Want a Fresh Start? Start Here.

I recently decided that I am giving myself a fresh start. I am not going to lie, this semester has most certainly not been my favorite. However, I am trying to do things differently. I have been including some gifs of Miss Alabama Hannah in my recent articles because she is the energy I am going for, so I shall include more here. Miss Alabama Hannah went from not thriving a few months ago to living her best life, so maybe I can do that too. These are the ten “rules” (in quotes because that sounds firm) I am giving myself for my fresh start:

1. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else

This one is tough. I will be the first to admit that I struggle with this one. Just the other day, I went to the gym for the first time in two weeks after having a sinus infection. I went on the treadmill, and I found myself thinking, “Wow, that girl next to me is running so fast, I should run that fast too.” Luckily before I could find the speed buttons, I realized something: my nose just experienced an internal mini-war, and I can actually speak in a normal tone of voice once again that doesn’t make me sound like I am four years old. I do not need to do a mile sprint just because the girl next to me is. I will go at my own pace and be content with the fact that I simply made it to the gym. I’ve always been more of a cheeseburger person than a kale salad person anyways.

2. Mute certain people on social media

I am here to tell you that Instagram and Snapchat have this wonderful feature: the “mute story” option. I have muted a certain human being on both of these social media platforms, and let me tell you it has done me more favors than I can count. When you aren’t aware of a person’s daily events, it is freeing. Sometimes we just need to detox our brains from certain individuals. I mean if you really dislike them that much, there is always the liberating unfollow/unfriend option too…

3. Stop listening to bad advice

I mean it – STOP! I have learned that I should only inform my closest friends and my parents about my misadventures because everyone else will just fill my head with extra noise I do not need. I tell three of my best friends on campus about my craziness, and then everyone else gets the Sparknotes version. When you are flooded with too many opinions, making decisions becomes more overwhelming than it needs to be. Quality over quantity, my friends. Whether you are Christian or not, I think this verse says it well: “Let those who are friendly to you be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.” If you, your parents, and your closest friends cannot figure it out, no one can.

4. Find ways to vent

This one is critical. Everyone needs to find their outlets. One of mine is going to the gym. I can’t tell you that I do really intense workouts – I truthfully don’t think God intends for me to lift anything heavier than twenty pounds, but exercising does help me clear my mind. I also write in a journal too. I find that writing about my day helps bring clarity to my mind about what is going on, and it helps me avoid overthinking myself into oblivion. PSA: overthinking is a disease! I’ve thought about maybe giving my journals to my daughters someday to do the whole “mom didn’t know what she was doing either” bit, but honestly looking through them as of lately, I think some of my entries could make my future children question whether I have the credibility to be leading them into battle.

5. Be honest with people

Person: “How are you?”

You: “Good, how are you?”

Just don’t.

One of my education professors once said, “When you are honest with people, they will be honest back.” This is the truth tea we need to be sipping even if it is scolding. I recently spoke with a person who I perceived to have it “all together.” She is pretty, takes science classes that would make my brain do backflips, is genuinely kind, and effortlessly cool. When I spoke to her, she was real and said this semester wasn’t really going well. While I felt badly for her, I couldn’t wait to say that this semester wasn’t exactly my favorite either. She and I bonded over how excited we are for next semester and a fresh start. While you might be making a frowny face that the two of us were not thriving at that moment, turn your frown upside down from this: two people connected through honesty. Now isn’t that the flagship Disney Channel plotline?

6. Learn to be happy with what you have

This may tie-in with not comparing yourself to others, but this one is highly important. I had been on this weird kick of thinking, “gosh, I wonder what life would be like if I was blonde and had a good tan.” Well, I have concluded that I could very well dye my hair and get a spray tan, but I would not look like myself. I am thankful for my unique reddish-brown hair, my eyes that match, and my pale skin that miraculously tans from Maine beach days. Here’s the secret no one wants you to know: those girls aren’t naturally that tan or blonde either.

7. Find alone time

One thing I need to do every day is be by myself for an hour. Whether I just sit in one of those mysterious, secret cubbie desks in the library or sit in my room, I need to be by myself and not have an obligation to speak to anyone. I think that college sometimes makes me feel like I need to have human interaction until I drop, but I need to take my hour, so I don’t want to ScReAm at the person who put THAT straw on my back. Alone time is a normal human need, so tune out the noise my friends.

8. Start doing what you want to do, not what you think you should do

Keep what I’m about to say within reason: If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. Now, I know there are some crafty individuals out there who will do their own creative interpretation and claim that I am encouraging everyone to lay in bed all day and not see the natural light of day ever again. That is not what I’m encouraging y’all to do, and you know it. For the first time all semester, I found myself searching one night for work to do. One of my friends asked me if I wanted to come along to the 99 and then go to Target, and I at first declined, believing I would find something I just HAD to do. Then about twenty minutes later, I realized it was time to get my burger at the 99 and then look at Christmas decorations at Target, instead of doing what I thought I should be doing. I sometimes need to remember that with my personality, if there is something to get done, I will most certainly be getting it done prior to the deadline. Live a little. It will all get done at some point.

9. Recognize that not everyone is going to like everything you do

I can’t please everyone! Jealousy is a disease – get well soon! I could walk around smiling for the rest of my life and never saying anything bad about anything EVER in existence, and there would still be people who do not like me. Stop doing things just to see if other people will like you more and actually do what you think is best. There will always be haters. Fame is prison.

10. Realize that every day is not going to be perfect

We fall down and we get back up, kids. Life is not perfect, and it will never be perfect. I struggle with accepting this sometimes, especially when it looks like my life is in order except for that one thing that I want badly, which changes depending on the time in my life. I am learning that sometimes our lives will be like an almost-completed puzzle that is just missing that one piece. Rather than trying to squeeze in some random piece that doesn’t even fit, I am trying to just let the puzzle be.