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I didn’t choose who I wanted to be

What is it like to live a life that was designed for someone else? Learn how to break free of those filters and standards to become more... you.

Ale Torres
July 23, 2020
I didn’t choose who I wanted to be | Fuckup Nights

Crisis tends to bring out the worst in us. This is something I learned the hard  way. I’m a Taurus and a Regia (the name they give to a person from the very north of México) and I recently discovered that the reason I’ve had a  problem with numbers and writing my whole life, is  because I’m dyslexic.

Why am I introducing myself like this? You’ll get it later.

I spent the first 27 years of my life in a bubble, measuring happiness according to society’s standards.

As a Regia woman, since childhood  I’ve  connected success with being married before I turn 30, having at least 2 children and a flawless body. Typical Taurus, I’m a drama queen, and every aspect of my life has to be in perfect order (now you can tell where I’m going with this.)

When I turned 28, I got  to experience a global pandemic, and to be locked at home for months. Although I tried to keep  everything under control, nothing went as expected:

During these months, I realized that I’d spent my life trying to be someone society wanted me to be, instead of just being who I wanted to be

Worst of all, is that I was unhappy, because I wasn’t meeting  the expectations.

By the measure you use, it will be measured back to you

In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson Talks about the importance we give to social standards and how we use them to measure and evaluate ourselves. He also shared Dave Mustaine’s story:

After being fired from Metallica in the early 80’s, Dave made an effort  to excel and beat them in every aspect. And although he went on to be  considered one of the most brilliant musicians of all time, selling  more than 25 million albums and selling out world tours with  Megadeth, he always regarded himself as that loser musician who was kicked out of  Metallica.

As humans, we see ourselves  as superior beings while in reality we’re  nothing more than  apes. We’re apes comparing and measuring ourselves against each other  and aspiring  to live a life of status. Realizing this was a mind blowing experience for me, even more so after I asked myself:

Which standards am I using to measure myself?

My grandma used to say “By the measure you use, it will be measured back to you”. This turned out to be  a quote  from the Bible, meaning  have mercy and compassion for  others, the basic principles of empathy. To comprehend and understand others in order to be treated the same way.

Ironically, I work for Fuckup Nights, as community  leader and Mexico City organizer. I’m constantly exposed to the most  amazing failure and resilience stories. That’s when I told myself “okay… I (at least more than the average human) understand that we all fail, we all make mistakes, but… Am I measuring myself with that perspective? Am I being empathic towards  myself?

The answer is No.

The truth is that I’m too hard on  myself, worst still, I tend to hide that feeling by lying to myself. I look in the mirror and see something that I don’t want to, for others I’m a happy face full of self-confidence. And that extends to the social media world.

Under which filters you’re living?

We all have standards in our lives, I call them filters. Imagine your Instagram account, in some posts you’re an influencer with butterflies on your face, in others you ask yourself  “Which taco am I?”

But, why not dare  to take that selfie without filters? Because it’s scary. Seeing ourselves in raw reality is intimidating. The back rolls, pimples, that messy hair. NO THANKS! Better reapply  those filters, please.

“Stop thinking you’re doing it all wrong. Your path doesn’t look like anybody else’s because it can’t, it shouldn’t, and it won’t.”

- Eleanor Brownn

Well, that’s how real life works. The moment we remove those filters, start living a life without them and show ourselves as we are, we are choosing  to be authentic with ourselves. Automatically, we’ll start to feel happier as we are being true to what we are, every day.

I won’t tell you in this blog how to live a life without filters, but I invite you to identify which one you’ve installed (or had installed) in that important app called life. Coping with them isn’t easy, but it’s a satisfying experience.

How to identify filters?

According to Mark Mason, these are some ways to identify them:

1. Reconsider your values: Pleasure, material success, always being right and even being overly positive are dead end paths. Why shouldn’t you be overly positive, for example? Because that’s  not what reality is about. Life sucks sometimes, and it’s ok to admit it.

If we instead focus on the values which are based on reality, are socially constructive, immediate and controllable, like: vulnerability, creativity and self-respect, this can lead to a more complete happiness.

2. Analyze your ideals: If your social media channels are full of trashy influencers that don’t share the same values as you, you should consider getting rid of those examples and try to follow more inspiring people.

3. Prioritize the things that matter: When we choose better values, we automatically start to focus on the things that matter to us, that can lead to a better place, to the things that can actually bring joy and can improve your mood.

4. Accept your responsibility: There’s more self-realization in facing our deep problems rather than avoiding them. Recognizing that we live in ignorance can inspire us to question our beliefs and discover our own flaws and mistakes in order to improve them.

5. Discover the ability of listening and saying NO: By doing this you’ll be able to easily accept and avoid things in your life.

Mason (I really love his book) shared those tips to learn how to prioritize our values and to start choosing the ones we really need to live a better life. You’ll still have problems, but those will be “enhanced” problems, and a better life.

“If you want to change the way you perceive your problems, you need to modify what you value, and how you measure success and failure.” - Mark Manson

Re-think your values and don’t be afraid of questioning and changing  them if they’re not really aligned with you.

At  28, I’m not married, have no children, and a messy life. When I realized that I can’t count further than 1000 because I get really stressed, I started to focus on completely  writing and math exercises (as if I were back to elementary school) and I’m not ashamed of admitting it.

I must say that it’s still difficult for me to re-establish my values, but the process is the best gift I could ever give myself, to accept that I’m just human, someone that fails and learns from her mistakes.

Yes, crisis can bring out the worst in us, but sometimes it can be a cathartic experience that helps us to realize that things have got to change.

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I didn’t choose who I wanted to be


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