I used to think that being popular and having lots of friends would make me happy. I used to think that being successful and making money would make me feel self-confident. I used to think that if I would have a boyfriend, I would be able to experience what love feels like. It was only once I had all those things that I realized none of them would ever be able to give me the happiness I was searching for.
I wanted other people to validate me and outside circumstances to fall into place so that I could be happy.
Good grades, popularity & boyfriends
When I was in 5th grade I was desperate for good grades, so that I could show them to my parents and make them proud. I thought that academic achievements would earn me love and approval.
When I was in 7th grade I had no friends, I used to eat my lunch in the school bathrooms and spent free periods in the computer lab instead of hanging out with other people. I used to read books like “how to be popular” and prayed every night that I could be part of the “cool kids” in my school. I wanted to be liked and accepted because I thought it would make me happy.
When I was in 9th grade I really wanted a boyfriend. I kept picking myself apart, trying to figure out why no boy seemed to be interested in me. I was certain that once I finally had a boyfriend I would feel loved, accepted and good about myself.
Last year I thought that quitting university would throw my life upside down. Running around without a solid plan would not only make my life chaotic- what would other people think about me? How was I supposed to be happy without any security in my life?
Now I think that I need to be prettier, thinner, richer, cleverer and more successful to be happy. I need a university degree, security and a place to call home to be happy. I can only be happy once I have my life figured out.
The turning point
Now I think again.
I think again and I realize that I am enough and there are only 3 aspects I need to be happy.
One person: myself.
Only decision: Choose happiness every day.
One action: Live my life in alignment with who I truly am and do my best to feel good and do as much as I love as possible.
I was wrong in the past.
My parents loved me every day from the bottom of their heart, no matter how good my grades were. I wish I could tell my younger self this.
Those popular kids and bullies from school, now ask me for advice on how I do what I do. I wish I would have spent less time in school worrying about other people liking me and instead focus on my hobbies and interests instead.
Now I have a boyfriend, but his affection and love mean nothing unless I am at peace with myself and I love myself as best as I can each day.
No one else will ever make you happy unless you know how to do it yourself. It’s not selfish or self-centred– it is necessary. If you don’t put yourself, your dreams and your own happiness first you will never have happy relationships with others and no outside circumstance will ever give you the happiness that you desire.
When you are happy with yourself and your life, everything else will fall into place. Your relationships with others will be fulfilling, you will be successful in what you do and good things will show up in your life.
It’s actually quite simple because instead of trying to control everyone and everything around you, which is an impossible task, you simply start focusing on the only person you have control over: yourself. It’s not about perfection, it’s about trying. The first step on the path of seeking happiness is simply understanding that you are responsible for your own happiness and that you are capable of bringing so much love and magic into your life. I am not there yet, but I try my best. Take care of yourself, of your dreams and of the love you have to offer. The search for happiness begins with yourself.
These pictures were taken whilst we were watching the sunset at the beach in Cape Town. I want to share them because I was genuinely happy in that moment. These are authentic and unposed.