If you uttered the word birthday to me this past month, I would tense up. I was angry thinking about my birthday. I thought of it as: “Oh no I’m another year older, what did I accomplish? Did I do enough? Am I doing enough towards my end goal?” Needless to say, I have high expectations of myself and I am indeed, my worst critic. In my post about turning 22, I felt that it was a grey year, and it was. Maybe that’s because my vibe was grey (you know, the vibe you put out there is what you receive kind of thing- that whole law of attraction). So I just wasn’t looking forward to a birthday this year. It was only until a few days leading up to it, I felt excited and happy, and hopeful. My attitude and perspective changed where I thought, “You know what? I feel like this year is going to be a good year.”
This past year I was hard on myself, thinking I would benefit from constantly critiquing myself and pushing myself to be and do better. When in reality it just placed so much pressure and stress to the point where my body reacted in a panic attack. It was like I was knocked out, and I was out of it for a couple of days just laying in bed, doing nothing and having to just listen to what my body was telling me.
I needed that to happen as my wake up call. So when I felt myself putting pressure again, thinking “Omg, what did I do this year, did I do anything great? Why did I waste my time, why didn’t I volunteer more and stay more in tune with the arts community etc etc” all these things where it was like Julia, chill. You had some set backs, you had personal growth, you still made art and got into shows and volunteer, you need to remember the positives and what you did achieve.
It’s annoying how easy it is to get caught up in what other people are doing and comparing your paths to theirs – it happens, it’s uncomfortable and stressful where we are at a point of our lives where “So what are you up to?” is the new “How are you?” I hate this question. Some people reacted to my job as a true indicator of who I am. When it’s not. Or they look at me with remorse and say “Oh really?” or a fake, “Ohhhh, good for you.” Or they’ll talk about a mutual friend who they feel is at a dead end not doing anything and turn and look at you and say, “at least you’re making money though.” Which then makes you want to melt into a puddle and disappear or bite your tongue because you really want to say “You know what? Check your privilege and your own circumstances first, don’t judge me. Whatever happened to just being supportive?!” But instead you just zone out of the conversation, and nod when appropriate thinking about what you did wrong and going into a downward spiral of self-critizing thoughts. (Small talk is the worst).
I’ve had many challenges and yet the biggest one I’ve consistently had to deal with is making sure I liked myself and believed in myself. I’m/you/we are all so quick to believe in other people ie our friends, peers, and even complete strangers, but when it comes down to us, we’re like: “Me? What? I can’t do that, no way. I’m not good/smart/ whatever enough.” When you are enough.
Do you know what I’m learning/ constantly have to remind myself? Who cares what other people think. Don’t do something to impress others, do it to impress yourself. I will admit part of my anxiety was fuelled by social media pressure and my pressure to please others and prove to them and to myself I’m not a failure. (This post got real, very fast). I would go on Linkedin or Facebook or Instagram and see my peers absolutely killing it in their field, on the right tracks, travelling etc leaving me feeling that I’m so behind on this nonexistent race to success. As if success isn’t infinite, when it is. We can all be successful on our own terms! Social media is all curated anyway. No one is going to post saying: WOO I’m in student debt here’s a selfie with my monthly payment! Or whatever. Everyone has some sort of struggle that you don’t see.
My moments of relief and being really me, happened when I didn’t care what people thought. I did whatever anyway because it was for me. I don’t care if people ~like me or my art~ if they do, that’s awesome and I’m thankful for the genuine support. But I’m doing it because it makes me happy. I post and share what I want and do what I want, when I want and that little thought is incredibly liberating.
Nobody likes you when you’re 23? Who cares, as long as you like you.
I had a great birthday and it’s going to be a good year.
I should say, this past year was nothing I imagined it to be with obstacles left, right, and centre. I am so incredibly thankful for the support of my friends and family for reminding me that I am worth it, telling me to chill when I needed to, and just believing in me and supporting me and my dreams. Thank you. (cheesy but true)