That’s the question I asked myself most of last year. I’ll be honest, part of the year I was just getting by. I would go to work and immediately come home to sit and watch TV. Or I was searching for a million different hobbies to help me pass the time. Luckily enough I ended up finding hobbies that I love and decided to stick with, while I also found hobbies that I hated and I curse to this day if I ever get asked to touch them again. Between the hobbies I enjoyed and the hobbies I didn’t, I started realizing how relaxed I was when I was focusing on doing what I wanted, rather than what others wanted me to do. 
Then the state started opening up and the restrictions were lifted a bit. It was like I was believing I could juggle having the same social life, and work-life I had before while also making time for my hobbies. And man o man was I wrong! Incredibly and stupidly wrong! I began battling with myself about what I needed to do vs what I was actually doing. I am a people pleaser so anytime anyone asked me if I wanted to do something I would say yes, even if I didn’t want to. 
 
I don’t know if there was a single moment that I realized what needed to happen. Maybe it was the stress hitting me, maybe it was me getting COVID so I had to quarantine and was forced back into lockdown. I don’t really know but regardless, I realized that my life needed a lot more balance. The balance between going out and having my time. 
 
So this year, I actually made sure I made time for both. I can’t say I have perfected this balancing act but I can say I am doing better. We are only 4 months into the year and I am already feeling more at peace and calmer. I have started meditating, I make an effort to journal almost every day, and I am watching what I eat more. 
 
The most important thing that I have started to do, is being kinder to myself. I’m not perfect and I find myself unhappy at times. But that is no reason to beat me up constantly. I need to be much kinder to myself but constantly. Not just once a day or once a week. But every time things are getting hard, and even when they are hard. Every time I start to become negative and start going down that rabbit hole, I take 3 deep breaths and say something kind to myself about myself. 
 
I am sure you are wondering what the results are, as I would be if I was on your side of the article. The results, for me, are beautiful. I am more myself than I have felt since I was a child. 
 
I don’t feel I have to apologize for being myself. I don’t feel like I have to explain what I do to anyone. I don’t even feel guilty for doing what I want to do anymore. Now to be clear, this is not a free pass to do whatever you want and to hurt others. This is the confidence to be yourself and believe you are doing the best you can with what you have. This is the confidence to know you only need to apologize to people when you hurt them, not for being who you are. I no longer feel guilty for telling people no when they ask to hang out. 
 
I feel empowered to be myself. I feel unapologetic for doing the things that bring me joy. I feel I am allowed to show who I am to the world. I feel that I am me again. I feel the empowerment of laughing so loudly and truly that inspires others to show their real laugh. I feel that no one’s comments can ruin me. I feel that I have the strength to stand up for myself. I feel me. But I can’t forget to keep doing what I am doing now. I have to and want to keep doing what got me to this place. If I don’t, then I won’t be the same person. 
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