My Path To Happiness

Lana - Brooklyn, New York
Entered on March 8, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: setbacks

About two years ago my mother and father sat me and my sister down for a brief but memorable conversation. As my parents called us into the living room, I kind of knew that this meeting would be the last one the four of us had as a family. While they broke the news of their plan to get a divorce, I felt as if I was watching the scene take place on a movie screen. It didn’t seem real to me. I numbly accepted the news, basically unaffected. If anyone would have asked me how I was feeling, (which plenty of people did), I would have honestly responded that I didn’t really care, and that I was perfectly fine. After explaining this to a multitude of concerned people, I began to believe it myself. Despite my sister’s emotional meltdowns for the following year, and her many accusations that I “was clearly in denial” I continued to tell others, and myself, that I had no feelings or opinion about my parents’ separation.

Looking back on how well I convinced myself that I didn’t care definitely scares me, especially now that I know how many feelings I had suppressed. Soon enough, the pressure of “being fine” became too much and I cracked. As soon as I finally decided to open up, I too became an emotional wreck. Not only did my feelings about the divorce spill out in a flood of relief, but also I was expressing emotions from long ago—reasons why I act the way I do gushed from inside me. Every feeling of resentment, guilt, anger, jealousy and hate, every reaction I ever had, every insecurity I ever felt was beginning to make sense–released from a prison that I didn’t even know was there. It was liberating. And terrifying. I had become so self-aware so quickly that I was simply overwhelmed. I saw all of these problems that I needed to fix, and how difficult each one would be to mend. I had to change my entire way of thinking. I had to rethink my behavior towards others and towards myself. I had to take a deep breath and take one step at a time.

“One step at a time” became my motto. Before this epiphany, I was infamously known as the daughter who dwelled upon unhappy thoughts. I was constantly complaining that I had no friends, that nobody loved me, and that my life was a miserable wreck. Who would have thought that these feelings originated from a deep insecurity? I was looking to others for a sense of acceptance and love, when I should have been looking to myself. It was insane! I was asking friends to do the impossible: make me happy. I wanted them to fill the void left by my insecurities—a job only I could accomplish. This is why I never felt like I was receiving enough love from my friends. So many friendships and it was my fault for their failures. I had to learn to love myself, and not only the qualities I liked about myself. I had to learn to love all of my flaws. Now I remind myself that even when I act insecure, or needy, or irrational, I am still a good person, and I love who I am.

Obviously self-improvement is not as easy as saying “I love you” to your reflection. It is a life long project and a very difficult task. I’m constantly forgetting to be positive, forgetting to accept my flaws and be kind to myself. I’m only just beginning to get to know who I am. I’m still unsure about when or how I’ll reach my goals and what kind of person I am going to be. The only thing I know will always be true is that as long as I am open and honest with myself, and I accept and acknowledge my feelings, I’m on the right path towards a happier life.