If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Kenna McLeod, Staff Writer

For my second article for The Herd, I asked my schoolmates a simple question: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why? Inevitably, as a Gen-Zer, I took to Instagram. I set up a Q&A type of deal on my story which included roughly 40 people I’m either close with or go to school with. Just for some context, the age range of these people was 15-18 years old, so kids around my age. 

In the meantime, I began to attempt to answer the question myself. Right off the bat (and not to my surprise), an overwhelming amount of self-criticism, which seems to be already bouncing around in my head, came to mind. As I continued to rake through those feelings about myself, I came upon piles of bad habits and self-sabotaging tendencies: the poor decisions, empty promises, and arguments handled poorly that have put me in the place in which I am today. Basically, it was all downhill from there. The list of things I wanted to change was too long. Fortunately for my bothered and distracted mind, I finally began to see response after response pile up in my DMs. 

There were, in fact, plenty of noticeable patterns I found within the responses, all of which made perfect sense and were most likely due to the age range of the respondents. Let’s face it, we aren’t exactly experiencing the easiest period of our lives, are we? I compiled some of the most commonly mentioned ideas, and ultimately, we want more confidence. Some respondents mentioned that confidence, for them, is strongly affiliated with their yearning to develop solid connections with people, without the doubt that they wouldn’t be able to please them. This is more than understandable, something the majority of us struggle with regularly, but that’s just it. It’s as if there’s often an expectation to please others, rather than an expectation to please ourselves. Self-doubt around productivity also proved to be a significant similarity within the responses. One respondent wishes they read more, and another struggles tremendously with time-management and procrastination. That I can definitely relate to. 

 Sure, this stuff sounds pretty basic, aren’t those some pretty ideal characteristics we all hope for? It was interesting since even though most of the answers were within the realm of those three categories, many of them gave such different reasoning, and different contexts as to why.  These unique yet similar responses reveal our tendency to dissect the bits of ourselves that irk us to the core. On some level, we all suffer from the same resentment towards those specific qualities. This aspect of how we treat ourselves and how we respond to our actions differs greatly from how we typically treat others, especially loved ones. 

This is why one response from a friend really stuck out to me: they talked about wanting to love themselves unconditionally with the same care they show towards others instead of endlessly criticizing the characteristics that bother us the most – whether or not it’s even feasible to change them. This got me thinking. Obviously, I can’t assume how every individual feels about themselves… but I do know so many people in my life who just don’t have the same level of love and respect for themselves that they are able to demonstrate towards others, and it tends to hurt them in the end. They don’t deserve that; no one does. I mean, imagine how you would treat a friend complaining about their weight or maybe how overwhelmed they tend to get in social situations. It honestly could be anything. Whatever it is, you support them, right? You’ll maintain that constant, underlying foundation of love and esteem for them, hoping to build them up so they may be able to see themselves in the light in which you view them. Imagine having that safe cushion of appreciation for your own personal attributes. 

Anyways, that’s what I found. We are likely to continue breaking ourselves down, adding to that horrid list of things we would change if only it were possible. Our attitudes and happiness play such an eminent role in our habits, yet those two variables are ultimately controlled by the optimal blend of appreciation and expectation which keeps us going. This is why, in reality, those patterns will never have the ability to permanently change if we cannot develop that same unequivocal admiration within the relationship we have with ourselves.