I am my own worst enemy.

This is not a problem that I alone have. I know many high-achieving, perfection-seeking, passionate individuals who suffer from too much self-criticism. I will be the first to admit I see my own faults far before they become apparent to others, though when it comes to evaluating other people, I always see the good long before the not-so-great.

I am way too hard on myself. Whether it is getting a low grade on a paper, failing to meet a deadline, falling short of a goal, overthinking someone's reaction, not getting feedback on something I put my time into — no matter what it is, I am always a step ahead, negative thoughts running rampant, setting fire to my self-esteem and any sense of self-appreciation I had built up. I know I do this. It is something I have recently been trying to work on, but progress does not happen overnight, and it is a far cry from a trackable, visible project.

In the last month alone, I have made several big decisions. Several really big, really scary, really impactful decisions. I know what I am doing is probably what is best for my own mental health and for my general wellbeing. I know these changes are going to be better for everyone involved. I keep telling myself I made the right decisions, that it will be better, that things will get easier, that I cannot keep hiding and living the way I have been, that these are the steps I have to take to find my happiness.

Amidst all of these reassurances, I find one feeling bubbling, growing bigger and bigger, forcing itself closer and closer to the surface every waking second.

Guilt.

I feel so fucking guilty. I feel guilty for ending a relationship. I feel guilty for taking time for myself when I could be helping others. I feel guilty for leaving a position I have held for almost two years. I feel guilty for not having a plan, just taking life as it comes to me.

I feel like I am letting everyone around me down. I feel so full of guilt and self-hatred and doubt, and it is unbearable, really.

Then a dear friend stopped one of many recent breakdowns when she told me this:

"Don't ever feel guilty for doing what's best for you."

I stopped. I stared at the words. I read them again. And again. And again.

This sentence has become my mantra, my guiding force.

It is these words that have gotten me through everything that has been going on in my life.

It is these words I pass on to you.

Don't EVER feel guilty for doing what's best for you.

Say it out loud.

Now, say it again.

And again.

We cannot keep living like this. We cannot hold ourselves accountable to this extreme for every single thing we do in our lives. Sometimes, the best thing for us is walking away. And while that sucks and can be overwhelming and unbearable and ultimately debilitating at times, we just have to remember — to keep telling ourselves.

Don't ever feel guilty for doing what's best for you.

You deserve to feel happy. You deserve to choose the things that stay in your life. You deserve to always open your eyes after the storm and see another brilliant, beautiful day ahead of you.

The whole world is watching, but that doesn't mean you don't deserve to find happiness.