Yesterday I reconnected on Facebook with one of my best friends from high school. He was the kind of friend who really got me. I have no idea how many tears I cried on his shoulder or how much time we spent just driving around not doing anything. He was unconditionally supportive and didn’t have that need to fix everything.
I have looked for him a few times over the years on Facebook and he just wasn’t there. Then yesterday he just pops up and we start chatting. We spent several minutes doing that exciting/awkward/interesting chat you do with people from your past. Are you still living in Denver? No, I’m in Houston. You? South Dakota. It looks like you have kids now. Yes, me too. Then he had to leave, but he asked me one more question. Are you as happy as you seem? And I replied without hesitating: I am. Really and truly. He said something along the lines of that’s awesome and sent his best wishes. I told him to be well and said goodbye.
What happened next took me off guard. I started thinking about happiness. I knew that my answer wasn’t a lie. I really am as happy as I could be with my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t have problems, but I wouldn’t change where I am right now for anything. I love spending my days helping my sweet girl learn and grow. I love the friends that surround us. I love my job. I love my husband. I started thinking about the insecure, eating disordered, depressed teenager he last knew me as. The last time he saw me I was caught up in my own mind, and while I may have appeared happy to some people, I was really a mess inside. What changed? It was more than growing up. More than having a family. More than getting out of the situation I was in.
I can’t say any one thing that made me happy. It was a gradual shift over years and years and to say there is one thing that changed my life would be incredibly over simplistic. But the biggest difference I can find from the high school me to the current me is self love. Before, I would let the world tell me how I should be. I relied on the attention of other people to tell me that I was ok. My actions were based on what I thought they wanted from me. If they just thought I was pretty enough, crazy enough, or unique enough to give me attention then I would know that I was good enough for them. Now I am more concerned with myself than others. Am I making choices that are in line with what I want from life? Am I good enough for me?
As crazy as it is, when I started living for me and loving myself, all of the things I craved before fell into place. I started exercising because it felt good. I loved running marathons and knowing that I could push myself to the limit. Because of this new passion, my body has become so much more beautiful than it ever could be from starving myself. I started a Fit4Mom franchise because I wanted to create an income while spending time with my daughter and showing her an active lifestyle. Because of my classes, I get to meet so many interesting people and I have made friendships I know will last a lifetime.
I guess without even realizing it, I’ve learned over the years that true beauty comes from within. Love yourself, and the rest will fall into place. People can tell when you are being genuine, and they will recognize when you are happy and they will be drawn to your positive energy. When you don’t spend so much time trying to figure out what the world wants from you and how to live up to those standards, you have a lot more time and energy to focus on creating the world you want to live in. Think about your life right now and ask yourself that important question he asked me. Are you as happy as you seem? Or are you spending a lot of your resources trying to convince people around you that you are worthy? What is one thing you can do today to make you happy with yourself? It’s hard at first, but think of a few things you love about yourself. Most importantly, do something every day that lines up with what you want out of life instead of what you think life wants out of you.