Usually just before Christmas every year, I have an epic clear out, overturning every nook and cranny in my room. Things that I don’t need but couldn’t possibly part with are put away into loft storage and others that bare no significance at all anymore, are simply tossed. As I was emptying one of my drawers on this clear-out-mission, I came across an old notepad that I couldn’t even remember owning. I opened it up to see a few notes from an English Literature A level class on ‘Frankenstein‘ and sifted through before realising there were some notes also in the back. There was a title…(very untidily underlined might I add)
Tips to be successful in 2013/14
**This was my final year in sixth form, the year of my A-Levels and also the time of ucas, personal statement writing and University choices.
Below, it read…
- Never think you have it too hard
- Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no
- Self-pity and wallowing are never the solutions to any problem
- It’s scary to take steps, but nobody ever got anywhere from standing still
- Don’t compare yourself to others and the progress they’re making. Everybody works in their own timezone
And then underneath I’d drawn a lot of very bad doodles, the basic ones you’d find in a 17 year old’s workbook – hearts, stars, flowers…oh and a couple of rushed penis drawings dotted around the corners with various arrows and labels that connected them with boys in our year…..I’m pretty sure I know which of my friends was the phallic-image graffiti culprit BUT that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, getting back on to the topic at hand – now I don’t know whether this small list was the result of a random rush of personal inspiration, an introductory exercise that a teacher had asked us to do before diving into the lesson or perhaps something else? However, I do know that when I discovered it at the bottom of my chest the other day, I was quite shocked at the value and significance it possessed for me at this point in my life.
We all like to feel sorry for ourselves at times, don’t we? Despite the privileges we enjoy, many of us still love a good, old wallow (Eeyore style) about how hard we have it with exams and uni and stress and work and relationship troubles and family commitments and friend dramas and financial worries and…..you get it, right?
But gosh, so help that person who calls us out on it! I remember once my mum noting how she thought I was wallowing in self-pity and that I needed to “get a grip because nobody else is going to sort it for you“. I was absolutely seething at first. ‘How dare she tell me I’m feeling sorry for myself,’ I thought.
As in the majority of cases though, Mum was right and if I’d only had my little 2013/14 list handy, that would have been apparent as soon as she said it. It’s really easy to fall into that pit of self-pity and when we do, we stand still and alone. We stop moving and lose sight of our goals because we’re so bitter about how unfair everything is.
After returning to Durham to complete my degree after a year out, many of my friends have graduated and are now working. I’ve truthfully found it hard to settle back into student life, with my first few weeks of term feeling like a massive step backwards following a year of interning and travelling. I’m looking at many of my friends pursuing their careers and jet-setting across the globe willing it to be my turn…What have I been doing? – comparing. Jennifer Lawrence had received 4 award-nominations in the space of 6 years at just 25 whilst Alan Rickman hadn’t even started RADA at this age. He was 46 when he landed his first major on-screen role in Die Hard, yet he is still globally recognised as one of the most talented actors in the world. See! We cannot possibly compare our lives to others and measure success in this way. New York is 1pm, while London is 6pm…does that mean one is wrong? No. Just like the world, everybody is on their own time-zone because we all have individual journeys and paths. Again – 17 year old Becky was onto something.
I find it incredible that moments before I quickly disposed of an old, seemingly worthless book, I rediscovered (in less than 50 words) a key mindset to pave my way in life towards being successful and happy. It turns out that the list is probably more valuable to me now, at this stage in life, than it would ever have been back in 2013.
So, feel free to use some of these pointers for your own list- if not, I suggest maybe having a bedroom clearout? You never know what treasures you might end up discovering…