Years back I have this problem about overloading my plate with various undertakings. I would be involved with too many projects all running at the same time. Because I was young and strong, I became too greedy to accomplish many things. Sometimes, it went to a point where it would be too much for me to bear. Too much, there were times, I became physically ill.
I hate to admit it, but most of the activities I have chosen to indulge in during that particular time, failed, and this devastated me; it affected me so much it drove me to near bouts of depression.
Allow me to tell you what I got involved in at that stage of my life. I ran a food cart business, took up a degree in pastoral studies, and led a church-planting group. On top of that, I had two side businesses: organizing events, and operating a networking business.
Like I said earlier, since I was much younger, and believed I had the energy to do all of them, I decided to pursue these endeavors. I was confident I would be able to run them smoothly, until I was driven into situations where I would be forced to have toxic schedules. I would run on a calendar of activities that are so crazy, I would be stressed to the point of having difficulty of sleeping and losing appetite.
The experience was so painful because I would be neglecting some aspects in all of those undertakings. Sadly, even sacrificing precious time with my wife and family.
I would have conflict of schedules that would stress me out. There was a time when I forgot one important appointment because it had the same schedule as the one on the other. At the time, I didn’t realize the conflict, so I went ahead and made the appointment. Upon realizing the mistake, I would get disappointed with myself, be embarrassed, and would go and apologize to the people I have missed an important appointment with, and be sorry for myself for a number of days.
In fact, in one particular incident, because I have missed an important function, I have lost the privilege of leading a church small group. Man… that was agonizing. Church is so big to me.
Through this experience, I have learned the painful lesson that I’m not made to manage various undertakings all running in the same time line. On a brighter note, because of the same experience, I have learned to be wiser. Now I have the wisdom to only take on few projects; only the ones that are meaningful to me and just enough of them for me to handle well. Now, I also know the load that’s comfortable for me, and am fully aware to only focus on my real passions; one of which is writing.
Finally, this significant realization has led me to have more successes in life.
There are times in life where we are paralyzed by fear. Fear grips us so hard, we decide to stop doing something.
It may be chasing our dreams, starting an exercise routine to lose weight or asking the cute girl out on a date.
Fear is real.
However, as I look back and reflect, I realized that the most painful occurrences are not those that took place, but those that didn’t. Especially if the outcome could have ended well if I’ve taken that chance.
Life taught me that fear is only a temporary state, most times, that fear can usually be easily overcome.
Unless you have gun pointing to your head or find yourself in a life threatening situation, don’t ever let fear take control.
I realize that if I’m paralyze by fear and not pursue my dreams, my dreams will only remain a dream.
If I’m afraid to start losing weight, I’ll forever remain pudgy and if I’m afraid that I might get rejected by that cute girl without asking her out, rejection has already took place.
Lesson: By not trying, the default is already no.
For the longest time, I feared both rejection and failure. So I did my best to always be perfect: perfect student, perfect friend, perfect woman. I was miserable, always chasing an impossible dream.
Eventually I realized: rejection and failure will happen. They’re unavoidable. They hurt, but they make space for new projects, new friends, new chapters in life. Rejection and failure aren’t my enemies, they’re some of my best teachers.
I crashed my car under booze 15 months ago and I can say, that was my biggest lesson in life. Even though I was flipping all over (wheels and roof 3-4 times) that day changed my life. I was lucky I got couple of bruises but I stated giving accent to every moment that I can inhale and exhale.
Sometimes things are pretty simple and we are making them complicated (like driving under booze). There are simple rules in life that we need to digest and use them everyday. After respecting those rules and grasping the virtues, every piece of the puzzle will be connected.
As I’m only 21, the majority of my life so far has been spent in stereotypically turbulent teenage years where the most important thing I recall learning was don’t gloat about your high score on online Scrabble to other kids. That does not make them want to be your friend for some reason. What I’m trying to say is I’m still very much learning about life.
That said, a couple of months ago I did come to the painful realisation that almost every overwhelming, excruciating issue that I’ve ever had in my short life came from and were caused by me. At the time, I would be convinced that the world was simply cruel and I have wasted so much time wallowing in self-pity and confusion but now I realise that I created the majority of those experiences, and more worryingly they could have been avoided.
There’s a wonderful quote I once read that says something along the lines of “The problem is not the problem, it’s how we perceive the problem” which really hit home with me. I did attempt to Google the actual quote but since this is the Internet it said this could be anyone from Ghandi to Miley Cyrus. Although this was a painful and humbling realisation it was also one of the best as I know I can control experiences that I once thought were completely out of my hands, and I can attempt to avoid negative life experiences far more often in the future.
The two most painful lessons that I had to learn are both to do with people and managing the different relationships that we have with them. The first thing that I learnt, and this has been a very important lesson for me, is that when you are in a budding relationship with someone, it is necessary to compromise, but never compromise to a point where you lose your identity for the sake of wanting to be accepted by the person you’re going out with. Don’t make excuses for who you are to accommodate someone else in your life. You might find you will start to struggle the moment you become someone you’re not. Stay true to yourself and never make excuses for who you are.
The second most important lesson I learnt is that it ceases to be a good and healthy friendship the moment that one friend puts in 51% to the friendship constantly. The moment the friendship scale tips towards one end, it means that one of the people in the friendship/relationship is more willing to put in an effort to the relationship to make it work. Friendships should be all about bringing out the goodness in each other and making each other shine. They’re all about helping each other get through the storms and constantly putting in an effort to contribute and receive. If you find yourself having to look for your friends when things get tough, reevaluate the friendship and how much you are willing to give vs what they are willing to put in. If you’re a constant donor, find ways to work out of that friendship and focus on the few people that genuinely want to form a relationship with you and the people who will be able to tell that you’re not well, without you having said anything to them. These are the friends who constantly make an effort to chat with you regularly even if it’s for a few mins each day. Not the friends who don’t know about your major achievements or current status; the people who you have to start from the very beginning before you get to talking about the current matter at hand.
It’s ok to be selfish if it means keeping your mind healthy.