There's a lot of things I've learned over the years, but one of the most important is how to put myself first. I've learned there are some things that I just do not have control over. I've learned that life happens how its supposed to happen - as in God does what he needs to do in order to put us where we need to be. And I've learned that there's only one person in charge of your happiness and that is yourself.
As this school year began, I found myself drowning, inevitably it seemed, in classes, homework, and articles I was writing for the school paper. Suddenly, my 9-5 summer job at my family's business became that which I consistently longed for. I thought that at least with that, I knew that by 5pm every day, I was able to do whatever I wanted with no extra responsibilities hanging over my head.
This past month, its been all about finding a balance. A balance between study, fun, my sorority, God, and working towards my future. I've felt like the world's been on my shoulders more often than not and I long for moments of silence where I can just let my mind rest easy with nothing to jostle my brain out of its leisure. As dramatic as it may seem, 4 weeks into school, I needed a break.
So Thursday night, I packed up a little bag and shoved my books and computer into the trunk of my car before making the hour and a half drive from Malibu back to Orange County. I slept soundly in my cozy little room, and spent the day with my family in the little town that brings so much joy into my heart. It's days like these where I am reminded how blessed I am to be only a drive away from the people and place I love most.
Which brings me back to the point of this post. This weekend, I did something for myself. I did something that I knew would alleviate my stresses and dissolve the tension and frustration I had been feeling over school and the amount of things going on around me. I was able to change my attitude and bring myself joy by putting myself first and doing what I needed to do in order to find my happy.
What I've learned this past year, especially while abroad, is that I have control. I have control over myself and who I am as a person. I have control over how I treat people and how I make others feel. I have control over the time I devote to those I love and the energy I put into the things I'm passionate about. But I don't have control over the people around me nor their choices or actions. I don't have control over how people treat me or perceive me. And as hard as that is for me to sometimes grasp, I know that its something I just have to accept.
And that is why I choose to put myself first. Who cares what anyone else thinks if I'm happy within myself? Too many people waste too much time and energy vying for control when its much better to just let go.
Contentment doesn't come unless you stop letting your situation and the people who surround you define who you are.
Life is made up of unexplainable trials and moments that we wish we could snap our fingers and make go away. But the reality of it is that we can't. And as hard as we hold on to the belief that we can fix it or if we had done just that one thing differently, things might have been different too, the more power such things have over us.
No one ever made it to the shore by just sitting in the boat waiting for the rows to row themselves. You have to work for your happiness. You have to actively set out each day to put joy first.
We can't control what happens to us – we can't change the past and we sometimes can't even change the present. But we can change our reaction to life – our reaction to each and every thing that's thrown our way. You have the power to make life what you want it to be if you put yourself first and guide your outlook toward positivity and joy in all things.