1. You were not born to play the martyr. Your tombstone is not meant to say you suffered with a smile. Yes, you can and will make sacrifices for the people who hold your heart, but your whole life should not be a sacrifice. Your existence should not be a collection of favors for others, especially those who have no plans to repay you. Your selflessness is sweet to a point, but you shouldn’t sleepwalk through your days without pausing to question whether you’re actually chasing happiness or are only chasing approval. Reevaluate your priorities. Stop making decisions for others and start choosing yourself.
2. It’s not selfish to want the best for yourself. You need to learn how to separate empathy and kindness from passivity and self-sacrifice. You’ve spent your whole life choosing others over yourself, viewing their needs as more important than your own. You’ve spent countless hours trying to please them, minimizing your feelings to make them more comfortable, pretending everything is fine to avoid being a burden, clamping your mouth shut to keep the peace. But it’s time to choose yourself. To shed the misconception that chasing happiness is selfish, that asking for more than the bare minimum is a sign of greed. You’re allowed to pursue your potential. Don’t stay stagnant out of habit, or trap yourself in an existence that makes you itch for more. You can break free from the box you’ve spent your whole life inside. After all this time, you can finally choose yourself. Choose your happiness. Choose your truth.
3. You don’t have to be a pleasure to have in class anymore. You don’t have to make yourself palatable to outsiders in order to have worth. Keeping the peace and being the bigger person are pretty terms to trick you into being walked over without raising a complaint. But there is power in your footsteps as they walk out the door. In your voice as your mouth forms the word no. Even though you’ve been conditioned to seek out validation from those surrounding you, to be the good little soldier who never makes others uncomfortable, your comfort matters too. You shouldn’t feel compelled to sit silently while your soul is crying out. You’re allowed to put your foot down, to walk away, to disagree. Enforce your boundaries, don’t bulldoze them because you still want to be seen as a pleasure.
4. If they don’t respect your boundaries, they don’t respect your peace of mind. They don’t respect your core beliefs. They don’t respect you as a living, breathing human being. And they shouldn’t get the benefit of being around you.
5. When you were growing up, one simple rule was instilled in you: The only way to discover true happiness is to be yourself. But then they amended it. Don’t be too clingy. Don’t be too cold. Don’t be a crybaby. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t veer from the norm in any visible way. Don’t do anything that might dare draw attention to yourself. Blend in. Lie. Pretend. Make others comfortable while you suffer in silence. If you’re still figuring out who you are in your twenties, your thirties, and beyond, you can’t blame yourself. You were never given the tools to understand your feelings, or the space to explore them. You tried so hard to fit into the mold of what others wanted you to be, to match the timeline you were prescribed at birth, that you never followed your own path, never asked yourself what would make you happy if no one else was watching. But it’s never too late to reprioritize and reroute. You can start today. You can start right now.