Decade in Review
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Decade in Review | #13 & #14

Over two weeks, I’ll share my biggest takeaways and lessons learned from this decade. Listen via the Simplecast players below or via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, and more. Find links to all the apps here.

If you like listening to the audio on video, you can also watch via my YouTube channel, or just read the transcript for the episode, too (you’ll find it at the bottom of the page; there are separate transcripts for each episode).

After you listen, join our community by commenting on the podcast below and let me know: What have you learned about yourself over the last ten years?

In Part 1, you’ll learn:

  • Part 1 of my decade in review (2010-2014)
  • The story of the stranger on the train who helped me without realizing it
  • How I began to learn to believe in myself even when those around me didn’t
  • The painful truth behind every decision I made

In Part 2, you’ll learn:

  • Part 2 of my decade in review (2015-2019)
  • How I began to turn my writing into a career
  • How I recognized my depression triggers
  • Being proud of yourself vs being conceited
  • 2010 me vs 2019 me
  • The biggest takeaway from the past ten years

*Emotional trigger warning for both episodes* – there will be discussion of depression.

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist, or a licensed or professional counselor, or anything like that. Please check out this list of resources if you need help, many of which are available 24/7, from Healthline (these and more resources are available here: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/suicide-resource-guide#1)

If you haven’t had a chance to enroll in my FREE writing challenge yet, you can do so below. I share all the tips and techniques that help me write 3-4 books per year while writing mostly on weekends.

Happy Listening!


P.S. – You can also join our podcast community on Facebook and support the podcast (and me!) on Patreon


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****TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE #13 (PART 1, 2010-2014)*****

[00:00:00] Yes, it’s another decade in review podcast episode. Actually, not just one, but two episodes as my decade was so big, at least to me, that I split up my review across this and the next episode. If you’d like to hear how my decade went, and the biggest life and personal lessons I learned that could help you, too, then please keep listening.

[00:00:19] You may write alone, but you are not alone. Inside the Writer’s Soul focuses on how personal experiences can inform your writing and help you speak from the soul to really connect with readers and other authors as well. Your writer’s soul doesn’t need to take the writing and publishing journey alone. Join me, your host M. Khan, and let’s move forward together.

[00:00:43] Hello and welcome! Even though this should be a decade in review, meaning 2010 to 2019, I’m going to step back a little bit to 2009 because that was a big fucking year for me as I had a lot of life changes. I broke off an engagement and I moved from where I’d basically grown up to where I live now, which is in the Washington, D.C. metro area. So there was a lot of big life events for me, and I think those set in motion the changes and the challenges that I faced over the next decade. So I just wanted to preface my decade in review and mention those.

[00:01:18] I also wanted to note that I am going to put a trigger warning on this episode because I will be talking about some pretty serious topics, including depression and other things, so just be aware of that if you continue listening.

[00:01:29] So we’ll now go to 2010. This was the year I finally moved into my own apartment. When I first moved to the D.C. area, I actually had a roommate. But when our lease was up in 2010, we decided we each wanted a little bit of a different place and we needed different things so I ended up finding my own place for the first time in my life. I lived at home through college and grad school, so this was a really big deal for me. And this was the first apartment and the first place I had on my own. It was a little studio. I definitely could not afford it. But so many amazing and awful and wonderful things happened to me over the seven years I lived there.

[00:02:07] I learned a lot of different things in 2010, and one of the most important was just who in my life was really there to help me and back me up when I needed it. As I reached the end of the lease I had with my roommate with less than a week to go, I still had not found a place. Can you imagine the stress of that? I still didn’t know where I was moving to or where I was going to live, and I had to move within a week. I got to the point where I just had four days left on my lease and I still had not found a place.

[00:02:37] I was praying really hard one night and I finally decided, you know what, I just have to let this go. Not let go of searching for a place, but just let go of all of the stress and the worry and anxiety that I won’t find a place. If I keep thinking that I won’t find a place, then I won’t find one. So I literally let that go. I took a deep breath. I prayed on it. I meditated on it. And the next day is when I saw an ad on Craigslist for an apartment, and that apartment actually ended up being a fantastic thing for me cost-wise. It was still more than I could afford, but it included parking and all utilities, so I was basically only paying for rent and then my Internet bill. And for someone who was living on, you know, thirty thousand or less a year in the D.C. area, which is an incredibly expensive area to live in, it was really one of the best places I could have found.

