Be your own hero!
Making a change can be a terrifying and exciting thing all at once. Cutting your hair or shaping your goatee, buying a new dress or even just rearranging your bookshelves. Change is as good as a holiday, as they say (who? Who knows!) But the point is, when we change something in our lives, it creates a sense of unbalance. That sense can be uncomfortable at first, feel off kilter but it can also be a comforting notion of taking control.
For most of my themed posts, I’ve spoken about taking ownership of emotions and strength in finding your own happiness. This post is no different. This is about making that change and being brave, allowing you to save yourself and allowing you to be happy. After all, we’re in control of our own happiness and realistically, we’re responsible for it too. While we’re all in varying situations at varying times in our lives, the idea that we need others to make us feel valuable, happy, worthy…transcends time, race, gender, occupation. Because of this, it is our duty, and ours alone to take ownership of that happiness and allow ourselves to be at peace.
For me there was always this overwhelming need to prove myself to others. Perhaps it started when I was a little immigrant ‘wog’ who’d been thrust into a westernized world I didn’t understand. During my first few weeks I was enrolled into prep, sent to an all English speaking school and sent to ESL. After a few weeks though, they moved me into a regular class because I’d picked the language up too quickly. Soon after that, I blitzed through piano and tennis faster than others at my age. I learned math and science quicker than my peers too. Then, I was expected to maintain that bar and suddenly people (teachers, my parents, friends) expected a certain level from me, and nothing less would suffice. Granted, this bar did help me ace school, achieve a lot of things my peers didn’t and eventually achieve the biggest goal I had—to publish a book. But this bar also came with its own set of challenges. I was forever expected to be the best, to get the A, to win the game, to nail the recital, to write one more book, to write the next one quicker. And on and on it went.
While the expectations were challenging and at times stressful, it was the correlation between “expectation met = happiness” that really made me suffer. I achieved the next A, I won the game, I nailed the recital and I did write one more book. I’d met expectations but I wasn’t happier. I had to really look at myself and unpack what it was that would make me happy. Eventually, I decided to make a change. Yes, I still love the challenge of setting myself tough goals and even higher bars, but it’s not for the win or for anyone else, it is for me. This change has set me on a new path, different, but equally if not more, satisfying. I peeled away those “expectation met = happiness” layers and I found myself working toward my goals with a new sense of excitement. There wasn’t that incessant voice of failure nagging away in the back of my head or the insidious whispering telling me I was going to fail. So what! If I fail, I pick up the pieces and try again. I don’t achieve that goal by a certain time, that’s fine, move it to the next year. It’s okay. And that change, was the best holiday I’ve ever had! It was the holiday that allowed me to celebrate the wins and actually enjoy my achievements and yes, I still plan the next project and work hard to get it up and running. And perhaps I haven’t learned how to slow down as much as I should, but it’s a work in progress and that’s okay.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that no one is responsible for my happiness just as no one can be held accountable for my wins or losses. It’s my responsibility to better myself and work toward my own goals. And if that means that I have to slow down, reshuffle and rethink my priorities then that’s what I’ll do. Because all of the things I do are for me, I’m the one who is allowed to decide when and how they’re done.
So don’t be afraid to take ownership of your happiness and be your own hero. You don’t need someone else to make you happy or brave or beautiful. You can do all of those things and more.
Just like you can be your own worst enemy, you can also be your own best friend.