Just today I went through some of the notes that I wrote when I was younger (not that much younger, just a few years really, I didn't mean to make it sound so dramatic). I have a tag in my notes app (where I'm writing this) called 'thoughts', and there are thoughts there that go back to 2012. Well, only one actually, and it's a mildly cringey list of my favourite albums at the time. Not so much the list itself is cringey, but rather the things I wrote next to my choices. Let's just say there's an abundant use of the word 'epic' at play.

In any case, the albums list is not that interesting. What's more interesting to me is the personal notes I wrote. The next oldest one, from 2015, states that "for the first time in my life", I'm curious where my life is headed. Damn dude, the first time? That's actually a bit sad. There's one filled with paranoid relationship-related rambles which is even more painful. And then there's one where I describe how I feel about myself. There, I write that I feel like I'm an insignificant human being, that I can't make or write anything original, that nothing that I've done defines me, and that everyone is ahead of me. It's really quite a sad and anxious note. And reading it now, I remember that that's how I really felt. I wasn't a sad person on the whole, but I was somewhat negative about my own life and my personal development. The weird thing is, I might not have it remembered it like that if I didn't have this note. It's not that any of it is particularly surprising when I think about it. It's just that this note is a powerful reminder of my past state of mind. You tend not to notice your own state of mind much, just like fish tend not to notice the water around them. And when it gradually changes over the course of years, it's not something that you immediately pick up on. Notes like this one have the jarring effect of reminding you of how you once felt, without noticing it. And that you changed over the past four years, without noticing it.

I also can say quite certainly that the things I wrote are still true, to an extent. They haven't changed nearly as much as the way I think about them. I can honestly say that I feel better now than I did when I wrote that note. And I'm pretty sure that it's mostly related to how I react to the world around me, not so much the world itself. The way you talk to yourself really matters. The way you react to your own emotions and thoughts really matters. Being aware of your and other people's emotions and moods really matters. Being a kind and loving human being really matters. Compared to that, what I write or make or 'achieve' is insignificant. The change I can make in the lives of myself and others is what truly counts. And that sounds very sappy, but I stand behind it.

Having read my note, I'm thankful to feel more stable and grounded now. It's something that I will try not to take for granted. If I go through something similar later in my life, hopefully I'll remember the ups and downs that I've already been through. And I hope that other people who feel stuck or lost, find the power in themselves to look at themselves with love and kindness.

You'll only receive email when Teun publishes a new post

More from Teun