[00:03:30] The day I saw the ad for it, I left work early to go look at it and right then and there, I signed up for it. There were issues navigating the lease process, which ended up taking a couple of days. And it was after that when I basically had just a weekend to move in. I hired movers just to move my bed and my bookshelf, which were the only two things that wouldn’t fit in my car and I moved everything else myself. Fortunately, I did not have a lot of things because most of the furniture had actually been my roommate’s, which made things easier. But it was still a lot to do just over a weekend at the very last minute with a small car, which is what I have.

[00:04:06] All of this, by the way, was going on during Ramadan and I moved all my shit while fasting. I just casually mentioned this to a friend at work because yes, I still had to work over the weekend that I moved and she offered to help me without my even asking for it. Actually, I didn’t even think to ask for it because I was so used to people not helping me when I needed it. So I learned who was really there to help me out and who wasn’t.

[00:04:30] That year I was also working three jobs at one point during this year, and I was just so fucking exhausted by everything. I remember there was one time I was on the metro going from one job to another and just so tired that I was leaning against the wall of the train, trying to get even the smallest amount of rest I could before I had to find the energy to work my other job that day. And this man looked at me in this very crowded train with a very concerned gaze, and asked me if I was okay. And I was so tired that I couldn’t even speak, but I nodded to give him the generic response, even though I was not okay. And then he said, “It’s hard when you have a lot of responsibility, isn’t it?” And I nodded again. To this day, I wish I could have said something to him. I wish I could have let him know that this one act of kindness was the most I’d been shown in months, and I still remember it so clearly so many years later. Thank you, stranger on the Metro for recognizing someone who isn’t doing okay and reaching out to them. I wish I could find you and give you a hug and say thank you.

[00:05:35] So now we move to 2011. In 2011 I got another degree, this is number four, and I again learned who was there to help me and who wasn’t because no one in my family turned up to my graduation, not even the ones who lived in the area. I had only one friend in town who ended up coming, and I’m so grateful to her for it. But this was an incredibly disheartening experience for me because I had just spent a year working really hard at completing this degree while doing those two and at times three other jobs, and I felt like I was being rejected again by those who should have been closest to me. I mean, I would have class until maybe 10 o’clock at night, a few times a week. And then by the time I commuted home, it might be 11. And then I would actually sit down to do some coursework until about midnight before going to sleep. Then I would actually get up at around 5:00 in the morning so I could start commuting to my first job for the day and doing the working process all over again. On nights I didn’t have class, I would have two jobs back to back, some days even 3. My day job until about 4 or 5, and then I went to a night job working customer service at a clothing store, and I would work there until 9:00 or 10:00, then commute home so it would be eleven or even midnight by the time I got back because I was taking two buses home. So if I missed one connection, I had to wait thirty minutes or an hour to catch the next. And on days I had three jobs, I would be getting up at 3:00 in the morning, working until about five or six, then commuting to the day job until 4 or 5, and then sometimes even going to work at that evening job. So it was just a constant process of exhaustion.

[00:07:14] So 2011 was another year where I felt like people in my life let me down and it became another step in the process of learning who I am, learning who I can trust and depend upon.

[00:07:27] So now we move to 2012, which was a really big fucking year for me and I was definitely depressed. Now I have talked about depression before. You can check out my podcast called “Loneliness and Writing” for more and to hear me share my journey with depression and loneliness. I’ll also include resources to help you out if you need someone to talk to or if you need help. And some of those resources are available 24/7, so please don’t hesitate to reach out. If you need someone, those resources will be in the description.

[00:07:57] So 2012 was the start of another cycle of change for me. I started another degree program and again I reached out to people for help emotionally or even help just with certain tasks, but I was again rebuked and rejected. I started to realize that there are a lot of people who come through your life who are just going to be takers, who you’re going to give and give and give to them, and they’re just never going to give back. And it’s not that you’re asking for a lot. Most of the time you just want someone to listen. You want someone to empathize, which doesn’t cost anything but time. But even that is too much for some people to give.

