The Absurdity of the Negative Self-Talk Trend and Why We Need to Give Ourselves Some Slack
Words By: Aurora Krogh
“There’s just so much I haven’t done, and my essay was bad, and I’ve eaten way too much chocolate lately and I should really go to the gym, and have a job and… I’m just not managing”
How come even surrounded by the most ambitious and amazing people, all I hear is how they are not doing well enough?
Let me tell you how I would describe my life right now:
I’m living abroad and studying for a Masters degree, which has turned out to be both amazing and super challenging. I’m just finishing up an internship that I worked hard to get, and I’m about to start working on my thesis. It’s all going great, I did my best on my exams and I am sure the thesis will go well too. All in all, I’ happy and I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be.
Now, let me tell you how I usually talk about it:
“I have no idea what I’m doing. I probably could’ve done better on my exams. I don’t know if I’m performing well in my internship. I have no idea what to write my master thesis about. I spend more money than I should. I don’t even remember how the inside of my gym looks.”
Same girl, same life. Is anyone else guilty of talking themselves down in this way?
Some would say that the top one is what it looks like and the other is the reality, but that is not the case; there’s nothing in that first part which is not true. The second one, however, is filled with self-doubt and insecurities, not truths. Well, except the money part (but let’s face it, food is life).
In the middle of studying for what turned out to be a crazy, no play – no sleep, masters degree, I realize that the only one not complimenting me on my hard work is me. The same goes for all the talented people around me.
Never before have I been surrounded by so many inspiring and hard-working people. Still, I hear my friends and I describe ourselves in the same way; we didn’t do this, we didn’t do that. Even if we know we did our best, and even if we have the results to prove it, there’s always something we could have done better, worked harder on. Didn’t read all the books, didn’t go to the gym, ate too much chocolate (like there’s such a thing as too much chocolate).
When are we ever going to live up to our own standards? Of course we could always do more. We all know someone worthy of the student of the year award. Perfect grades, lots of extracurricular activities, member of several committees. Those people are doing great, but does that mean what you’re doing isn’t great too?
I applaud the student of the year, but I also applaud everyone else working hard on achieving their goals. I’ve realized a lot of my self-critique comes from attempting to achieve goals that aren’t truly mine. I want to be a good student, but are the super-students’ goals my goals? No, for me personally, being a good student right now means no extracurricular activities, no committee involvement, but focusing on my studies and myself. If you’re honest with yourself; among all the perceived expectations and goals placed upon you by society or your environment, how many of them are your goals?
Making sure our goals are based on who we are and what we want is incredibly important. Don’t spend your time feeling bad for not accomplishing things you don’t even need to accomplish right now – or ever. Remember that the fact that you’re here working towards your goals is because you managed to reach some other, older goals of yours. You didn’t “just” get a Bachelor degree, you worked hard for it, you put in the work required to get to where you are today. You’re allowed to feel proud, and you should.
Some days my goal is to work the whole day and then go to the gym, other days my goal is to find the best coffee in town. Every day, my goal is to get better at complimenting myself for things I managed to do, for still continuing to work towards my goals, and for continuing to remind myself that my life is much more like the first version than the second.
Stop and think about it for a moment and I bet you’ll find that you’re more than managing – you’re killing it. The truth is that you’re probably doing your best, like me, and that is all you can do. Sometimes that means getting the best grades, other times it means eating a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching Netflix. You go girl, you got this. Don’t let yourself or anyone else tell you differently. And even if the student of the year award doesn’t go to you, make sure the supporter of the year award does.
[Please feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments section]