For years I struggled with finding and keeping some level of inner peace. I spent so much time working for validation from my parents and others in my circle that I completely forgot to live up to the standards that I created for myself. I was consistently stressed as I carried around the burden of not being able to fail without criticism.
I remained in relationships that no longer had my best interest at heart because I worried about the reactions of others. How would they see me if this failed? How will I survive by myself? I didn’t know how to change a tire. I have never taken my vehicle for an oil change. How would I survive without a second income? Who would protect me? I allowed the fear of hitting the reset button to completely hinder my personal growth. As years passed, I realized that I was unhappy with who I was. I did not possess inner peace. After another lengthy “discussion” with my parents about my degree concentration in college I realized that I needed to make some changes in my life.
After migrating to the US in 2007 I enrolled in community college to save on tuition. The intention was to study for two years then transfer to a 4 year institution. My brother was at the same school, and he chose to study civil engineering. He has always been the numbers guy. He is calculated and approaches everything from a logical standpoint. I immediately pictured him in that field. I chose biology with the intention to eventually become a dermatologist. I wouldn’t say I was pressured to take that route, but even though I made straight A’s I was never passionate about the field. We were socialized to believe that there is a certain prestige that comes with being doctors, lawyers, engineers etc., while other areas of study is seen as degrees with less clout. I chose the field for that reason. I wanted my parents to be able to say “my daughter is a doctor”. That tunnel vision made me miserable. What is my passion? I absolutely love Anatomy and Human Physiology, but I am more interested in the mind body connection. I want to understand the ‘whys” rather than the ‘hows’.
I decided to change majors…Psychology and African Studies with the intention to focus on mental health illnesses in people of African descent. This time I didn’t ask permission. I left my partner. I didn’t apologize for it. I removed people from my life who no longer aligned with the plans I had for myself, and came to terms with the fact that sharing DNA doesn’t mean I have to provide blind loyalty. I developed a thicker skin at work and also spoke up when I felt the need to. I reconciled all the other issues that I had with myself. I became comfortable with my flaws. I created a standard for myself that was not hedged on the way anyone felt about me. I held myself and others accountable. I made a decision to put my needs ahead of everyone’s for the first time in my life.
It is difficult to put into words the contentment I feel. I truly believe that now I am finally heading in the right direction. I am at peace with my decisions and I understand it is completely fine to live on my own terms.
Be selfish. Love yourself FIRST. You will make mistakes. It is ok.