Life after college, whether you have gone on to grad school, gotten a job, or headed back home to regain your bearings, is a period of significant change.
Up until this point, the bulk of our energy has gone into learning and navigating our way through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Those years had a way of carrying their own momentum; with our eyes always set on the future and our attention fixated on the best to make it to the next milestone. However, there wasn’t much focus on the more important aspects of life, like how we treated others on a more personal level or the quality of relationships that were formed and eventually broken.
I have found that at this stage in my life has been a good time to glance back and learn things about myself I may have ignored. It is hard not to have the occasional moment of reflection where I stop and think about how I’ve gotten to where I am now, and what decisions have been the catalysts for this path. For me, that included transferring schools, taking an internship across the country, and coming back home to help my family.
Generally speaking, these have been common decisions that I am sure many of you have experienced. But occasionally, I will dig deeper and discover things that I may not be so proud of, things that differ from person to person.
It’s these moments of selfishness or meanness, treating someone as a means to an end rather than treating them with respect, and lacking patience or consideration for someone, or often times, taking said person for granted.
While I don’t consider myself a bad person, it is hard to not feel disappointed with some of these faults of mine.
Life has a way of dropping little landmines along the road that shock you into realizing your lack of self-awareness. Sometimes this can be devastating, like the loss of a family member, or a bad breakup. For me, it was my father having a stroke.
Amongst the turmoil of coming to terms with it and fighting to stay in control, it also released me from my false sense of perfection. Being so emotionally damaged had a way of grounding me. It made me stop and think about how I had been conducting myself, and who I may have neglected or hurt in the past.
These years of adolescence are the groundwork for the rest of our adulthood. Hopefully, if done right, they will lead you to a fulfilling the life of your own choosing. But to deny yourself the opportunity to self-reflect is an injustice to yourself, but also to those around you.
Take a look at your relationships.
Think about the people you have been with in the past and how you have treated them.
What are you ashamed of?
What could you have done better?
What makes you proud?
I’d be willing to bet that every one of us has some shade of gray in our past that we’re not so proud of. Somewhere along the line, there was a person you didn’t give the benefit of the doubt too, someone you could have treated better. These last 20some-odd years have been all about personal growth. But what growth comes without an abundance of errors? Take the time to look your faults in the eye and face the music.
Although our years prior to adulthood programmed us to continue to move full speed ahead, we must remember to slow down, look back and switch things up before it’s too late.