Caring for one’s self is the most important thing you can do, but can also be the most difficult. There needs to be a balance that cannot always be easy to see. It can be scary at times, as well as feeling impossible. I’m here to tell you to keep going. It is possible to achieve happiness for yourself. Maybe not every minute of every day, but an overall content with yourself and your life, is definitely achievable.
I know, I know, who is this stranger to tell me this is possible? She doesn’t know me or what I’ve been through. You’re right, I don’t know you or what you’ve been through, but you don’t know me or what I’ve been through either. I can tell you, my life has not been a walk through the park, not even close, but I’m here and I’m finally feeling content with myself after 27 years. Can I improve myself? Absolutely, I’m trying every day to be better and to inspire my students to make themselves better.
See how I slipped that in there? Yes, I am a teacher. I teach at a dyslexia school. Oh no, a special education teacher? She’s definitely just talking to us as though we’re her students, but I’m not. My motto as a teacher is to not teach anything that I can’t also do or that I don’t believe in. I truly believe that everyone can feel happiness if they allow themselves to.
So how did I get this miraculous revelation and how did I achieve it? Through A LOT of failures. From the friends who I picked who just used me, to ex’s who were abusive, to men that I dated who realistically only wanted one thing from me. I started to learn how to become me and what I wanted from life. I wanted to feel accepted. I wanted to feel like I mattered and not just my body. I wanted to feel healthy, for me. I decided I needed to love myself and to stop worrying if a guy could love me.
Sounds great, right? Yea, well it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Like I said, I had a lot of failures along the way, but I kept going. I took every possible opportunity. I traveled. I learned a new language. I started new hobbies. Found new books to get lost in. I dusted off my love for music (when time allows). I took risks, scary risks, like moving to Taiwan to teach. Taking risks, while terrifying, proved to be life changing for me. It allowed me to find all of the pieces of me that were missing and start to put them back together.
I’m not saying you need to move across the world like I did, but find something out of your comfort zone. Set realistic goals for yourself. Give yourself timelines and some pressure to achieve these goals. Eat healthier. Work out more. I’m not saying you need to become a body builder, but even a thirty-minute walk around the neighborhood or ten-minute yoga class truly allows you to realize who you are and who you want to be. Keep a journal. If you’re feeling angry or stressed, write about it. Getting it out of your system frees your mind and lets you not dwell on the situation. Feeling inspirational? Write that also! Find a new hobby. I began knitting whenever I felt stressed and the repetitive motion and sounds truly relaxes me. Baking also does this for me, but this isn’t always convenient to do like a craft or book.
Most importantly-disconnect from social media and technology. I’m not saying completely, but even putting your phone on airplane mode at night (your alarm will still sound-I promise) allows your mind to relax. Facebook, while it’s amazing at connecting you with people you’ve lost touch with or who live in other places in the world, is toxic. It’s a constant need to instantaneous approval from strangers. The people that matter are the people you talk to on a regular basis, the ones who will be there for you when it’s needed-not just for extra likes on a photo.
If you’ve made it this far, I truly hope that some of the things I said hit home for you. Take it from someone who spent 25 years miserable and feeling alone and like an outsider. If I didn’t take risks towards making myself happy, I never would be in the place I am now. My happiness won’t look like yours, but maybe some of my advice can help you to find your own happiness. I am always available as a nonjudgmental listener. Sometimes that’s all you need, a stranger to listen to you and make you feel as though everything will be alright, but it will be because you are a beautiful person with the world left to see and happiness to achieve.