The other night, I was on a date. Though the date ended up going horribly, I took away a piece of advice from it.
I told him my 20s feel like a constant uphill battle, and I'm tired of not knowing whether what I'm doing is the "right" thing.
He responded with, "Sure, the journey's tough, but is life even worth living when there's no longer a battle to fight?" Bad date: 1, Sheena: 0.
Your 20s are not easy; they're quite the opposite, actually. I spend a lot of time worrying about whether I'll ever reach that ultimate goal I've set for myself.
Still, working toward something worth having is usually infinitely more fulfilling than not working toward it at all or being stuck in a job that leaves you with little gratification.
Many of my friends come tell me they are not happy with what they're doing. If you're not happy, your life can feel like a series of fitting square pegs into round holes. That can get really old, really fast.
Cue maximum potential. Your maximum potential is defined as a measure of how much you're worth and what you are capable of doing.
The truth is, we should all be living up to our maximum potential, but some of us are not and we don't even know it. So, how can you tell if you're being the best version of yourself?
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I feel challenged?
Do you feel like you're being pushed out of your comfort zone, or are you just too comfortable? The point of being youthful and energetic is to use up all that brainpower and appetite for life.
If you're not growing by being put into difficult situations that make you think on your feet, you're not being challenged and not using everything you have.
Do I feel like a whole person, or only half of one?
We know we're living up to our maximum potential if it's easy to get out of bed in the morning.
If it feels like a drag to get out of bed, though, then you're either spending your time doing something that leaves you unsatisfied or applying your energy incorrectly.
Take the energy you're channeling into the thing that's making you feel like a zombie, and channel it toward whatever makes your heart beat fast.
If I were my future son or daughter, would I advise him or her do to do what I'm doing?
Most of the time, it's much easier to give advice to others than to take it ourselves. Think about the advice you give to those you love; would you tell your BFF to date a douchebag? Would you tell your sister to turn down her dream job for a soul-sucking one?
If you wouldn't dish out that advice, why would you apply it to yourself? Think of what you would tell your hypothetical son or daughter to do, and then do that. You deserve to be happy, too.
Am I letting my relationships hold me back?
Young people need to be extra aware of what the people on the other end of their relationships are doing for them.
Do your parents discourage you from pursuing your dreams? Is that boyfriend or girlfriend a complete nag and expect you to be home at 8 pm sharp every night instead of letting you go the extra mile to work on your hobby?
If any of these hold true, get better at blocking out white noise because there's something bubbling up inside of you — something greater, bigger and more powerful — that you're suppressing.
The only thing worse than not living up to your maximum potential in the moment is lying on a deathbed, wishing you had done more.
I know it can be hard, and at times, painful to live up to the best version of yourself. But as my date said, the journey is brilliant and beautiful.