I Set Myself A Deadline and Here’s How It’s Going So Far
In this open column submission, Calvinia Cristovalin talks about discovering the best version of ourselves and the pursuit of self-improvement.
Words by Whiteboard Journal
Deadlines – we all have them. Whether for our school assignments and essays and when they should be submitted at the latest or the ones our supervisor gives us on the first day of work and keep pestering us about. There is even a deadline for human body’s growth. Our height stop growing at a certain time of our lives and on average, humans would have a complete set of 32 permanent teeth by the age of about 21. Supposedly, we can call those as deadlines for our bodies.
I have always known that there is a period of time where I would struggle yet still grow significantly, both physically and mentally. When that time is over, I thought I would come out of my shell ready to face the world, all while knowing what I want to be and be deeply rooted in my values. Nothing would be able to make me question myself again; especially not my insecurities as, by then, I would have learned to accept them. I wouldn’t encounter battles with myself anymore because I would have completely understand myself. All of this sounded really great and convincing to me. It was something I needed to calm my worries about the upcoming future.
I was 16 when I had that expectation in the back of my mind. Soon, I would be big enough to understand myself and the whole world. After all, that’s what the coming-of-age movies showed me. That feeling when you are on top of the world as you reach the peek of teenage hood; or – that High School Musical life and Troy-and-Gabriella romance we’ve secretly dreamed of. But of course, none of those happened in my account.
Unconsciously, I started to set myself a deadline. A ridiculous one regarding knowing myself in and out. When I was 18, I convinced myself that I would have me figured out by the time I reached 20. Can’t wait to be 20! I thought I would no longer be confused of who I am, what I like, and what I want to pursue in life. Adults seemed to know what they’re doing, they must have had themselves figured out too, right?
Surprise, surprise. I have now past 20. Still, every now and then my mind wanders over the question, “Who am I? What am I gonna do in life?” and the inner battle I have in my head when I hear someone say, “Don’t let your flaws and past define your future!”
Frankly speaking, I have failed my own deadline. Being almost 22, I realized I am still carrying the insecurities that I have had since middle school with me. I haven’t fully come into terms with myself. I am constantly doubting the choices I make every day. My expectations are failing me given the face that I have not become the best version of myself. The thought of embracing the self-loving, fully-improved me keeps getting further away because I keep meeting new struggles every day that I can’t seem to handle yet.
When pondering over this, I have realized and accept that discovering the best version of oneself is a life-long process. Unlike the short deadlines that school assigns, self-improvement doesn’t finalize in about 22 years of living (you’re barely starting your own life at 20!). Let alone a year, a month, or a night. Self-improvement acknowledges no deadline. While we are breathing, we will meet different situations every day that might put us in an uncomfortable spot with ourselves and the people around us. Yet these struggles are ones that bring those hidden capabilities within ourselves to our notice.
The point of this writing is not to let anyone down. If you have set a deadline for yourself, you will always have the chance to make it happen. But, if you are going through the same thing as I am, you are not alone. The insecurities that keep tailing you throughout these years, the heartbreaks, the emotional traumas you haven’t been able to resolve. I believe it’s a part of living – and therefore it’s okay. We will be able to forgive and accept as we grow because eventually we will see that these things do nothing but hold us back.
Screw deadlines. Clearly, one does not outrun life. And just because we are getting older and having more experiences don’t mean that life will go easier. It will go just like it always has been for everyone. A challenge. Life is always a challenge to any human beings, at any age.
We all long for that time where we would be in a peaceful term with ourselves. Yet, sometimes, we stop working on ourselves and hope for some sort of miracle to magically end the struggles. We like to think that we are smart yet we make the same mistakes multiple times. But for instance, look at babies. They constantly try to stand back up again whenever they fall, pushing themselves up to the point where they are able to walk and miraculously begin their journey as functioning humans.
That is the thing – we have to keep on going and strive to be better. Now I learn to find comfort in smaller changes and constant growth. After all, it is an ongoing process throughout life that we cannot escape.