My first semester of college was amazing and I found myself falling even deeper in love with writing, but I had to withdraw at the end of the semester because of financial reasons. This led me to experience what still is the greatest depression I have ever been through. I felt completely defeated and, after a year of sulking and struggling to find a stable source of income, things began to look up for me: I had finally found a job and I fell hard in love with a boy who quickly became my first real boyfriend.

I was not cured of my depression, but I was happier and I felt less lost. It was this newfound happiness that, after my boyfriend asked me if I wanted to find an apartment together, motivated me to move forty-five minutes south of my small hometown in Virginia to a much bigger city in North Carolina. We found a nice apartment with a good roommate and, best of all, I was able to keep my job and I transferred to a store that was just down the street from where we lived.

The first month went smoothly. Despite both of us working long hours and rarely having money to splurge with, my boyfriend and I were making the most of what we could and I reached a level of happiness I had not experienced in a long time. As time progressed, however, things began to change.

At work, the pace started to pick up as the holiday season kicked off. It was my first year working during the holiday season and I had a hard time figuring out what was worthy of being stressed over and what was a waste of my time. By the end of the season, I had definitely gotten the hang of it and I felt proud of my growth at work.

At home, my boyfriend became distant. He played it off as one thing then another and when he came to me and said the distance was because of me, I did my best to try and fix our problems. I tried my hardest to make him happy and I tried to give him all of the love and affection he desired, even if I was receiving nothing in return in the moment.

I talked less around him, I tried my hardest to look more appealing to him, and I even asked for less both romantically and sexually while continuously giving him what he desired and fantasized about when asked, if asked, and even if deep down I knew I did not feel comfortable with it.

After he went on a beach trip with a group of guys he barely knew to celebrate his birthday, I realized that our relationship was reaching its end. When he returned from his trip, he did not even want to spend his birthday with or around me and so I gave him his distance once again.

It was a close friend of mine who made me realize my worth and that my happiness, for the first time in a year, deserved to come first. I loved a memory of him and I began to understand that he no longer was the boy I had originally fallen in love with all those months before.

He was chasing his own personal happiness and searching to better understand himself. I may not fault him for that, but I do fault him for his actions and how he treated me in his pursuit of his own happiness. I even fault myself a little because I harmfully put my own personal feelings on hold in order to aid him in his pursuit.

In the year since I moved out on my own for the first time, I learned that my happiness comes first regardless of how selfish it may seem to me or anyone around me, whether they are family, friends, coworkers, or even my partner. I now realize I cannot make anyone happy in this world without being happy myself and, with this idea in mind, I have found myself and I feel like I better understand who I am and who I am meant to be.

I made a lot of mistakes during my first year on my own, but I regret little and my decision to pursue my own happiness is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue happiness and chase it until they obtain it, as long as it is not causing harm to themselves or anyone else.

My pursuit of happiness has led me to better understand what I need to do to achieve the future in my dreams, and achieving that dream does not come without letting go of people who are toxic and harmful to myself and my future, no matter how much I love them.

This move allowed for me to better understand myself and what my limits are in all aspects of my life, from work to friendships to relationships. The one thing I regret is trying to please someone who was incapable of being pleased and forgetting that my happiness comes first.