By Kathryn Cambrea
Amidst everything going on in your life, I want to remind you to take the time to think about just one thing: yourself.
Am I aware that this sounds cliché? Absolutely. Now more than ever, people are encouraged to love themselves. However, I frequently observe people growing overwhelmed, stressed, and disheartened about little things. I observe people becoming preoccupied with how others view them. I notice people pretending to be a certain way, forcing themselves into an image someone else would love, only to be hurt in the end, because they don’t fit that image. Why? That image is not them, and never will be. You have to be you, and you have to be happy.
Never forget your potential. Never forget your worth. Never forget that you have survived change, adversity, and hardship, and here you are still standing, still breathing, still living. No matter what anyone has said to you or about you.
Change can come before you have the time to prepare for it. It comes unexpected and many times comes unwanted. An alarming assignment arrives. A person intrudes and enters the script of your life. A person who you thought loved you leaves before you could ever know why.
Your life will always change. Yet, you can adapt. Not only can you adapt, but you have the power to do something that will give you some degree of consistency through the unpredictable and varying waves of life, and that is to be happy.
I encourage you to put away your phone for just a second. The speed at which notifications penetrate your conscience may contribute to any negative feelings you may be experiencing. I guarantee you that if you just keep some time away from your cell phone, you will not be wasting time worrying about “everyone else.” It does not matter what they are doing. Stop what you are doing, which is looking at them, and do something for yourself: smile.
Also, I recommend changing your routine. Yes, change can be good! You do not have to go to the level of changing your entire diet or lifestyle. We all heard that “a little change goes a long way.” And it’s true. If changing these parts of your life appeals to you and your happiness, do so in small steps. Keep it as simple as you possibly can. Remember: your goal is to smile, not to give yourself something else to worry about.
Ditch the caffeine temporarily. What? Surprisingly, you don’t need your coffee to function. I happen to love coffee because it gives me an initial instantaneous boost of positivity. However, caffeine is a stimulant. I cannot always handle hyperactivity because I need time for the very opposite: to unwind. Lowering my caffeine consumption made me proud of myself and happy. I chose not to drink coffee for an entire week and opted for water instead. Now, there are days where I don’t have any coffee, and rather than stare into a cup as the coffee vanishes, I find myself spending that time resting, talking to people I care about, and just having a laugh.
A change can be as simple as going outside. I know that it’s winter, so it is not always ideal to spend time in the cold at this time of year. But I found that going for a walk, even if it is just for 15 minutes, instantly elevates my mood and alleviates stress. When I walk, I am accomplishing something. I own the action and the end result; I do it for me. So it makes me happy.
Surround yourself with people who love you. Immediately, when I started college, I met people who reciprocate the kindness I see in myself. In high school, I plunged into my studies and was concerned with what others thought of me. I didn’t take as much time to love myself and smile as I should have. As a college student, I have achieved a perfect balance of academics, social interaction, and rest, and I could not be happier. Why? I am finally thinking about me. And that’s something to smile about.