In the digital age, we are controlled by the next best thing—from what we buy and where we travel to who we date and befriend. Even in the conscious community, many are on a constant social climb to find the ultimate “chill vibe” with the “coolest of cool people” in the “sickest of sick places.” Why? Because we’re still human and society tells us to strive; it’s good for self-evolution, but more often than not, it can cause us to live a life we can’t afford or we don’t necessarily want.
Most self-help podcasts tell us to do what scares us, to get out of our comfort zone and risk it all for our dreams… but some of us have no idea what we want! While it’s important to strive for what we want (more gracefully named ”manifesting”), it’s equally important to ask ourselves when to draw the line or stand. Susan Cain, the author of Quite says, “The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting.” This is true for more than selfies; it means that you should consciously put yourself in a place where you can be your best—and that doesn’t always look the way you think.
Below are the 5 rules to live by for those strive or stand decisions so you can choose “the right lighting” for you.
1. Nothing and no one is as intimidating as they seem
The beauty of acknowledging the universal strive means no one is exempt from not feeling like enough sometimes. Your boss gets nervous, the hottest guys get rejected, and the prettiest girls don’t feel pretty enough. Your mentors lose their way and, believe it or not, even your parents are still waiting for their parents to be proud. We are all experience the same phases of life, just different versions of it. Once you realize this, nothing is as scary anymore and it becomes easier to know when to strive or when to stand.
2. Stop putting yourself in situations you already know make you unhappy
My New Year’s resolution this past year was “No longer go places you’re not celebrated.” And, this has easily been one of the best years of my life! I got my dream job, got paid to travel to my favorite places, healed so much past trauma, moved back to my dream city, got a selfish amount of sleep and reading in, cut out the toxic relationships that were draining my life source and, most importantly, I realized the love I spent all night dreaming about, I already had. I realize now that I was so distracted chasing things that didn’t’ belong to me that I was running further away from the things that did. When was the last time you thought about your long term happiness?
3. Stick to what you know and if it reminds you of the person you want to be, stay there
The more you stick to the options you know feel good, all of your options will start to get better. Chances are if you’re pretty unhappy with your life or you’re not “thrilled” about it, you’re consistently choosing the wrong option for you. You can choose to walk home the route past the bar you and your ex met or you can choose the scenic route with the bridge and dog park—one will make you feel like crap the rest of the day and I doubt it’s the one with the Goldendoodle. If you haven’t found your better options yet, pause; just stand where you are and accept the current circumstance. Don’t go out and run into people you’d rather not see. Instead, choose to stay home, grab that book you haven’t finished, learn to paint or play guitar, run a bubble bath, and just check out!
4. Sometimes doing less is so much more
Take a step back and choose wisely. You don’t have to be the smartest or hottest girl in the room. It’s important to put your best foot forward, but it’s not necessary to try so hard to impress people. Sometimes doing less does so much more. Know when to talk and when to listen. Believe it or not, you don’t always want what you think you do, and you can learn so much more by stepping out of the light every once in a while. Observe the people around you and let them speak. You can find out what you don’t want more quickly when you’re not the center of attention, and you can accept it with grace.
5. You’re going to get there anyway
The great thing about not actually being sure of what you want is that you’re always right! (I know it doesn’t sound like it makes sense, but everything I ever did “wrong” still got me the things I really wanted.) Focus on your long term wants and don’t stress the in-betweens. Sure, you won’t always have good options or know how to identify the in-betweens, but it will start to get clearer the more you choose wisely. The things you want will always change but if you continue to choose yourself, the change will always be for the better. Skipping that social thing you don’t really want to go to, for example, will not drastically affect your social status, but going and continuing to be a version of yourself you’re trying outgrow might.