To The People Who Always Put Others Before Themselves

To The People Who Always Put Others Before Themselves

You are loved.
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You are a special type of person. You’re able to put your needs and wants behind others’. Constantly, you are making sacrifices for the people around you. If you have a seven-page paper due in a few days but a friend needs you? Forget about the paper, you’re there for your friend. Feeling sick and can hardly get out bed but your friend needs help with a project? You’ll be there for them. No matter how big or small the need is, you’re there for your friends and family at all times.

Many times, it can feel like your hard work, sacrifices, and selflessness go unrecognized. You’re constantly doing things for others—do they say thank you or return the favor? Oftentimes even if they don’t, you don’t mind. You just want the people in your life to be happy. But your happiness is important, too.

You deserve the world.

You deserve to receive the same love you put out into the world. Not everyone is going to understand how to show love to you. Many people seem to focus solely on themselves; they don’t always understand how to make a sacrifice for another person. So if others aren’t able to show you love yet, you need to love yourself. Put yourself first once in a while. It’s hard to do that. It might seem selfish, but I promise that it isn’t. Take yourself out for coffee or ice cream. Treat yourself. Take a walk alone and listen to your favorite music. Go out to see a movie by yourself. Write in a journal. Sleep. It’s okay not to be there for your friends every moment of every day. If you don’t take care of yourself and love yourself, it’ll be harder to show love to others.

I’ve recently come to realize that I attach myself to people who don’t express their feelings or show the love that they have for the people in their lives. I think that people who tend to put others first also tend to gravitate towards people like this. We have so much love to give, so we show it most to the people who don’t show it themselves as a form of compensation. While this seems like a good system, it’s flawed. It causes heartache. It constantly feels like nobody loves me as much as I love them, which may be the case, but nonetheless, is a terrible feeling.

That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to love yourself, to save yourself from the heartache.

But how do you learn to love yourself when you’ve put all of your energy into loving others?

It’s different for everyone. I’m in the process of learning to love myself and it’s hard. I’ve tried writing down things that I love about myself, spending time alone, and spending time looking in the mirror to love the way I look. I take walks by myself to my favorite spot in Boston and write music. I’ve started doing things to make myself happy rather than making others happy and it has transformed my self-worth. I feel valuable and important. I feel loved, not necessarily by others, but by myself—and that’s one of the best feelings in the world.

Treat yourself, tell yourself you’re beautiful, and do things that make you happy. You deserve it. You deserve happiness, peace, and love. You matter. You are enough. I hope you learn to love yourself as much as you love others because you deserve it.

Cover Image Credit: Generation Next

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The Potomac Urges Me To Keep Going

A simple story about how and why the Potomac River brings me emotional clarity.

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It's easy to take the simple things for granted. We tell ourselves that life is moving too fast to give them another thought. We are always thinking about what comes next. We can't appreciate what's directly in front of us because we are focused on what's in our future. Sometimes you need to snap back to present and just savor the fact that you are alive. That's what the Potomac River does for me.

I took the Potomac River for granted at one point. I rode by the river every day and never gave it a second glance. I was always distracted, never in the present. But that changed one day.

A tangle of thoughts was running rampant inside my head.

I have a lot of self-destructive tendencies. I find it's not that hard to convince yourself that life isn't worth living if nothing is there to put it in perspective.

My mind constantly conjures up different scenarios and follows them to their ultimate conclusion: anguish. I needed something to pull myself out of my mental quagmire.

All I had to do was turn my head and look. And I mean really look. Not a passing glance but rather a gaze of intent. That's when it hit me. It only lasted a minute or so but I made that moment feel like an eternity.

My distractions of the day, no matter how significant they seemed moments ago, faded away. A feeling of evanescence washed over me, almost as if the water itself had cleansed me.

I've developed a routine now. Whenever I get on the bus, I orient myself to get the best view of the river. If I'm going to Foggy Bottom, I'll sit on the right. If I'm going back to the Mount Vernon Campus, I'll sit on the left. I'll try to sit in a seat that allows me to prop my arm against the window, and rest my cheek against my palm.

I've observed the Potomac in its many displays.

I've observed it during a clear day when the sky is devoid of clouds, and the sun radiates a far-reaching glow upon the shimmering ripples below. I can't help but envy the gulls as they glide along the surface.

I've observed it during the rain when I have to wipe the fogged glass to get a better view. I squint through the gloom, watching the rain pummel the surface, and then the river rises along the bank as if in defiance of the harsh storm. As it fades from view, I let my eyes trace the water droplets trickling down the window.

I've observed it during snowfall when the sheets of white obscure my view to the point where I can only make out a faint outline.

I've observed it during twilight when the sky is ablaze with streaks of orange, yellow, and pink as the blue begins to fade to grey.

Last of all, I've observed it during the night, when the moon is swathed in a grey veil. The row of lights running along the edge of the bridge provides a faint gleam to the obsidian water below.

It's hard to tear away my eyes from the river now. It's become a place of solace. The moment it comes into view, I'll pause whatever I'm doing. I turn up the music and let my eyes drift across the waterfront. A smile always creeps across my face. I gain a renewed sense of life.

Even on my runs, I set aside time to take in the river. I'll run across the bridge toward Arlington and then walk back, giving myself time to look out over either side of the bridge. I don't feel in a rush for once. I just let the cool air brush against my face. Sometimes my eyes begin to water. Let's just say it's not always because of the wind.

I chase surreal moments. The kind of moments you can't possibly plan for or predict. Moments where you don't want to be anywhere else. The ones that ground your sense of being. They make life truly exceptional.

Though I crave these moments, they are hard to come by. You can't force them. Their very nature does not allow it. But when I'm near the river, these moments just seem to come naturally.

I remember biking around DC when I caught sight of the Potomac. Naturally, I couldn't resist trying to get a better view. I pulled up along the river bank, startling a lone gull before dismounting. I took a few steps until I reached the edge of the water. The sun shone brilliantly in the center of the horizon.

A beam of light stretched across the water toward me, almost like a pathway to the other side of the river. I felt an urge to walk forward. I let one-foot dangle over the water, lowering it slowly to reach the glittering water below. I debated briefly whether I could walk on water. Though it sounds ridiculous, anything felt possible. Snapping back to reality, I brought my foot back up and scanned the vast blue expanse before me.

Eventually, the wind began to buffet against my left cheek, as if directing me to look right. I turned my head. A couple was walking along the bike path. They paused beneath a tree for a moment and locked eyes. Smiling, the man leaned in and whispered something in the woman's ear. As she giggled, they began to kiss softly.

While I looked on with a smile of my own, I couldn't help but wonder if there was someone else out there in the world willing to share this moment with me.

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