In my last post I spoke about the personal journey I have walked since deciding to re-enroll in college in 2010. (Thank you for all your sweet responses, friends!) Below are five of the most important lessons I have learned during the ups and downs of the past three years, things that will perhaps help you on your own journey.
- Trust others. It can be absolutely terrifying to expose oneself and one's secrets, but the reward of being embraced and supported is humbling and healing. Find people you can open up to; it will bring you closer.
- Enforcing boundaries is not being unkind. Setting boundaries is something I am still working on, hugely, but I think that having boundaries and learning when to say yes or no is very important to my own happiness. Others also appreciate directness and honesty.
- Don't apologize for your feelings. Feeling guilty for your feelings, on top of whatever emotions you are experiencing, will diminish your joy or increase your sorrow. Be gentle with yourself, but be gentle with others involved, too.
- You have no control over whether others are happy or not. Conforming to others' expectations is a project that will inevitably end in failure, for you simply cannot control the things others experience on a daily basis that change impact their mood. To try to do so is to sacrifice one's own life. Similarly, others cannot promise you your own happiness. Instead, choose those things that will make you happy and pursue them with all your heart.
- You-ness is something unchanging. Extraneous factors like credentials, others' opinions or expectations, your past, your career, your talents, and your social status have nothing to do with the essence of you: take them all away, and you will still be there. You are always and forever a good person, loved, and whole. (Remember that this is true for others, too.)