One of the most important and life-changing habits I’ve learned in my 20s is to ask myself first, before seeking advice from others. This goes for all types of decisions, from what clothes to buy, to whether I should stay in a relationship or not, to what careers to pursue. I always start by asking myself first: “What do I think about this? What do I want? How do I feel about it?”. It’s also the most important thing I’d advise you to start doing if you haven’t already.
After asking ourselves, if we still need advice, we can go and seek input from someone else. But it’s so important to know that no one else can know us better than ourselves. No one else can possibly know all of your thoughts, wants, and dreams, even if you talk to them every day or have known them your entire life. And even if they did know, would you really want someone else to dictate your life?
Practicing listening to yourself is especially important if you’re seeking self-discovery and personal development. How will you ever be able to discover who you really are, and how to live authentically, if you don’t first learn to trust yourself. Living authentically comes from knowing yourself, being in-tuned with your intuition, and trusting that.
Why did we start asking others for all the answers?
Growing up, it was common to hear me, my sister, and my female friends ask for advice first before making up their own minds first. “Should I buy this shirt? Do you think I should choose this or that? Do I look good in this?”.
Partly, I’m sure it’s a learned behavior from childhood when we used to ask our parents and elders for advice. Growing up, adults had the answers to everything. But now when becoming adults ourselves, we must learn that others may not at all know much more than we do.
Interestingly, I’ve also read studies that indicate that females ask these types of questions more than their male counterparts do. Females seek advice from their friends more, even from young ages, while young boys are more prone to coming up with their own conclusions. Some argue that this is evolutionary/biological, the way females socialize and make friends. But I’d also wager that it’s cultural and a form of sexist oppression. Girls are treated from a younger age as if they cannot make the best decisions themselves. It’s a prevalent prejudice I’ve heard in conversations “men should be bosses and make decisions because women are too emotional and weak” (often said by men). So even for the sake of feminism, I’d urge young women to start learning how to trust their own decision-making skills.
Fun fact: Other interesting studies show that young adults from certain cultures, such as those that are more collective (e.g. Japan) than individual (e.g. America), feel better having their decisions made for them. Some cultures believe that collective decisions are better than individually-taken ones (e.g. it’s better than the entire family decides what their son will choose as a career). This logically could also result in that parents from such cultures don’t teach their children how to think for themselves, but instead, just follow what’s being told. It could explain why many young adults with Asian backgrounds feel more forced to choose careers based not on what they are passionate about, but based on what their parents want from them.
In conclusion, to become a self-confident person who lives authentically, practice making your own decisions about your life. Seek advice and knowledge from others when needed, but don’t’ let other people decide your life. You only get this one chance of living, so live it as you, yourself, personally want.