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How to be Someone You’re Proud Of

When I was growing up, I had an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote printed out and taped on my wall, and it read “I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” I skimmed over these words thousands of times as I went to high school. I think about those words now more than I did then.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a terrible person. The worst part about me is that sometimes I’m not much of a person at all. And, I’m not the only one. Most people I know just go through days waking up, checking off their to-do lists, and going back to bed. A couple nights out here. A weekend trip there. But, mostly, just a lot of rerun episodes and wishing that we were all still living those exciting moments.

Try to make a cognizant effort to appreciate the little things.

Alright alright, I know “appreciate the little things” sounds like something you would read on a soccer mom’s decorative couch pillow, but that doesn’t mean it should be completely ignored. I mean actually try to appreciate the small stuff in your day. For example, I try to steal away a couple minutes to sit in the sun when the weather is amazing.

Create more of those exciting moments. 

The first thing you’re probably doing is rolling your eyes and brushing this off, saying “it’s not that easy.” But answer me this: is it really that hard? I’m not telling you to relive your summer Cabo trip because hey, I get it, you work and money doesn’t grow on trees. But relive those smaller exciting moments: spend more time with friends, try out some new stuff, and take some moments for yourself. These all don’t need to cost money or take a lot of time, but can simply replace those Netflix binge nights.

Put effort into doing things you actually like doing.

We may not all love our jobs or going to school, but everyone has to like something. If you like to paint, leave yourself a couple hours a week to paint. If you like to workout, make a workout plan and enjoy it. You want to travel? Pick up a few extra shifts and save up. Make a plan to make a change for the life you want.

Be honest with yourself.

What are you doing that makes you not proud of the person you are? This can be a tough one. Do you procrastinate until you are unable to be as academically successful as you would like? Do you let your issues hurt your significant other? Are you treating the people in your life the way you should be treating them?

Leave behind the “I wish” for the “I can.”

It’s so easy to say “I wish that I could travel again,” “I wish I had the money” or “I wish that my grades were better.” You get mad at yourself for not having all of the things you are wishing for, but are you really putting in the work? Work more hours at your job and save the money to travel, cut a couple silly expenses and make a budget to save up, or put in some serious hours at the library. Try to make those Netflix rerun hours into at least slightly productive hours. The small adjustments make the difference.

You become someone you are proud of when you put in the work, time and effort to be that person. As Kaci Diane said, “I love the person I have become, because I have fought to become her.” Now, get to work.

Maddie is a recently graduated English major and is excited to enter the publishing industry.
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