In high school, I was as judgmental as most high school kids are, and I did many things I would not dare to do today. When I went to college, I still had a lot of the baggage I carried with me throughout high-school, but I chanced upon meditation, and a few experiences that helped me get a better sense of self-awareness and what a better of version of myself would look like.
Time has been flying by lately, and as I get to meet old friends, I notice much change, or the lack thereof. Personally, change has been seemingly constant in my life, and I embrace it as necessary for my own growth. I remember in college, I read from the famous philosopher Alan Watts, talking about the flaw with personal development. He stated, “The flaw with personal development is thinking you need improvement at all.” I’m not sure entirely what he meant by this, but back then, it sounded like a convincing excuse to be content with who you are and not try to change. I see it in a different light now. To be content with who I am, but to know there is more potential to be reached. To be happy with myself, but always strive for better.
The biggest transformation area for me is to stop caring what other people think. I’m catching myself more and more now, and notice when other friends are also so caught up in this. I’m not the type of person to force change on someone, so I probably won’t remark on it, but I use these moments to reflect and use as examples for what not to be. Even now, I’m at a cafe with my back against the entire area, and I think about how weird it might be for a stranger to see me typing this, but it’s necessary friction.
Another one is unrelenting optimism. I reason by telling myself I’m a “realist,” but I recognize that if I want to reach the goals I set out for myself, I need to train and practice optimism and gratitude.
I attribute a lot of these blockages to how I was raised. I don’t claim that I had a rough childhood, in fact compared to most of the world, I had an extremely privileged upbringing, but I can only speak to my example. My Korean parents emigrated from Korea to provide a better living than they had, and I don’t doubt this was the result that happened. Still, coming from a culture where feelings aren’t generally shared, and you rarely speak your mind, I was exposed to a different subset of problems. I’m learning all these things now, at 25, but am grateful that I am at least paying attention now, rather than later.
For a long time, I was told what I should be or do. Even now, there are societal pressures, and I have a strong feeling that most of the world and my peers do things because someone else told them this was the right thing to do. I’m fortunate enough to have found online mentors like Gary Vee and Jordan Peterson, who helped me to better think for myself, and figure out what it is I want to do. I do consider myself privileged, so I need to make the most of my experience for myself, but also for others to see that you can pursue your wants and dreams and make it all work out. I will be another one of the success stories.