Finding Inner Peace

The topic at hand is one that I have struggled for many years with. Behind this seemingly confident woman is an equally as shy and doubtful one. Each day, I struggle with finding my own inner peace, the point of ultimate happiness and contentment with myself. I struggle with my own demons, the ones telling me I’m not good enough for anyone or anything in this world. These doubts make finding my inner peace that much harder.

I decided to write about this topic because a good friend of mine is struggling with finding theirs; they are just about to begin on the journey to find it. I keep reassuring them that they will get there, but the change has to start with them.

The hardest thing for one to do is admit they have a problem, but that’s when a solution begins to arise. And most of the time, it’s not you, but your surroundings and the people you surround yourself with.

To be quite honest, I had a falling out with two of my really good friends my junior year of high school, and it was probably the best thing that could have happened. I will admit that it made my junior year really rough, but it showed me what I wanted and that I shouldn’t rely solely on people to make me happy. Looking back, I realize it was better for both parties to cut ties, as we were just holding each other back from the people that we could become.

Others shouldn’t influence your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. The moment you let them do that, you lose all self-control. Oftentimes, we think that our friends won’t be happy with our decisions, but the only person that matters is us. We need to be the one happy with our decisions, because at the end of the day, it’s our happiness at stake.

Another event that has helped me to find inner peace is the trip I took to Greece after my senior year in high school. As many of you know, I went to IV, a summer camp for Greek Orthodox youth. The one thing that rings true for me, even today, is to “drop your cool card.” This phrase, as lame as it sounds, really helped me to open up and to just be myself. I didn’t have to put on this mask to get people to like me. I learned that by being myself, I will find that group who likes me for me.

This resonated so true my freshman year of college. The friends I made when I started college, I made because I was true to myself. I didn’t have to act like anyone else but myself. My most distinct memory of this was when a group of kids from my floor and I went to see a drive-in movie and I decided to go in yoga pants, a slouchy shirt with my glasses on and hair in a messy bun. The only that ran through my mind was “Who cares what I look like? If they want to be friends with me, I should be able to dress like this and no one should care.”

After the honeymoon period of freshman year wore off, I realized I was miserable. I wasn’t being treated like I deserved to be treated.  I realized this was due to the people I was surrounding myself with. As much as it hurt, I had to cut the cord on some friendships with people I thought I would be life-long friends with. As much as I wanted to still be friends with them, I couldn’t bear to put myself through any more misery. Slowly, I began to cut the cord, seeing if they would notice and fight for me. They didn’t.

I stopped caring about what others thought about me and what I did. I was tired of having anxiety over what I thought people thought about my appearance or my opinion. As Taylor Swift states in her song “Shake it Off,” “haters gonna hate.” And that was my mentality going into my second year of college. That was when I began to find my inner peace.

I threw myself into my work. Last fall, without considering it myself, I was asked by my former editor  of the magazine I work at if I wanted to apply for editor-in-chief of the magazine for this school year. Flattered, I applied and got the job.

I’ve never been the one to call the shots for anything before. I’ve always had to answer to a superior. It is intimidating to make decisions, no matter how small because they will always have an impact on someone, good or bad. I’m always afraid of making the wrong decision, which has created a lot of self-doubt at times in my head.

As a journalist, you are either everyone’s best friend, or their worst enemy. You will have people praising you for making them look good, or yelling at them for making them look bad. It teaches you to be strong and to be confident in your decisions and back them, no matter the circumstance.

Sitting as the current editor-in-chief of a publication is not the easiest task in the world. While you get praise, you also get criticism. You have to deal with conflicts that arise, though they may not be directly your fault. But because your name is on the publication, it ends up being your fault. And when it is, it can shake you the most.

Where I’m at allows me a lot of creative freedom with the magazine. So naturally, I am changing the whole system and trying something new. It is something that takes a lot of courage, despite the fear that goes along with it, but I know that I can pull it off and it’ll be worth it in the end.

Sometimes, this self-doubt finds its way into my planning for the future. I always think about if I made the right decision in terms of my college or my major or even if I have the appropriate skill set to land a job after I graduate. I have to constantly take a step back and remind myself that I am good enough and that I will do just fine in the future.

Like I said, finding inner peace is a constant battle.

Sitting here, I realize that I have come a long way in the last four years. I’ve found my support group of healthy friendships with people who I feel like I can be myself around, respected and liked because of it. I feel confident in my role as editor and know that if I make a mistake, it is ok. I’m finally starting to be happy with myself, both physically and mentally. And most importantly, I am unapologetically myself.

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