Don't Cringe have Compassion
I’ve had several “on this day this many years ago you said or did this” posts pop up on my timeline lately. It seems like memories both good and bad find their way onto my social media feed, which makes me feel some type of way. Some memories are truly joyful, others bittersweet, and some downright painful. I’m reminded of the relationships that are no longer, both friendships and lovers. But damn, does it above all else show me how much I’ve grown. I think about who and how I was even two years ago, and I’m not envious, but I’m not judgmental either. Recently the “on this day this many years ago you said this” posts that have been on my feed are from when I first got Facebook. Now there are lots of people my age who look back at what they posted at 14 and 15 years old, and cringe so hard. I’m not saying that I don’t cringe so hard, but I also feel so much compassion for the girl I was at that stage of life.
A few things about me in that stage are:
I wanted to be liked by everyone all the time so bad.
I was beginning to realize that I could use my voice to share things that were important to me.
I didn’t quite have the words yet to articulate what I was feeling.
If I could give that girl, who was just trying to find her voice, a hug I would. Not because she was in a dark place, but because she was carrying so much of the world's weight on her shoulders silently. She was starting to ask the big questions. Questions I still ponder today.
I think it’s really important to show ourselves compassion. I think it’s really important to show our younger self's compassion. This was something I wrote and posted 7 years ago. I cringed at first when I read it, but then I realized that I believe the same thing today. I simply didn’t have the skills to articulate it well at the time.
If I were to share the same message today, it would sound more like this:
Life is built up of a series of choices. Some of these choices are small, and some are large. Some seem small but have massive effects. You wake up to an alarm, and your first choice of the day presents itself. Hit the snooze or start the day. I’m guilty of hitting the snooze. Next choice, brush teeth or drink water, and so on and so forth. Every day. The one choice that is present during all of your choices, is your mindset on how you show up. Are you present in the current moment? Or are you so wrapped up in the future, you forget about the moment you are in? It’s really easy to always think about the future, honestly, it’s an easy way of life because it keeps us distracted. I don’t want to live like that though. I don’t want to spend my life thinking only about the future and forgetting about the present moment. I want to be where my feet are planted. I want to live my life as it is now.
I think when some people are presented with this concept, they have the misconception that by living in the moment and not in the future, it prevents us from having and achieving goals. That’s not the case. This does not mean that by living presently we only satisfy our short-term needs. You can have goals, BIG GOALS, and still live in the moment. I have dreams so big I’m sometimes afraid to dream them. You can work towards goals while still giving gratitude to where you are.
Lately I’ve pondered the idea of time. The ways it’s fleeting, the ways it seems to speed or slow, but mostly the way that we aren’t guaranteed it’s presence. Last spring one of my favorite podcasters was hit by a car walking through a crosswalk at night. The accident was fatal, and the driver has still not been identified. He was only 26 years old. As I write this, I am 23. So much of our lives growing up we are asked about the future. When we are kids it’s “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. In high school it’s “where do you want to go to college?” In college it’s “what are your plans for after graduation?” It’s like society is conditioned to only think in future terms, and not ponder or give thanksgiving for the current moment we are in. If I passed today, would I be satisfied with my quality of life? In some ways yes, and others no. I spent so many years over stretching myself and worrying about what others thought of me. It wasn’t until I considered what I thought of me and set boundaries that I feel like I really began to live my life. While I was studying abroad, I had a woman reach out to me and encouraged me to “keep experiencing life”. I think that’s the overall point I’m trying to get at. Life shouldn’t happen to us; we should be an active participant. She went on to tell me that her parents worked their whole lives, saving every penny for retirement. They wanted to be able to travel the world. Six months after her father’s retirement he got pancreatic cancer and didn’t get to enjoy any of it. This is a story that is all too common. And why? I think it’s because we perceive we have more time than we actually do. I’ve realized that when we think so far out in the future it becomes a safety blanket and requires no immediate action. Because action is scary and could result in failure. But if you fail, that means you tried. There is such courage in showing up authentically and giving it all you’ve got.
I guess my overall point is this. Live your life while you’re living. Love your life while you’re living. Have the courage to show up present and authentically to your own life. Have the courage to fail. Have the courage to live so full that you have no regrets, no what ifs. Show up as you are and experience your own life.
I have compassion for the girl who wanted people to show up to their own lives as their authentic selves. I have compassion for the girl, who wasn’t quite sure who she was yet. I have compassion for the girl, who was still finding her voice. I have compassion for my younger and present self. I encourage you to have compassion for you as you are.