Four Personal Skills That Changed My Life

1. Adaptability

For eighteen years, my life was fairly consistent and predictable. I lived in the same house with the same people. Most of my hometown friends I had known for five or more years. I played all the same sports and did the same activities for most of it. The most exciting change I underwent was switching from one grade to the next, but even that was consistent year to year.

On one hand, consistency can be comforting. Keeping stable constants in your life to fall back on is healthy and can be reassuring. On the other hand, if every single aspect is never changing life can get a little boring. For the longest time, I was programmed to avoid major changes and situations that I could not plan out in my head. When I did have to face new situations, anxiety would override my senses to the point where it would ruin the whole thing off the bat.

Paper plane Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Then one day, it was like a switch went off in my head. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same things repeatedly and expecting different results. I felt unfulfilled with what I was doing, but what was scared of all I the things I wanted to try. Gradually, I started branching out. I tried new clubs and sports and talked to more people. I purposely placed myself in unfamiliar situations where I knew I would be uncomfortable.

In the process, I developed the adaptability I had been lacking for so long. Without it, I would never have experienced some of the most amazing things in my life. It gave me the courage to start over on my own twice in a row when I went to a college a thousand miles away and moved to Spain within the same year. Now, I do not run away from new experiences. I seek them.

If you can adapt easily, you will be surprised how much less stressful life becomes. When unexpected events occur, like maybe a sudden global pandemic, you will be more mentally prepared to navigate the twists and turns.

2. Vulnerability

For some people, pouring out your emotions and thoughts to others comes naturally. For the rest of us, vulnerability can be anything on the scale from uncomfortable to downright terrifying. They may also fall into the category I, unfortunately, live in- the people who at one point felt comfortable opening up to people, but got hurt as a result of it.

For years, I never wanted to let people inside my head. Giving people access to the vulnerable parts of yourself is giving someone the power to possibly affect them. I was always very self-conscious and never wanted people to impact how I feel about the parts I liked about myself so instead, I hid them. I never talked about the things I loved or how I felt about everything. As a result, even the people who thought they knew me best were only getting fragments of the whole picture.

When I finally started opening up to the world, I found it opens up in return. It turns out when you can never fully open up to others, they will be more hesitant to show their true selves to you. It is simply the law of attraction. Real, genuine connection occurs when people are real and honest. People will also feel more comfortable and closer to you if they feel like they are getting to see the more meaningful details of who you are.

It can be terrifying letting people see the vulnerable sides of you and it might be a slow, painful process once you decide to, but it is so worth it in the end. There is always a risk that you will get hurt, but the good outnumbers the bad tenfold. Once you learn how to be vulnerable to others, your relationships start to become deeper and more understanding. You eventually find yourself growing into a more holistic and truer version of yourself.

3. Being more appreciative

In the crazy world we are living in today, it is too easy to slip into a negative state of mind. The news and media that are shoved into our face 24 hours of the day are almost always negative and concerning. All we are hearing are things that are happening that we either cannot control or should be more worried about. We are also living in unprecedented times with the pandemic always hovering over everything we do. In all the noise, it is too easy to forget all the things we should be thankful for.

When President Trump’s travel ban was released early March of this year, I was studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. The whole program went into a frenzy. People were in the stairwells calling loved ones to book flights home because it was too loud in their apartments from the panic. At the time, it looked like our options were either to catch an international flight home within the next day or be stuck in Spain during a global crisis for at least three weeks. travel airplane sky sunset Tessa Pesicka / Her Campus

Two nights later, I found myself packing up everything and saying goodbye to the beautiful city a month and a half early. The eight-hour plane ride home was mostly empty and quiet. I had plenty of time to think about how shocking and scary the whole thing was, but instead found myself gazing out the window. Within the same day, I had taken off during a sunset and was landing during another.

Sometimes you have to step back and not take everything so seriously. You have a choice every single day whether you let the bad overcome the good. Being more appreciative is one step towards the good. Do not let the double sunsets in life pass you by because you were too stressed out to even notice them. 

4. Comfortability with Confrontation

This may not apply to everyone out there. Some are just lucky enough to be born with the gumption to say what’s on their mind to whoever. For those who are not, there are too many instances where unconfrontational people accept treatment that is far less than they deserve because they are too afraid to ever speak up.

Like I mentioned earlier, I was self-conscious and shy growing up. I was also a people pleaser. I would gladly light myself on fire to keep others warm and because of that, I became a doormat. People used me or would simply treat me poorly because they knew I would never fight back because I was afraid to hurt them or lose them.

As a result of this, so many unspoken thoughts and pure frustration just built up inside me until I would fall apart very consistently. I was unhappy with my friendships and relationships because I was carrying around all this anger towards them from all the times I had regretted not saying something or standing up for myself.

Unfortunately, a time came where all that pent-up stress and those emotions turned me into a spiteful person. I was irritable and quick to snap at those I was closest to. The one bright side to that time in my life is that I came out unafraid to speak my mind when I am upset about something.

post it wall of love Kyle Glenn

I hope you do not have to reach that point so I will tell you now that it is worth not keeping all your frustration inside. There is a line between harmful and healthy confrontation. Once you discover that line and become comfortable not always telling people what they want to hear, it will relieve so much anger and regret.

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