LonelyPop Mental Health Awareness: Love Yourself

This article was originally posted on Medium.

I admit I was hesitant to write about my mental health journey. It was easy to dismiss my suffering as less than others and unimportant to share. However, after reading a LonelyPop Mental Health Awareness Twitter post, I felt inspired to share my story. I speak from my own experience hoping my story can help someone else.

In college, there were moments when I experienced the lowest points in my life. I was not happy with the person I was. While my social life was thriving with meeting new people and experiencing new things, I wasn’t content with my life. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I wasn’t happy with my accomplishments, and I felt lost. I had placed expectations on myself that I didn’t meet. I compared myself to the success of others around me and saw that I didn’t reach the same level. I had “failed” at meeting these standards for myself. I ran away from these feelings by keeping busy, hanging out with friends, social events, etc. Until after college, there was nowhere left to run to anymore and I forced myself to confront these feelings.

From the outside looking in, it didn’t seem like I was any worst off than anyone else but to me, I had failed to measure up. I grew up being compared to my peers and my family. We poke fun at the Asian narrative of good grades and earning a high salary, but when you don’t measure up to that frame of success that is placed on you, it’s hard to not feel like you’re good enough.

I compared myself to my friends and strangers. In the age of social media, it’s hard to not look at someone and measure yourself to them. I grew resentful of the people around me. I placed unreal high expectations of myself. I felt like a failure.

But I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. So, I decided to change myself, to love myself, and to become the best version of myself.

Here are the main lessons I have learned:

Do not compare yourself to others.
The only person you compare yourself to is the past version of yourself. Don’t diminish your success with other people’s success. Your accomplishment matters.

Adopting a stoic mindset.
Do not let external factors control you, you only have control of one thing: yourself, your thoughts, and your actions.

Set yourself up for success by building good habits and shaping the person you want to become.
I highly recommend reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book had an enormous impact on me in pursuing small wins every day.

Don’t let fear rule you.
I stumbled on this article, If You Want To Be Fearless, Ask Yourself This Question Every Day by Brian Pennie, on Medium one day.

Someone once told me the definition of hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.”

I won’t dive into details about the article because I think it’s better to read it yourself, but he began to ask himself the question, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”. A lot of times, we let fear stop us from acting. I have been guilty of letting fear rule my life. I have talked myself out of decisions because I was afraid of failing. Now, I ask myself this question every time I feel fear. Don’t you know? “Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear”.

Don’t worry about the critics.
I stumbled on a quote randomly watching a Brene Brown special on Netflix. The quote was “The Man in The Arena” by Theodore Roosevelt.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Every time I doubt myself in going after a new endeavor, I think of this quote and push forward.

It took some time, but gradually, I started changing. I stopped caring about posting on Instagram or looking at what other people posted. I discovered myself and what I loved doing. I began to grow more confident.

Sometimes, I still am hyper-critical of myself, and I’ll still think I’m not good enough. I will have doubts about what I’m doing in life and imposter syndrome will creep in. But as time goes by, it becomes easier to pull out of that mindset. If I’m becoming the better person than I was yesterday, that’s all that matters. I am still learning about myself and growing, but I am finally in a place in my life where I am truly happy.

Thank you for reading. If you feel or have ever felt this way, know that you aren’t alone. #lonelytogether