1. Opening Twitter or Instagram and looking up that one person you used to be infatuated with — an ex, your friend from college you always wished was more, a longtime crush from the internet — and clicking out of the window within 20 seconds, because their life is now so boring to you. Gradually leaving behind the habit of typing their username into your search bar on autopilot. Realizing one day that you have no idea how long it’s been since you last “checked in” on their life, and noticing how freeing that feels.
2. Automatically skipping out on certain unhealthy choices because you know they aren’t worth it to you. Saying “no thanks” to the treat (or, let’s be real, drink) you know you don’t actually want, but would have previously felt socially pressured into taking. Eventually realizing you’ve been drinking and eating fewer things you don’t actually enjoy all that much, or that you know make you feel bad, because you understand that emotionally empty calories are the only truly pointless ones.
3. But still ordering whatever the hell you want at a restaurant without first needing to think about whether or not you’ve “been good this week.”
4. Not being even the least bit tempted to spend money at certain clothing stores. Learning, over time, that their clothes aren’t “flattering” on your body without needing to put yourself through the torture and tedium of seeing if maybe just this once they have something that works. Understanding it’s not that you don’t fit the clothes — it’s that they just don’t serve you, or make you feel like your loveliest self, so you don’t even bother.
5. Feeling glad that your partner and your best friend (or your two best friends, or your siblings) can hang out on their own without you. Knowing their closeness doesn’t threaten your own closeness with either of them, and that their budding friendship is worth tending to. Best of all, giving yourself blissful solo nights in when they are off playing Super Smash Brothers, knowing they can fulfill their love of video games without you needing to feign interest in them ever again.
6. Approaching dates with as carefree an attitude as possible for you (because let’s face it — some of us will never be totally carefree). Saying either “yes” or “no” to as many dates as you actually want — and asking out people whenever you want. Feeling okay if it doesn’t go that well, because you still get to go home to yourself.
7. Putting exactly as much time as you want into getting ready, for both weekday mornings and big nights out — no more time, no less time. Knowing that only you know the exact amount of time you need to spend in front of a mirror to feel like your best self (and maybe just because it’s fun). Being unaffected by other people’s comments on how you spend either too much or not enough time on yourself because only you know what works best for you.
8. Reading more. Realizing the canon of books everyone “should” read was pretty much decided by a homogenous group of people that likely don’t look like you or have the life experiences you’ve had. Learning that the problem wasn’t that you were a bad reader — the problem was what you were spending your time reading books you didn’t even enjoy (or trying to, before giving up, because they were tired and boring). Getting to the point where you only make time for the kinds of books you actually love.
9. Seeing someone you know with something a past version of yourself would have been envious of — a humongous house, or a $1,000 handbag, or a photo on the roof of that beautiful, trendy bar filled with beautiful people — and feeling nothing. Realizing you know yourself well enough that you would never trade your exciting city life for the suburb with the huge houses, or your comfortable small-town home life for nights with strangers at places that just make you spend more money than you wanted to.
10. Making more meaningful changes in your life, simply because you started reacting differently to times when you do feel a pang of envy over something you can control. Thinking Let me figure out how I can get that for myself instead of Wow, I wish I had that. Knowing you don’t have to wait for someone else to give you permission to take those dance classes, start saving for that solo backpacking trip, or work on a personal side project just for because you can.
11. Being less afraid to take the dance classes — or try pottery, or learn to code, or teach yourself the ukelele, or learn a language, or start expanding your interests and skills in any other little way, because you know that it really, really doesn’t matter if you end up sucking.
12. Knowing that the end goal of trying something new doesn’t have to be becoming the best at it. Finding yourself less concerned with being “the best,” generally. Knowing that who you are is enough, regardless of whether or not you’re a C-suite executive, an Oscar winner, a published author. Because the best is subjective, and you can build a happy life and career without striving for some unattainable external validation. And because sometimes, it’s just fun to try.
Holly is the Executive Editor of here, or send her your ideas at holly@ !. Follow her on Twitter
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