[00:08:37] If people can’t give you their time, don’t give yours back in return. It’s that simple. And that was something I started to learn that year. For me, some of the recurring shit I hear is about my unmarried state and there is such a bullshit stigma that’s associated with unmarried women. If I reach out for help, others have told me – well, you’re not married, so you’re not busy, so you have the time and you don’t need my help. The idea is that if you’re not married, then you’re not busy and your time is not valuable and therefore you are not valuable as a human unless you have another human, in my case a human male, attached to me. So there is a lot of disrespect that goes on when you are a woman who may be in her 30s and who is not married.

[00:09:21] And it’s hard to reconcile that with people who are supposed to love you. One of my favorite lines is from a TV episode and it’s “Why is it so easy to love your family, but it’s so hard to like them?” Why is it so easy to love your family, but it’s so hard to like them? That came from an episode of “Frasier”. I can’t recall which episode it was, but that line has always stuck with me because it’s so true. I can love these people in my life, whether they’re family or close friends or whoever. But if they’re not there to support me or even give me the tiniest bit of respect for me and for my time, then it becomes challenging to deal with them or have them in my life on a daily basis.

[00:10:04] The thing is, if you keep trying to reach out to others for help and they keep saying no, you stop asking, and this is the problem so many people with depression or other mental health issues or just people who are alone run into. And it’s definitely something I do. Even when I was moving, I mentioned before that I didn’t think to reach out for help because I’d just gotten so used to people saying no, that I’d stopped asking for help for a lot of things. I’ve become fiercely independent and at times fiercely lonely, too, because I can’t depend on those around me. And I haven’t found a group I can depend on either, and I’m wary to put myself out there again just to be rejected.

[00:10:43] And I think that beginning to acknowledge that in 2012 led to a massive revelation that I had about myself and about my life during Ramadan that year. One of the reasons I love Ramadan is because of all of the introspection that I do during that month. I used to hate introspection and thinking about my life and where it was going and where it had been. And it’s really tough when you first start doing it, but now I love it. I love really thinking about where my life has been and where I like my life to go and to think about why I made the decisions I did and why I made the actions that I did. In Ramadan, you tend to do more introspection because you’re praying more. You’re fasting, you’re focusing on what should be most important in your life.

[00:11:27] And so I had a huge revelation in 2012 about my decision making process. I realized exactly why I make the decisions that I do and what the impetus behind those decisions are, and it was completely mind blowing. I realized that people treated me like a burden in their lives and had for years and years and years. My father was out of work a lot growing up. So, even as a young child, if I wanted something, a toy, or actually most of the time it was usually a book, I was shamed for it or made to feel guilty for it. I’d hear that we don’t have money and you shouldn’t ask for anything. A nicer way to say that would have been to explain that we needed money for food or for the mortgage instead. But it was the way it was explained to me that told me I shouldn’t ask for anything. I shouldn’t expect anything. I don’t deserve anything, and I should just be happy with what I get. And I need to give what I do have to help out.

[00:12:21] And this mindset has also really affected my financial and fiscal mentality and how I manage money to this day, which I am still trying to fix. Side note, I also started regularly using a library card at this point. I also think it would be a great idea if libraries also had toy libraries and maybe they do, but that way little kids whose families can’t afford toys can still let them play and have some semblance of a normal fucking childhood. So realizing that I felt like a burden even after a few years of being independent and on my own made me realize that so many of my life decisions were based on that idea. I made decisions so I wouldn’t be a burden to anyone, even though I continued to help those in my life who asked for it. But I wasn’t “allowed” to ask for help in return. I know, right? What a mind-blowing revelation.

[00:13:12] Even something simple like moving or putting together some furniture where I might need some help, I wouldn’t ask for it. I wouldn’t involve other people or burden them with my problems, big or small. So having that revelation of what was behind my decision making process really opened up my eyes. And even knowing that, it still took me years to undo that ingrained thinking that I’m a burden to other people. It’s taken me years to get to the place where I can say “I’m a fucking human and I am not a burden on any fucking body just for existing in the world”.

