Dear gentle reader, I know that life may not feel easy right now, but this is your sign that you will be okay. With the promise to myself that my last year of university would be the best – I would feel happiest and thrive to my highest potential, life always does its thing and throws its emotional, mental, and physical challenges at us. As we balance the demands of our work and personal lives, it is not an easy task to remain patient with ourselves when we are forced to confront the hardships that inevitably float to the surface. However, we must not ignore our innate resilience to let go of what is holding us back or weighing us down.
For too long, I have mired in self-pity, blaming my sadness and worry on the people and events around me. There exists a delicate balance between invalidating one’s feelings and taking responsibility and accountability for our mindset. Our minds possess extraordinary power, capable of influencing our lives for better or worse. Rather than allowing self-deprecating thoughts and the need to control my life spiral me into a chasm of doubt, I began to learn about the art of detachment, which to me means “letting go and having faith.” I would like to share some strategies that have helped me remain buoyant and surrender to both life’s beauties and hardships.
Detaching from how others perceive you
The most confident and successful people are those who do not feel the need to prove to anyone how correct, funny, beautiful, intelligent, or abundant they are. To walk into any room with your head held high, knowing that you are more than enough, no matter what people will say or think about you, is the kindest gesture of appreciation you can give to yourself. Deep breaths, affirmations, and a tall posture are great ways to refuel yourself with validation and break down whispers of self-doubt and hesitation to fully show up as your authentic self.
I constantly remind myself that other people’s opinions and actions are not my business and that, in turn, I need not doubt the validity of my own decisions and path. The right people will see me as worthy of love and admiration, and those who are not meant for me will naturally weed themselves out of my life. One of my closest friends taught me the following analogy of life moving like a train: as the train progresses on its path to new places, people get off at certain stops, and others will get on, and sometimes the train may even be empty for a while, but nevertheless, it still keeps on moving.
Detaching from future outcomes
I like to think about this as “surrendering to the bigger plan.” Firstly, I try to only concern myself with what I can control in the present moment. I find peace in leaving my anxieties about things beyond my control, such as other people, the past, and the future, in God’s hands. Believing in a higher power, the universe, or a higher self allows us to take pressure off ourselves to know everything all the time.
With that, one of the biggest lessons I learned this year is that we can never know if our present decisions will lead to a particular outcome. While we can create habits to live a healthy lifestyle, build more meaningful relationships, and succeed in our futures, these habits do not eliminate the inevitabilities that come with life, such as getting sick, having our hearts broken, or losing a job. It is how we reposition ourselves to not view these as “failures” but simply the next “plot twist” in each of our stories. Like in our favourite movies, with every plot twist comes a mini identity crisis for the main character consisting of deep moments of self-reflection, followed by a transformation into a wiser, more robust version of themselves.
Having faith detaches us from allowing specific outcomes to be the source of our validation. Learning to reprogram our minds through reading, prayer, journaling, or meditation can allow us to reflect on what we need to be present.
Detaching from hustle culture
It is easy to get caught up in working longer hours and studying till we drop. Often, there comes guilt with setting boundaries regarding how much work we allow ourselves to do in one day. We fulfill our sense of self by “doing” instead of recognizing that we are enough by simply “being.” To begin with this mindset, the first step is learning to prioritize resting unapologetically.
Prioritizing tasks is a lot easier said than done when we feel that we have no choice but to complete everything on our to-do list today. Here is an analogy that my dad once gave me that helped me start feeling more confident about saying no to plans and postponing tasks to find time to rest: he said, “Our bodies are like machines. If you leave a fan or even your laptop on for too long, it will begin to overheat and can eventually stop functioning (this is equivalent to us “burning out”). Every once in a while, we need to turn the machine off to allow it to cool down so it can run again smoothly.”
Intentionally spending time alone by running a bath, cooking, or going on a walk allows me to build a friendship with myself and, in turn, interact with other people and confront day-to-day situations with more ease and clarity. There is power in carving out time for ourselves to better show up for our health, success, and community.
Detaching from navigating life on your own
While time alone is crucial, it is okay to lean on the people we trust when we need support. Although sometimes we may feel alone, the people around us want to see us happy and healthy. There is no shame in asking for help when we need it. When my friends come to me with something on their mind, I love being there for them and supporting them in any way I can. Believing that the people who care about me also feel this way towards me is essential in allowing me to ask for help and feel supported.
Talk to people you trust. This could be your family, friends, a mentor, or even a support group. In addition to my close family members who have been my lifelong supporters, I have found community at McMaster’s Student Open Circle. Open Circle’s weekly reflection circles and bonding events have a unique sense of genuineness and safety, where I feel welcomed and heard. By attending regularly as a form of self-care, I check in with myself to learn about new ways I can think and elevate myself and those around me, as well as be reminded that other people are having similar experiences navigating life.
Conclusion: Finding peace
As I enter adulthood, I have realized the importance of having my own inner parental voice that helps me pick myself up when I’m in a slump or when I feel like I have hit a wall. Parenting ourselves as young adults means finding ways to keep self-discipline and maintain a healthy and structured daily routine, all while having patience, compassion, and holding space for non-judgment and self-forgiveness.
Releasing the burden of external judgments, having faith in a higher purpose, wholeheartedly embracing moments of rest, and seeking solace within a supportive community are powerful ways to welcome life’s challenges with ease and learn to find peace.