I feel like the past three years of my life have been filled with highs and lows. The landscape didn't seem to include many stable plantains, but instead jagged spurts of vertical mountains and dangerously low valleys. The last three years have knocked me down, hard. They have made me second guess my decisions and reconsider my dreams, but mostly, they have taught me things that will change my life for the better.
I have learned that time is the most valuable thing we own and therefore being present is the best way to have satisfaction. Shortly after I reprioritized the importance of money to instead be on people and experiences. I saw that being rich doesn't fix things. I realized that hyper-focusing on the external only abandons the internal - and that appearance fades. Nurturing the soul is most important. I learned that life is too short for "I wish" or "I should have." And, I have discovered that without your own health, happiness, and stability, you have nothing.
I learned that it's okay to look inside. That there is a distinct difference between being "selfish" and prioritizing "selfcare". The two can be intertwined, confusing and capable of stirring up a whole lot of trouble, but identifying between them is a necessary battle to achieve self-empowerment and discovery. If you're like me and pleasing others seems to run in your blood - second nature, done without hesitation, sometimes to a fault - it is crucial. Especially, when taking care of others leads to hurting yourself.
I don't think I knew how much this habit had affected me until it had done its fair share of damage. I had given up my own interests, prioritized the desires of those around me, and lost sight of the future I wanted in pursuit of "not rocking the boat." I had had too many crashes and I wasn't going to be responsible for another. And so, I became a sponge of information and others dreams, absorbing the lives I saw and slowly squeezing out the one I owned. I was petrified of being selfish and because of it, took things too far.
Come college, the drift was amplified. I saw my tendency lead to neglect and not knowing who I was, grabbed anything I could. I wanted people to like me, I hated conflict, I was desperate to be "happy" and I looked for the easy way out. Yet still, I got tired of my people pleasing self and I chose instead to numb the issue at hand. I used to be a follower unfulfilled, I didn't know another way.
It was only a matter of time. I needed to learn how to lead myself and taking charge wasn't going to be easy, but it had to happen.
Through the process I found myself admitting to a lot of self-destruction. I had the power to do things differently, but I either didn't see it or didn't do it. Coming to terms with my passive personality allowed me to go about things in a new way.
Living your life for others, dimming your light for fear of rejection or hiding "you" to make someone else "happier" won't get you very far. And sure, there is a level of respect that any good friend should possess, but also a fine line between compassion for others and ignoring personal content. Acknowledging what I deserved changed my life - I know it can change other people's, too.
Typically the fear of disappointment and lack of acceptance affects decision making. It becomes such a powerful, learned instinct that forces a gap between someone and their inner peace. I lost touch with who I was and once I understood, saw that I forgot, I was desperate to remember. From this point on it became a process of reintroduction and for that, I can not be more grateful.
I began to learn again, exactly who I hoped to be. I saw the things that brought me raw joy and the things I could live without. I figured out what made me mad and how to handle it. I got sad, really sad, but it showed me the people that I love, and that they too can hurt me. Most of all, I was able to appropriately take care of myself. Reiterating that my self-respect will no longer be ignored in fear of "selfishness." If others occupy my attention, I deserve it too.