There’s nothing more I regret than lying to myself.

I’m not talking about the lie where I’d tell my friend how nice her home is when there’s cracked walls and worn clothes on the floor. But more like I automatically accept people’s invitations when in fact, I’d rather be chilling in my room watching Korean drama or writing another heart-touching story.

It’s just hard saying “no” to people you’re genuinely attracted to. People you’ve just met. People with high influence. People you’ve been friends with for YEARS (well at least for me). Because ultimately what we all want is to fit in with everyone and show our best selves.

But let’s be real — we can’t always pretend that we’re free, that we’re interested, that we’re okay with whatever comes our way. That’s not living life. That’s living a lie.

And sadly, it took me 25 years to finally break free from this mindset, if they’re happy, I’ll be happy too. What I should’ve done instead of holding back my wants and aspirations for other’s sakes, is to do what I want.

Because at the end of the day, I accomplish more and feel good about where I am in life. It just takes a strict routine of reminders to help me get real with myself. Hopefully, they’ll help you too.

1. Be who you are, don’t try to be anyone else

What’s the point of fitting into somebody else’s mold when you can’t perfect their strengths or replicate their thoughts? It’s smarter if you focus on yourself and do things you’re good at. After all, people respect those who’ve grown strong on their own, not a copycat.

2. Let go of negative people

It’s tiring having to deal with other people’s problems especially if you’re swamped with your own. Sure, you can be their savior for the next few talks. But how much longer are you going to be their emotional tampon if they never learn to change? Save yourself for people who can lift you up (as you do for them) and cut out those who drag you down.

3. Express your true feelings and opinions

If you’re going to be yourself, speak out. Even if it might hurt others in the form of a critical remark to their ego or beliefs, say it anyways. Because people who can’t be open or accept you for being you are insecure with their own selves. They just can’t face reality without losing control of their emotions. If anything, the people you should surround yourself with are those who welcome your honest opinion and aren’t afraid to get their ego bashed.

4. Don’t say something you can’t stand behind

People take words very seriously. And if you tend to say things without believing in it, they’ll start questioning your mindset and breaking it down until your weakness is fully exposed. If you want to get real with yourself, secure your values and beliefs and have a legitimate answer to what you think feels right. Words make up your authenticity. So say what you mean and mean what you say.

5. Only take advice you have evaluated carefully

Just because it is right for them doesn’t mean it is right for you. Most of us carry this conception that there’s one solution for everything — be it high-end skincare products for the flawless skin, Linkedin for job opportunities, college for a 6-digit salary. But the truth is, there’s more than one thing that works. And the only way you would know is by taking every piece of advice with a grain of salt and evaluating its success by the majority’s nod of approval.

6. Don’t complain about your problems, find a solution

Whining about how bossy your manager is or how loud your car screeches when you brake isn’t going to solve a thing. All you’re doing is making yourself feel worse for something you can solve in a day. In that case, think about your best options. Ask your family and friends for advice. Google if you need to. The goal is to find the simplest way to live the life you want it to be, not to be stuck in a shitty one.

Feel more real?

Good, keep it that way.