Everyone always says that it is important to surround yourself with people that affect you in a positive way. Having started my university experience badly, I found myself eventually finding a group of friends whose work ethic rubbed off on me. I began to achieve better grades and I inherited many of their traits, such as their desire to improve and learn every day.
I was proud of myself and grateful for having found such friends; they are ambitious, driven and also well-rounded individuals who excel academically, in sport and are also kind people. Furthermore, I was finding myself follow suit.
They became increasingly recognised for their work ethic and success.
Yet, although I know I should have been, I couldn’t bring myself to be happy for them. I was frustrated and jealous and I didn’t understand why.
Looking back, I think I felt that I was being left behind. They were succeeding while my growth was stagnant – somehow I saw myself to be “failing”. I blamed it on the fact that maybe I wasn’t working as hard as I thought I was, or perhaps I wasn’t as clever as they were. It affected my confidence and self-esteem. And sad to say, it also began to affect my friendship with them.
I confided in a close friend of mine and discussed how I was feeling. What she said brought to light a huge problem with my thinking.
She explained that I was too obsessed with what everyone else thought of me and this was translating into how I perceived myself. The resulting feeling of this was lower self-confidence, and this had a knock-on effect. As I became less sure of myself, I subsequently hindered my ability to improve and learn. I became too scared to ask for help or show any other signs of “weakness”.
This way of thinking is incredibly hard to stop. Once a habit is ingrained in your behaviour, it is difficult to unlearn. However, I recognised a need for change. Whilst I endured to unravel this habit, I became aware of a method to deal with it, which is working for me. So, I am sharing this in the hope that it may help any of you.
As long as I focus on the things I need to do to improve and learn, I will slowly achieve the goals I set. This way I will be too busy to focus on what everyone else thinks about me and focus on actually improving, which means I actually will.
And so, knowing that I am improving, I feel a lot more confident and satisfied with myself.
Most importantly, as a good friend of mine always points out to me, everyone is different. The sooner you accept you are different, the less you will compare and care about what other people think. Isaac Newton and Elon Musk are both strange in their own respects, but stayed true to themselves and are celebrated individuals.
I still struggle to completely ignore how other people perceive me or to stop trying to impress others. I am by no means a perfect person.
Nonetheless, I realise now that I am a work in progress. I embrace this, yet I will always try to become better.
Embrace your uniqueness and weirdness and strive to always improve and learn. Everyone has a different starting position. Everyone will face his or her own challenges and deal with different circumstances on the road to achieving what they want.
Be individual and respect yourself.
Run your own race.
– Freddy Thong
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