[00:13:44] Even asking for help is something I still struggle with and something I’m still learning how to do. It takes you time to really change your decision making process and to change how you think and see yourself before you see those positive changes. So if you’re someone who thinks similarly, start working on shifting your mindset now, as this is definitely a long game and it’s going to take you a while before you see those changes.

[00:14:11] So now we move to 2013. In 2013, I was still processing my revelations from the previous year and trying to sort out how to stop thinking of myself as a burden. And the entire year is summed up by two moments for me.

[00:14:26] The first moment was when I graduated with degree number five and, again, no one came. Not even friends this time. Only my classmates who were graduating, too. One of my classmates had that pitying look in her eyes and even invited me out to celebrate with her family. Though I didn’t end up going, I really did appreciate her invitation, but I wanted my family and friends there to celebrate with me.

[00:14:49] It doesn’t matter if it’s my first degree or my fifth. You fucking show up for people you love and respect and honor their hard work and accomplishments. Others always expected me to show up for them, but they wouldn’t show up for me in return. And it really fucking hurt. It also made me realize, fucking finally realize, that these people in my life will never approve of me or what I do and they’ll never celebrate my accomplishments, so I just won’t share what I’m doing with any of them.

[00:15:19] They don’t get to share my life if they can’t show up for my life.

[00:15:23] The second moment of the year is one that stands out vividly in my mind. I’d just finished a call with a family member who’d made me feel like shit, and I was sitting in my bed afterwards completely sobbing my eyes out. Suddenly, BAM, I was hit with this realization: Why am I letting these people make me miserable? Why am I letting them control my emotions in this way? They do not get to control how I feel. They do not get to make me feel anything unless I let them make me feel it. I don’t need to feel upset when they say these things to me. I don’t need to start crying every time I speak to them. I can choose another way. I have a choice. I don’t have to do what they say. I don’t have to feel how they want me to feel. And I can feel better about myself and about my life and about everything.

[00:16:12] I don’t know where that revelation came from, but it was basically like a switch that flipped in my brain to that mindset. That was when I told myself that they don’t support me in anything I do, but there are things I can do for myself. I had always wanted to write, but was afraid to. But I realized I don’t need to share my writing with these people. I can just write on my own, publish under a pen name and never tell any of them anything. And that’s what I did. If you listened to my last episode, I talked a little bit about why it’s okay to write a bad book and those first few stories were definitely bad, but I kept writing and I got better and I continue to get better to this day. Only a few close friends know about my writing and that’s the way I like it. I don’t want to deal with the judgment or the shame or the other bullshit that would come with sharing this part of my life with people who claim to love me but don’t seem to like me very much. They don’t get to share my life if they can’t show up for my life.

[00:17:10] Now we come to 2014. In 2014, I set up my business and I began to self-publish. I didn’t have any editors at this time, so I was doing everything myself. I even taught myself how to make my own book covers. So 2014 was about taking the leap and believing in myself, even though my first few or four stories were awful. The next four were better, and the ones after that were even better too. I had finally done something for myself and for my future, and no one else’s opinion was relevant to me in order to hit publish on that first story.

[00:17:45] Having done this was especially important this year because near the end of the year I had one of the worst experiences. A family member told me straight out – this is not an interpretation, not a misrepresentation – but they told me that they were ashamed of me because I wasn’t married. They told me that I was bringing shame on the family because I was in my thirties and not married. Can you imagine that? Someone who’s supposed to love me is telling me that they’re ashamed of me because I wasn’t married. It was so fucking painful and hurtful and goddamn exhausting. But one thing I realized was that I was so fucking glad that I’d never told them I was writing, and it reinforced the decision to keep my writing to myself. I deserve better than to have people tell me they’re ashamed of me for any reason, but particularly a bullshit reason like I’m not married.

[00:18:37] I deserve better. I’m not afraid to say that anymore. And that’s a pretty big thing.

[00:18:42] Well, wow, that was a packed first few years of this past decade. This is going to be the end of part one, but I’ll recap 2015 to 2019 in the next episode and give you my biggest takeaways and lessons learned from the entire decade, so stay tuned.

