I’ve been dealing with a lot of difficult social stuff in the last several months. Interpersonal communications have been a real struggle in both personal and professional realms, and it has been very hard to keep my spirits high.
Lost or phased-out friendships, friends moving far away, difficult work situations, jealousy, pettiness, bullying; I’ve been trying to handle it all at some point lately. And for someone like me (ie. highly sensitive, introverted, anxious, conflict-averse), it’s been so hard not to carry the hurts around with me as I go about just trying to figure out my daily life.
I’ve always wanted to write a personal manifesto. I’ve even mentioned it on this blog, ages ago, but never really did anything with the idea. Until now.
I think the idea of a manifesto is a wonderful thing, but I also think it has to be fluid and changeable. As you grow older, your manifesto should grow and mature with you. I think part of the reason I shied away from writing one a year or so ago was that I felt that it needed to be permanent.
Nothing makes you less likely to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) than the idea that THIS THING THAT I AM WRITING IS PERMANENT AND MY IDEAS WILL HAVE TO STAY THE SAME FOR ALL OF TIME OR I HAVE FAILED IN MY MANIFESTO-LINESS.
Yeah, I just made up the word “manifesto-liness”. I’m awesome like that.
SO. Anyway. Here are the current contents of my personal manifesto:
1. Kindness is key
Kindness will never NOT be awesome, and I’ve found that in 99.9% of personal dealings with human beings, a little bit of kindness goes a long way. Even when people are mean, shitty, and otherwise disagreeable, I try very hard to be kind. Kill them with kindness is so much more effective, in my opinion, than Wait until they’re not looking and STAB THEM IN THE BACK!
I’m definitely a fallible human with lots of problematic traits, but I do think my overwhelming urge to be kind and give a shit is one of my better qualities. And I definitely think it’s one worth nurturing and paying better attention to in the future.
2. Try to leave the people, places, and things you come into contact with in better condition than when you found them
I’m borrowing this one from one of my favorite bloggers, Alexandra Franzen, but I don’t think she’ll mind–she’s a huge advocate of love and kindness in all things. I think we’ve all heard some version of this phrase in the past, probably as kids when you were supposed to be cleaning something, like your cubby or locker. Leave it in better condition than you found it.
However, I think this is a great idea to apply to all things in life. For example, your treatment of the Earth, the condition in which you keep your apartment, your interactions with most people, and whether or not you’re littering can all be improved upon. It’s an admirable goal to try to leave things–and especially people–in better condition than you found them. I know I want to positively impact people’s live and just make them happier in general. I think that’s a worthy goal.
3. Take time to play & create something everyday
I’m a highly imaginative day-dreamer, and that part of my personality tends to get bogged down and neglected when I get overworked and anxious and busy in my professional and personal life. But here’s the thing: I always feel so much happier and less stressed when I’m doing creative things. I need an outlet. And neglecting my creative urges creates a cycle where I feel down because I’m not creating/playing, and because I feel down, I don’t create. Or play.
It’s weird to be learning at 26 that taking care of your personal needs makes you a better person overall. The idea is sort of counterintuitive and feels selfish to me, but when I when I take care of my needs and make myself happy, I have a much better version of myself to offer the world.
Besides, what’s the point of life if you’re not creating or playing, anyway?
4. Exercise will ALWAYS make you feel better. Even if you feel shitty and tired when you’re exercising.
I’d say about 80% of the work outs I do are done begrudgingly. I have gone on many a run with gritted teeth and had to repeat to myself “I love running. This is totally fun. I don’t hate this AT ALL.”
But at the end of the exercise, I ALWAYS feel better. Every. Damn. Time.
So I just have to keep reminding myself that if I put in 30 minutes of physical work, I WILL feel better afterwards. Exercise can make a world of a difference to your mood.
5. Always wash your hands thoroughly after feeding wild monkeys
This one time I spent several hours feeding plantains to wild monkeys and I guess I didn’t wash my hands well enough afterwards, because I wound up with salmonella and it was HORRIBLE. I literally had to stop eating so I could survive the flight from Costa Rica to Chicago without running to the bathroom every 5 minutes.
NEVER AGAIN. Wash your hands, people.
6. Be free with your praise for others (as long as its genuine)
Giving someone mad props is never a bad thing. I’m a HUGE advocate of praising people if they do good stuff, are awesome, have a great haircut, etc. However, you do need to be mindful of your praise. Praising someone for sycophantic reasons is not the goal. Neither is telling your female coworker how “smokin’ hot” she is. I’m talking about real, honest compliments of a non-sexual and non-creepy nature.
Pile on the praise! It almost never hurts, and it can really make someone’s day.
7. Be present & try to worry less
Guys. I struggle SO HARD with this one. Like, Magikarp hard.
When I’m freaked out and anxious, I tend to get a kind of “What’s next?” tunnel vision. I think it’s the curse of an event planner, to always be thinking two weeks or two months or two steps ahead. And because of this, I have a difficult time enjoying the now. It drives my boyfriend nuts.
But when I do have the wherewithal to let the stress go for a minute and have fun in the present, it’s like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. So mostly, I’m putting this in my manifesto as an attempt to remind myself how much better I feel when I calm down and focus on the now.
8. This song is the BEST and is my favorite dance anthem of all time.
9. Don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic about the shit you love
The main goal of my ongoing Year of Unabashed Nerdy-ness is to be unapologetic about my super-geeky interests. I think, as kids, we sort of learn to keep our interests under wraps if they aren’t mainstream, well-known, or well-understood. I can remember my elementary school self keeping mum on her love of video games and other things that weren’t popular, in order to avoid being mercilessly teased. (Although that really didn’t stop the teasing, anyway.)
If you go through the majority of your life keeping quiet about your interests, it can feel really REALLY strange to start being publicly enthusiastic about the things you love. But don’t let that strangeness stop you!
In my quest to be more outwardly nerdy, I’ve discovered that sporting your nerd gear in public will help you meet people and possibly make new friends. I can’t tell you how many people have used my Pokeball earrings as an icebreaker just to jump into a Pokemon conversation. Being geeky publicly is a great way to meet other geeks–whether they’re hiding or not.
Plus, being a nerd is awesome.
Suck it, bullies!
10. You can’t win everyone’s appreciation, support, or love. Try to be satisfied with doing the absolute best you can do.
I’ve never mastered this one. It’s my constant, ongoing goal to eventually come to grips with the fact that I will never be everyone’s friend. (Yeah, I’m that girl. The really eager to please one. It’s just a 26-year-long phase, I swear.)
I struggle in social situations because I want people to like me, I want people to appreciate my work, and I want people to return my kindness with kindness. But life doesn’t work like that. Trying to get people to be my friend has led me into a lot of fair weather friendships where I am the provider of rides, the comforting shoulder, or the listening ear, and the other person can’t be bothered to return the favor.
You can never please everyone. So I’m trying to focus less on what other people appreciate and more one whether or not I’m satisfied with doing my best. Feels pretty good.
So, there you have it. My (current, potentially subject-to-change) manifesto. So what do you think? Have you ever written a manifest of your own? Would you ever want to?
Let me know in the comments.
(Photo Credit: William Shannon)