I have spent the last nineteen years of my life making others happy. This may sound like the most fulfilling way to live, but up until this past summer, I have been truly miserable. When I was younger I discovered very quickly that I didn’t have much going for me. Anyone who knew me previous to my college experience could tell you I’m not funny, I’m too sensitive and serious, and I’m not confident enough in myself to be independent, therefore I completely rely on my, now ex, boyfriend. The point being, since I didn’t have much else to do, I devoted my energy to making other people feel good and ultimately sacrificed my own happiness to gain acceptance.
I used to wear my sister’s tennis shoes for my ex because he liked them better than mine; I set the highest of standards for myself and planned to go to medical school to please my teachers and family; I even started to sacrifice my femininity and “be the son” to appease my dad who was always surrounded by women. Through all of these actions though, I realized I was never happy. My joy (and my demise) relied purely on others’ actions.
When I started dating my, now ex, boyfriend, I was told not to put all of my eggs in said boyfriend’s basket. Sure enough after three and a half years of dating all of those eggs were broken, which is when my life took a turn around. This was the point that I saw how important it was for me to make myself happy and practice some self-compassion. Although I was completely lost, I decided I needed to find away to build a healthy, solid foundation for myself before I made my transition into college and so for the past couple of months I have made it a goal to do something for myself, and something for someone else everyday. I flip pennies heads-up on the sidewalk to give others good luck; I smile at anyone walking by; I give money to the homeless guy off of the County Line exit. These are the things I can do for others that make me happy. Although I am still practicing the art of people pleasing, I have come to the conclusion that this is apart of who I am, something I can’t change, and quite frankly, something I don’t want to change. Being a giver will allow me to make a difference in this world, but I have learned that the greatest giving I can do is back to myself.
Throughout these short weeks in college I have developed into a strong, independent young woman who embraces her strengths and fights her weaknesses. I have come to terms with who I am and what I want in this life, and that does not match up to what I was doing to please others anymore. Today I am living for me. I get up in the morning and breathe for me, not for anyone else, and that could not be more liberating.
Written by Grace Buck, WLLC 2015-2016