[00:19:00] Now I want to hear from you. Please head to the blog or join our community on Facebook to let me know what you thought about this episode. If you need help with a decade in review exercise, I’ve also linked Marie Forleo’s guide to help you. I’d also be very grateful if you could leave a review for this podcast wherever you like to listen. Thank you.

[00:19:54] Thank you for listening to this episode. Check out the show notes for links to my blog and our community where you can get involved in the discussion and support others. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get to free and powerful tools to help you. One: access to my growing library of free resources for authors; and Two: you’ll also get access to my exclusive writing challenge “How to Write Faster in 14 Days” where I share all my tips and techniques that helped me finish over 20 works in five years. Check out the show notes for all the links and thanks again for being part of this community.


****TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE #14 (PART 2, 2015-2019)*****

[00:00:00] Today, we’re wrapping up my decade in review, which began in the last episode. If you’d like to hear how the rest of my decade went and the biggest life and personal lessons I learned that could help you, too, then please keep listening.

[00:00:11] You may write alone, but you are not alone. Inside the Writer’s Soul focuses on how personal experiences can inform your writing and help you speak from the soul to really connect with readers and other authors as well. Your writer’s soul doesn’t need to take the writing and publishing journey alone. Join me, your host M. Khan, and let’s move forward together.

[00:00:36] Hello and welcome! Today we’re picking back up with my decade in review. In the last episode, we covered 2010 to 2014, and today, we’ll cover 2015 to 2019. As with the last episode, I’m going to put a trigger warning on this one. Though this episode won’t be as heavy with serious topics as the last one, I want to be mindful of your mental health, so please be aware of that if you continue to listen to this episode.

[00:01:03] So 2015 was the start of the next cycle of change in my life. After dealing with another shitty boss, I changed my day job yet again and I moved to the company that I am actually still with now, and overall I just had more personal confidence this year. Writing-wise, I launched the big series I have under my pen name and I published several books under that series as well. I really pushed myself to write as much as I could every single day and that was really challenging for me for a variety of reasons. If you’d like to hear more about that, check out episode two of the podcast “Why you don’t need to write every day to be an author”.

[00:01:40] But overall, 2015 was the year that my writing became a career. This wasn’t just a hobby, but was becoming something I wanted to do full-time, and I started to work my ass off for it.

[00:01:53] In 2016, I continued to struggle with some health issues, but still managed to publish a few more books. Something I’ll talk about in an upcoming episode is how to handle when your passion becomes profitable and turns into a real business because there is definitely a learning curve and a mindset shift that needs to happen. Writing had and still does bring me joy. But what happens with something you love becomes something bogged down by admen and bills and deadlines and responsibilities? It shifts from being solely creative and amazing to a time-sucking management hamster wheel.

[00:02:28] 2016 was a year of growing pains for me of learning how to respond to shitty reader comments, learning how to ignore bad reviews and focus on the good. It was learning how to be a businesswoman in a creative endeavor and how to balance my creativity with the need and the desire to make money from my creativity as well.

[00:02:50] In 2017, life was kicking me in the ass again. My health issues came to a head and I didn’t publish a damn thing that year. The building I was living in also kicked everyone out to do a major renovation and the place I found with the little time I had wasn’t great. And by that I mean it really fucking wasn’t great. But I learned a fuck of a lot in 2017. I learned that I don’t need to hold on to things to keep good memories in my hand. I gave away a lot of my books actually, which was tough, but it wasn’t impossible. I got rid of a lot of other things too, and I learned that I’m not such a pushover.

[00:03:26] When the place I moved to tried to screw me, I pushed back, hired a lawyer to help, and sorted shit out. It wasn’t easy. It was fucking frustrating, made worse because I didn’t have a strong support system around me. But I survived it. I fucking survived. By the end of 2017, I was stronger. And I also found a fucking amazing editor that year that transformed how I think about my writing. So even though that move and those changes initially I was worried about, I was scared of, they ended up being really good for me in the long run and pushed me out of what had become my comfort zone.

