remember “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Prov 16:9). Grad school will happen but it may not be the school you planned to attend when you were 15. You’ll set out to become a doctor and come back an engineer. It’s okay – life happens – it has a funny way of doing that. Don’t create such a myopic view of how your life should look. It’ll cause you to walk right past open doors and divine connections.
8. The last and most obvious – FEAR. You’re scared. That he won’t like the “real” you. That you won’t get admitted to your dream school. That you’re not good or qualified enough for that job. Large, loud dogs (oh, is that just me?) There is no end to the things we can be afraid of. How useless is this emotion? Unless you have suddenly found yourself in a life or death situation and woefully unprepared, the quickened breath, tightening in your chest, pounding heart, and urge to flee serves no purpose except to keep you from boldly walking into whichever future you chose. I’ve found that if fear is motivating your actions or words, you’ve almost always made a less than ideal choice. If you’re able to recognize the physical signs of fear in an otherwise safe environment, take a deep breath. Talk yourself out of running away and be honest with yourself about how you feel. Once you’ve admitted that you’re scared, your problem ceases to be overwhelming and you can find a solution.
I’ve found that if I have the presence of mind to identify when my thoughts or actions are plagued by something on this list, I can usually overcome it. It’s not easy. Telling yourself the truth never is. But if your heart is open to a bit of hard work and remaining present and prayerful through your growth, you’ll find victory in the valleys as well as the mountains.
Written by: Boma Ubani