by USjournal Student Writer: Rebecca Darrup, Cross-Country Cowgirl
Are you settled in and ready for a new semester? Thankfully, I made it back to New Mexico (from Pennsylvania) in one piece, and my horses and the pup are adjusting well too. If you haven't made your travels yet, I hope they're safe and uneventful!
You can't fool the one in the mirror. Everybody else, but not the one in the mirror.
If you read my last article, and that quote sounds slightly familiar, that's good; this conversation with my Pap has still been on my mind quite a bit, obviously!
Sometimes, it can be really tough to look yourself in the eye at the end of the day when the rest of the world is pushing you in a million different directions. Success is valued above all other things, but what exactly is success? Isn't that up to each of us, individually, to decide? Society disagrees, sometimes our parents disagree, and maybe even our friends disagree. There are times that you debate with yourself what success means to you. In the little things or the big things, though, you have to decide what you consider accomplishment to be.
Over this summer, I started to realize how important it is to me to be a people-pleaser. This seemed ironic at first because people have a tendency to wear me out! The more I thought about it, though, I started to recognize that I feel so tired after dealing with lots of people because I am constantly trying to meet all the expectations that everyone has set for me.
Now, tell me how much sense that makes, exactly?
Life isn't about how you look in everyone else's eyes! What matters is that you can look your mirror image in the eye at the end of the day. I'm not saying to throw it all to the wind, be disrespectful to the people in your life who helped you to get where you are, and say that you're doing what you want to, when you want to, and forget anything else. As you start to step out into the world, you've got to make the best choices for yourself and put yourself first. That doesn't mean be selfish, or make choices that benefit you at someone else's expense, but it does mean that you're going to make choices that other people aren't necessarily going to like. My parents and I don't see eye-to-eye on everything, and there are some choices I've made that they don't like. Does that mean they don't like me? No. Other people can dislike your choice without disliking you.
Does that mean everyone will think that way? Nope. Not everyone is going to like you, and while that's a little tough to accept sometimes, that is a part of life. Going back to the same book The Outsiders from last time, the narrator and main character, Ponyboy, is pondering life while stuck on bed rest, and thinks, I'd rather have anybody's hate than their pity. Hate is a pretty strong word, for sure, but pity... that sticks around a whole lot longer.
I don't like conflict with other people, but I'm learning that I'd much rather be true to myself and have others dislike me, than feel like a fake and have everyone love someone who they think is 'me', only to pity me when they realize I couldn't be true to who I am.
I don't remember where I read it, maybe in a caption on Instagram, but Plato is quoted as saying, The most virtuous are those who content themselves with being virtuous without seeking to appear so.
Reread that a couple times; I know I had to! The point is, you can do the right thing, the thing that allows you to sleep at night, without everyone else thinking so. When you are living as the best version of yourself, you'll realize that you're not concerned about how good you look to the rest of the world. Beyond that, how often do you do something that makes you feel so proud of yourself that you can't even put it into words? Is it worth trying to find the words to share it with someone, or are you better off writing it in a journal or just holding it in your heart and your memories?
It can be something so small to help someone else, or maybe just a moment in nature that steals your breath and reminds you how small you are in the grand scheme of things. The pictures you try to snap of sunsets to post on social media... Do they ever turn out like the real thing? Only on some very rare occasions! I take those pictures all the time, don't get me wrong, and I'm not saying don't take them. Before you do, though, consider this: Even if you get the right picture, does it need to be shared with the world, or is it something that you'll lose the joy in by trying to show others what you see, and worrying if they'll see the beauty that you do?
When you look in the mirror at the end of the day, those beautiful moments are what gives you the light in your eyes, the smile crinkles around your eyes, and the glow of someone who's at peace with who they are.
Let yourself be who you truly are. That will take some time to discover; that's how life goes. Patience is a virtue (as I am not-so-kindly reminded at times). When you check the mirror before bed, are you proud of who you are? Can you look at yourself and smile? Find your own definition of success and of joy, and chase those things down. Enjoy life and let it take the time it needs to show you who you are!
Here are Rebecca's other posts, in case you missed them:
Best of luck in all your endeavors,
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