[00:04:05] It’s not good to stay in your comfort zone all the time. I had lived in that place for seven years before I moved. And while it was great for me at the time, I had really kind of outgrown it. And I don’t just mean space-wise. I mean, I had outgrown it emotionally. I needed to cleanse myself of these physical objects and of some of these mindset shifts I was still holding on to in order to move my life forward. So it was a fucking tough year, but I survived it.

[00:04:35] In 2018, I reset my author life and my publishing schedule. I moved to a new apartment yet again, which was much better than the last one. And I started on the journey to really get healthy. Though I hadn’t published anything in 2017, I had written books but just never followed through to publish them.

[00:04:53] Here’s the thing. When you’re in a shitty situation, you see everything else as shitty, too. My year of non-publishing wasn’t a year of non-writing. I had accomplished things that year but just didn’t give myself credit for them. So in 2018, I started to learn how to recognize everything I was doing to move my life forward and make things better. I developed a system of goal setting and planning that worked wonders and my author life got back on track.

[00:05:22] The biggest thing I learned this year was about my depression because I finally realized what the signs of my depression are. It was the week of Thanksgiving, actually, and there was a book I was really looking forward to that was coming out that week. I’d been waiting almost a year for this book and I actually bought the e-book and the audiobook – and this is super geeky – but that way I could read the book in the morning before the day job, listen to the audiobook at work and to and from work, and then finish reading the book when I got home. But release week came and went and there was nothing. I felt no excitement, no interest, not a single damn thing about this book. It was only when I was actually on my way to someone’s house for dinner later that week, and I was trying to figure out why I had no interest in reading this book, when it finally hit me: I was fucking depressed.

[00:06:14] Not only that, when I get depressed, I realized I can’t read a new book. And thinking back further, when my depression first starts to set in, I stop rereading books, too. Now, I love rereading books. I’m always rereading something and reading something new. I love reading generally and do it every day. But I realized my complete lack of interest in reading, even rereading a book where I don’t have to mentally engage in the plot as much because I already know it, was a huge fucking sign. And now I know. Side note: no one at that dinner asked me if I was depressed, but I didn’t expect them to either. They aren’t ones to notice if anything is wrong with me or ones to ask if there is. Which was disheartening, but it was not surprising. I also still haven’t been able to bring myself to read that book yet, but one day I hopefully will.

[00:07:03] 2019. This year was a mindset reset year for me. I invested heavily in my education, not through a traditional degree program this time, but through various online courses I took in business, mindset, and more. I launched this podcast and my M. Khan website and social and brand and all the things, and started putting myself out there, which is definitely not easy for me to do, but something I’m really glad I did. I’m always afraid of the negative things people may say to me, but I’m trying really hard not to let that fear run my life anymore.

[00:07:37] I also finally found a doctor that is taking my health concerns seriously and I am finally fucking optimistic about making a permanent positive health change in 2020. To hear more about my 2018 and 2019, I recommend checking out my Yearly Theme and Word of the Year podcast episodes.

[00:07:57] Now that we’ve kind of recapped all of those 10 years across these two episodes, it’s time to really think back and do a full review of them. So those were the last 10 years of my life and so fucking much has changed. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention much about my family or friends and the negative shit they said to me for the recap in these last few years on this episode. And that’s because I stopped caring what they thought and stopped letting that drama into my life.

[00:08:25] One thing I’ve heard Emily McDowell talk about is the chaos of life. Just because I grew up in chaos and drama and others around me want to keep perpetuating that drama, doesn’t mean I need to let that chaos or drama into my life. I grew up in a kind of chaos, one where money was tough to come by for a lot of years and where there was a lot of tension of that at different times, but that kind of chaos is not “normal”. And I don’t need to live that kind of chaos as an adult. I can choose another way. And that includes keeping a distance from some family. Do I still get hurt when they say dumb, ignorant shit to me? Yes, but I don’t dwell on it as much anymore. I still get depressed, but now I know how to recognize when that happens and I’m learning how to manage those days better.

