They say it takes 21 days to start a habit. But bad habits can be like an all-consuming virus, easy to catch but hard to shake. Everybody has a few (though some may not like to admit it). They are often the everyday quirks that are embedded in us. Mine is my ability to permanently live in the procrastination station at every given opportunity. Give me a 5,000-word essay to write and I’ll give you a deep dive into YouTube videos about gorillas being reunited with their human owners after twenty years. Some say it’s a skill, but most would call that a bad habit.
And here are some more.
If you are a person who lives to please everyone around you, you will be familiar with the ‘yes’ problem. Throughout the various internships I have embarked on I was the ‘yes’ person, and at the time that was for good reason. Sometimes, saying yes can be a good thing and I was trying to prove myself. But in others, it’s not. This is because we often say yes for the wrong reasons. We say it because we don’t want to leave people down or avoid conflict. We never seem to say it for our own good. And the more we do it, the more habitual it becomes. If your gut feeling is telling you no, listen to it. If you are exhausted at work, say no. Being at burnout won’t be beneficial for you or anyone else involved.
Caring about what everyone else thinks
I applaud any individual who has been unapologetically themselves without remorse. I have spent too much time worrying about what people around me think of my looks, clothes and decisions. It is a habit that becomes so overpowering that you decide not to wear a particular dress, or not take a particular job because of the opinions of people you have never even uttered a syllable too. It is nothing short of ludicrous when said out loud, but when the world is shouting "conform" you begin to think that it’s the norm. But no one cares if you are wearing a hat made from tin foil and a luminous green fur coat. Most of the time, everyone is too busy in their own lives to even care.
Related: I quit social media for five months and ended up back online, in a new way
Not taking care of you
The most important friendship you will ever have is with yourself. If you are the first person to be at a friend’s side when they are in need, why can’t you do the same for you? Being female sometimes equates to being everything for everyone. You’re a daughter, a mother, a wife, a friend, a worker, a human rights activist, a cook and maybe a dancer when the evening calls for it. Women are amazing, but not one of us is Superwoman. If the oil in the engine isn’t good enough, then the car won’t travel at full speed. And the same goes for us. In our fight to care for all, and our need to be on top of everything we forget about the vessel that contains us. It needs to be cared for both mentally and physically. So take a self-care day, go to a spa, meet friends for a drink or just sit and breathe. You deserve it.
A toxic relationship, romantic or otherwise, is a bad habit. If you come away from an interaction feeling dismayed, insecure, crying or feeling ignored by the person you may have once called home-it is time to cut the cord. Life is short and only those who fill you with gleeful light should be invited and kept. It’s heartbreaking to lose someone, but what you gain is much more precious and that is your happiness.
Get into the habit of ridding bad habits. The ones that tire and scare you, the ones that are annoying and waste your time. It only takes twenty-one days, so why don't you start now?