Becoming a Better Person

magnoliaIt’s very easy for me looking back to identify the negative attitudes and thoughts that used to contribute to my unhappiness. My behavior was governed mostly by the feeling that I was owed something. I would become frustrated and irritable, going out of my way to do anything that would not lead to my own immediate gratification. These unhealthy expectations led me to take advantage of my parents and peers without ever rationalizing it to myself. I figure ignorance fueled a lot of the nasty attitudes I fostered.

I was also horribly depressed. I only had one very good friend at the time, and for two years I maintained an unhealthy relationship with a boy as equally as awful as me. I thought a lot about suicide, a notion that has since grown far away and alien. The cycle I have since identified consisted of doing something wrong, berating myself over it, and then continuing to act wrongly due to the absence of any self-will or accountability. I think also that internally, I noted myself as the villain on more than one occasion, but I suppressed the idea in my continued attempt to avoid any responsibility for the way I felt.

But, as luck would have it, my epiphany came on the heels of my relationship’s dissolution. The realizations were quick and successive, such that I felt like an entirely different person in only a matter of hours. I realized my happiness was my own responsibility, nobody else’s. I realized no one owed me anything, and likewise, I did not owe anything to anybody else. I realized I would never wake up suddenly with better self-esteem, better relationships, and better prospects. I had to cultivate them on my own terms.

So I did that. It started by smiling more often, trying to oil the cogs of a rarely used machine. I tried to engage people in positive ways, making small talk with the cashier or asking the telemarketer how her day is going. I also started ending my sentences on an upward inflection to shake the usual sarcasm out of the words, which led to my ability to speak with more confidence, enthusiasm and sincerity. I try to be kind to everyone in small ways, even if it just means that my outward personality relays more openness than before.

Change came immediately. I made new friends every day, and the friendships I already had became stronger and more intimate. I met my current boyfriend soon after, and I learned through the experience how to foster a mutually beneficial and healthy relationship. With mental health in check and my priorities stabilized, I focused more on physical health and began losing weight and gaining energy, and I eventually found my first and second jobs and began tutoring grade-schoolers every Saturday.

The world is very cyclical as far as I can tell. Negativity begets negativity, positivity begets positivity.