[00:09:13] The biggest thing I’ve learned over the past 10 years is how to be kind to myself. I’ve learned how to recognize when other people aren’t being kind to me and I’m learning how to manage them when they do. I’ve made the hard decision to let go of some friends that were hurting me more than helping me. And I’ve distanced myself from some family who do the same. I’ve learned the root of my money mindset and I’m shifting the belief that I need to be in debt because that’s all I saw my parents in. I’m still in a lot of fucking debt, but I won’t be in it forever. I’m going to pay this shit off abso-fucking-lutely.

[00:09:48] I recognize that I am not a beaten down, broken burden to any-fucking-one, and I learned to value myself and my time above everything else. There is a difference between being conceited and being proud of who you are. If you’re conceited, you want everyone else to praise you all the time and don’t want to improve yourself because you don’t think you need improving. If you’re proud of yourself, you know you’re a good fucking human and you keep working to get better and to make the world around you a better place, too.

[00:10:18] I am proud of who I am and what I’m putting out into the universe, even if it is fucking scary to do it. I am an amazing person. I’m kind. I’m loving. I have a high level of tolerance, but a low level of patience. I have gorgeous curly hair and a beautiful body, no matter what anyone else thinks, and I’m working to get healthy again. Not everything in my life is perfect, but it doesn’t need to be for me to be happy.

[00:10:45] I think one of the traps we fall into is thinking that only perfect means happy. But life is fucking messy and beautiful and amazing. Perfect isn’t as important as being happy and being kind to each other, including yourself. It took me a lot of fucking years to realize that, but I did.

[00:11:03] 2010 me was a strong woman who didn’t believe she was strong. She was worn down and worn out, but not defeated. 2019 me recognizes my strength is independent of other people. She recognizes the good in her life and is working to make the other parts of her life better too. One thing I’ve realized is that at the end of the day, I’m a pretty decent human. I’m not perfect and I never will be. But I’m still a good person and I’m proud of everything I’ve done and accomplished. I’ve also learned that I am successful and I learned to define that success on my terms and not anyone else’s. Don’t let other people define what success means for your life.

[00:11:45] Maybe I don’t have close relationships with many or maybe even all of my family members anymore, but that’s okay because asking them to change to fit me is the exact same thing they’re doing to me. Asking them to change isn’t fair to them, just like asking me to change isn’t fair to me. They are who they are. I can’t dictate their life’s path or their actions any more than they are allowed to dictate mine. They may want to dictate my life to me, but that’s why I’ve pulled back, because I’m not going to allow that to happen anymore.

[00:12:18] In many cultures, there is a sort of family-always mentality, which means you do everything and anything for your family. I still help my family and friends, but I don’t allow them to manipulate me anymore, or at least not as much anymore. And I’m fully aware of when they are doing it and when I’m allowing myself to be manipulated. Usually I’ll allow this manipulation if I need their help with something or I want to visit a particular family member, then I’ll put up with what they’re doing. But that’s the thing. They think they’re manipulating me and are happy about it. But what they don’t know or realize is that I’m actually manipulating them to get what I need, too. Should I have to resort to this? No. I should not have to endorse manipulation or do manipulation just to see a family member. But this is who they are. They’re manipulators and they’re not likely to change.

[00:13:09] If someone wants to change and become a better person, they have to do it for themselves. You cannot change anyone but yourself. And that is probably the biggest takeaway from my last 10 years. You cannot change anyone but yourself.

[00:13:25] Well, that was quite a recap of the last decade of my life. Now I want to hear from you. What have you learned about yourself over the last 10 years? Head to the blog or join our Facebook community to let me know, the links in the description. If you need help with a decade in review exercise, I’ve also linked Marie Forleo’s guide to help you. I’d also be very grateful if you could leave a review for this podcast wherever you like to listen. Thank you.

[00:13:52] Thank you for listening to this episode. Check out the show notes for links to my blog and our community where you can get involved in the discussion and support others. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get to free and powerful tools to help you. One: access to my growing library of free resources for authors; and Two: you’ll also get access to my exclusive writing challenge “How to Write Faster in 14 Days” where I share all my tips and techniques that helped me finish over 20 works in five years. Check out the show notes for all the links and thanks again for being part of this community.


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