"A secret to happiness is letting every situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be, and then making the best of it"
When I was little, I was always happy. I was that six year old who would never stop talking about anything and everything that came to my mind. My father was in the military so my family was always moving, we never stayed in one place. It was always new friends, a new school, a new place to explore and make our own. I loved moving around because it brought me and my family closer together. Usually you'd think moving would be hard for such a young girl but I adored every part of it. I never wanted to stop going to new places and starting new lifestyles, until my dad retired from the navy. Then, the house that my family moved into when I was 10 years old is the one I'm sitting in right now, writing this article. Needless to say, my childhood happiness got stomped on when I realized we'd be staying in this town for all of my teenage years.
Now, I started 5th grade when we moved and being young and happy, making friends in a new school was a breeze. Although, after that easy transition came middle school. I'm sure anyone and everyone can agree with me that middle school is just 3 years of torture and gossip. I met my best friend on one of the first days of 6th grade, and she is still standing by my side today as we go into senior year. So, other than the embarrassing crushes, hot pink braces, and terrible gym classes, I like to think my middle school career was pretty successful because of the life long friendships that I have built from it.
Then, we get into high school. And high school is a funny story. My freshman year I didn't really have any friends other than the only four people I had socialized with in middle school. I spent most of 9th grade hiding behind a textbook in the back of class, praying the teacher never called on me or acknowledged my existence. I was still happy of course; I was just a little shy. Okay, very shy. I really didn't know how to talk to other people and spent way too many lunch hours in a bathroom stall. I always told myself, tomorrow is a new day and sophomore year is going to be so much better. Boy, was I wrong.
Going into my 2nd year of high school, I surrounded myself with negative people who had very different personalities than mine. I dated a guy who put me into a dark place with myself and I ended up thinking some terrible thoughts that make me cringe even today. I just wasn't me, I knew that much. But I kept going along with these toxic people because I felt like I couldn't control my own emotions. I felt what other people wanted me to feel, rather than what I wanted to feel. And all I wanted to feel was happy again. Although, I learned that it's so hard to find happiness when you are in a place where everyone is focused on pushing you down, including yourself. Sophomore year had gotten so bad to the point where I ended up physically abusing my body. I had lost about 15 pounds in less than 2 months because I had so much anxiety built up in me that eventually I just lost my appetite. I didn't notice the weight loss either until my friends pointed it out one day, and that was when everything started becoming realistic. I saw what was happening to me and my surroundings and I wanted to put an end to it. Yet, every time I tried, it just kept getting worse and worse. I think my lowest point was when I felt so awful about my situation that I cut myself on my hips one night. I had only done it because I had heard about all the other people that I was close to doing it so I thought that it was a way to make the pain stop. And it wasn't. In fact it just caused me even more pain. To this day, I still remember how hopeless I felt sitting in my counselor's office with my mom next to me, crying her eyes out. I had been so focused on my own pain that I didn't realize how it was affecting the people around me. I had never felt more lost. After seeing the look on my mother's face, I knew I never wanted to see that disappointment again. So, I just kept putting on a smile for weeks on end until I realized that wearing a smile and faking a laugh will not bring me to actual, genuine happiness. And if I wanted to work towards a happier life then I would have to put the happiness in myself. So, when I made that realization, everything started to look up again.
I broke up with the guy I had been dating and tried to erase any other negative energy that surrounded me. When the new year came along, I decided to focus solemnly on myself and my well being. I think it's very important for us, as humans, to spend time on ourselves. One of my favorite quotes I live by is "Try to love yourself as much as you want someone else to". It's human nature to want to feel loved and cared for by other people, but sometimes we depend on others so much that we lose the love and affection that we're supposed to show ourselves. I lost myself for a very long time because I was so caught up in helping my friends with all of their problems; and in the midst of it all, I forgot that I had my own problems and my own health to take care of. Once I started paying more attention to myself, I had become so much happier with my life. I gained the weight back to where I was healthy again and I started to compliment myself more and more each day.
Once junior year rolled around, I was a happy camper. I built so many wonderful relationships with friends who I care so much about. I have 7 beautiful girls in my life who have helped me grow and continue to shape me into who I am today. Of course, 11th grade did have it's rocky moments. Silly high school drama and failed tests that had me doubting my chances of getting into any college ever (but I'm sure we've all been there at one point or another). Overall though, it was the year I had found pure happiness in my life. I was comfortable with being myself, in my own skin and living by my own rules and expectations.
I'm just about to go into my senior year of high school, and I can honestly say that this is the happiest I have ever been. I have incredible friends, a loving family and an amazing boyfriend who supports me in everything I do. Preparing for college is very exciting and I cannot wait to see what my last year is going to bring. I've trained my mind to see the good in everything and everyone. I've learned to radiate positivity wherever I go, and to approach every situation with an optimistic point of view.
If I were to give any advice to anyone who is trying to find happiness in their lives, it be to count your rainbows instead of your thunderstorms. Focus on what is good because there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy. As humans, we tend to get cynical and complain when life is bitter to us. Rather than shutting down, we should say "thank you" and grow from our bad experiences. Not everyday is going to bring us something amazing; some days are going to hurt like hell. But it's all about how you react to that pain and how you learn from it. Don't take anyone or anything for granted because one day you're not going to have everything you base your life off of now. Ultimately, just be kind and weird and silly and quirky. Be everything that the world doesn't want you to be. And surround yourself with beautiful people who love you enough to where you start loving yourself just as much. The past is the past and there is no way to change it. So don't regret it. Learn from it. Grow from it. And love. Love with all of your damn heart. Everything else will fall into place. <3
"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine" - Anthony J. D'Angelo
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