When In Doubt, Navigate Life With Your Core Values

I’m not always at my best. My self-esteem can drop pretty low at times while my anxious mind is awfully good at convincing me my world is falling apart. The one thing that I always feel proud of, no matter how bad things seem, is my set of core values. I know, without a doubt, that I have the best people around me who have the best core values — from immediate family, extended family to close friends. Kindness, love, and respect are what I’m unconditionally showered with whenever I’m around them. They’re also caring, smart, accepting, open-minded and, most definitely, genuine. I know that’s me at the core too. I’m at my strongest when I carry myself based on those values. They make me a good person.

Though, I don’t always remember all that. My complexly deep-rooted issues often make me forget all the good stuff about me and my world and lead me to look for love and connections in all the wrong places. It also doesn’t help that I’m in a foreign country without a close-knitted community of people holding similar values, those who know my roots and essence and can help me reinforce those values in times of need. No. It’s been me versus the big, chaotic London. It’s been me navigating life and early adulthood mostly on my own. As I was constantly challenged by different lifestyles, cultures, worldviews, social classes, I started doubting whether I was good enough. I slowly lost sight of my values and became confused about how I should present myself. I was oblivious to the fact that people might already have unfavourable biases about me as a young Asian woman. Consequently, I attracted incompatible males who got me all wrong and I misplaced my self-worth and self-esteem onto the hands of those whom I had no business seeking belongingness from but desperately did it times and times again anyway.

It makes no sense that someone like me who is self-aware, reflective, makes good judgment and has excellent relationships otherwise would keep choosing such wrong romantic partners and hurting myself in the process. It’s bizarre that I keep putting myself down and having such a hard time on a daily basis for no good reason. Well, actually, from a psychological perspective, I do know why and I’m going through many of these issues in therapy and through my own research. But inner complex aside, it would help tremendously if I could simply use my core values to base decision-making upon just like I usually do when it comes to friendships or any other important matters which have worked out well for me. I wouldn’t have to worry about making bad decisions because a decision based on fundamental values will always serve me in the long run. It would help prevent unconscious fixations, triggers, or enacting of unhealthy past patterns. Likewise, a choice of partners based on fundamental values will always lead to authentic connections, no bullshit.

This year has been a real challenge for me with lots of boundaries pushed and lessons learned. It has toughened me up but also made me wary of what comes next. I’m in my mid-twenties now. Time is passing by pretty fast. Adulthood is getting more real. Many times, I wake up with overwhelming anxiety about my future. I’m nervous that I would go down the wrong paths, work the wrong jobs, and find myself trapped in miserable relationships. But then I remember that I’m not alone. I have a community who needs me just as much as I need them. I have my values to lean back on. They’re my inner compass. They’re always here to help me navigate the unknown ahead. They will guide me through darkness and hold me together in tough times. Forget the superficial stuff. Mute the self-doubts. My one job is to live and breathe these values and make sure the physical me represents these values loudly, clearly, and consistently at all times, which will make me feel confidently true to myself and allow others to see me too.

Now as I embrace these core values in my daily thoughts and actions, I feel much more solid and calm. I’ve naturally slowed down. I know what I have to do. I know what’s important. I can envision the life I want and deserve, and it won’t be one that suffocates me with a list of requirements of who I should be in order to be accepted and loved — It will be one that works just right for me as who I am. Now and then, I might still get carried away and lost. I might lose touch with myself again and want someone else’s life instead of my own. That’s when I look inward and turn to my community for reinforcement and support. What also helps me is find a role model who lives out similar values and ask myself what they would do if they were in my shoes, then adjust my thinking and behaviours accordingly.

I understand that when I navigate life with my core values, it might feel stagnant because losses are cut quickly and the wrong things would have no chance to materialise. But it will be worth it when something good happens. It’s totally worth the wait.

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