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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

If no one’s told you this before it’s not selfish to put yourself first. It is not selfish to stand up for yourself. It is not selfish to set boundaries. It is not selfish to end relationships that are no longer serving you. It is not selfish to know your worth. I have been in situations where I have placed others’ needs above my own. Times when I valued others’ opinions above my own. It took years to unlearn the people-pleasing tendencies ingrained in me as a child. At the time it seemed easier to just brush past things that made me uncomfortable just to avoid conflict. I have learned that sometimes confrontation is necessary. Being assertive is different than being rude. More often than not, opening a line of communication is the best way to prevent misunderstanding. 

Growing up I had a difficult childhood, to say the least. At age nine I was diagnosed with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. For years I attempted to ignore my problems because there was comfort in the discomfort. The familiarity of my worries felt easier than implementing any changes. I also didn’t know any better. I was young and not equipped with the skills to cope with things that felt out of my control. I would do anything I could to not talk about what I was feeling. I thought that expressing my emotions was a sign of weakness, and I didn’t like the idea of vulnerability. I didn’t want to seem like a burden, especially when certain people in my life made it seem like my anxiety wasn’t valid. I was told I was overreacting, being too sensitive, or that I needed to grow up. I started to take these words as fact. I never said anything back, allowing the words to wash over me. I didn’t have the confidence to fight back, instead, I took this as evidence that no one cared enough to listen to me. Looking back, I now know this wasn’t true, but the seed of negativity was already planted in my head. 

Eventually, my emotions began to boil over. Instead of communicating when I had an issue I became sarcastic. This didn’t warrant the best response, but it felt better than silence. I started to learn the importance of using my voice. I may not have gone about it in the best way at first, but my communication skills have improved since then. Standing up for yourself and setting boundaries with others is one of the most important things I have learned. Despite this, setting a boundary doesn’t give you the right to be rude. Speaking from past experience expressing your boundaries honestly receives the best reaction. If you avoid communication it often leads to resentment that can be more harmful in the long run. If you start an argument the other party will feel attacked and they will be less likely to understand your concerns. While certain behaviors might not be intentional, you have to be aware of the repercussions of your actions and the actions of others. If someone chooses to ignore your boundaries they are not worth your time. I believe that actions speak louder than words. You can say you are going to change your behavior but this can only be proven through actions. People are their actions. How a person acts and reacts in situations says a lot about their character. If someone truly cares for you they will respect you in all regards, and you should do the same for those you care about. 

If someone is not showing you the level of respect you deserve, it is okay to end that relationship. Whether it is romantic, platonic, or familial letting go of someone that no longer has a place in your life can be worthwhile. This can be disappointing to accept, but holding onto something that does not serve you can cause you to miss out on new opportunities. It is not selfish to want the best for yourself, and if letting go leads to better experiences why wouldn’t you want that? Life is about living and if you’re stuck in the past you won’t be able to live in the present. If someone in your life is unsure about whether or not they want you in it, make that decision for them. You are worth so much more than being someone’s maybe. Obviously, this is easier said than done. We’re all human. It’s unrealistic to think that this is a black-and-white concept. Everyone is different and each situation is different. I have come to realize that if something or someone is meant to be in my life it will work out in the end. This change of perspective has helped me to not worry about the “what ifs” of life. At the end of the day, whatever happens, happens and all I can do is hope that everything will work out how it’s meant to. I don’t want to waste my time worrying about what could have happened if I had done something differently. The truth is, most of the time there is nothing you can do. Through difficult times it’s important to be kind to yourself. At the end of the day, you’re the person you spend the most time with, and time is the most valuable thing we have. It’s the one thing we can never get back. If someone is not valuing your time they are wasting it. Moving on from the past is not cruel, it’s a redirection of your energy to things that deserve it.  

Our time on earth is limited which is a bitter pill to swallow. Knowing this I don’t want to waste my time on things out of my control. I tend to make things more complicated than they need to be, but I’m starting to realize nothing is ever that serious. If you think about it, many things are out of our control, and even though relinquishing that control is difficult (trust me I know) sometimes it’s all you can do. Not everything is going to work out, and that’s okay. I think there is strength in staying hopeful and believing everything will be okay even when life feels out of control. Just because you are alone, that does not mean you are lonely. It means you get the opportunity to know who you are as an individual and to enjoy your own company. It is about staying true to yourself. It is about knowing when you have put your best effort into something, but that you can’t control the outcome. It is about what you do for yourself and choosing to do the things that bring you joy. 

Learning to trust my own judgment was exhausting, but so beneficial. I had to learn that my voice is important and that finding people who are willing to listen is equally as important. Finding people who value you and know that you value them is one of the best things I’ve done. This is all based on my personal experiences, but in my short life, I have realized that intrinsically people are very similar. In the end, we all just want to be happy, and if putting yourself first is a way to find that happiness I hope you can find a way to make that happen.  Happiness is about you. For me, it’s about the little things. A good cup of coffee in the morning. My favorite song coming on shuffle. Laughing with my friends. Watching the sunset and realizing how small you really are. Without those small reminders, you will lose sight of the big things in life. 

Camryn Licata is a Freshman at the University of Central Florida. She is an English Literature major with a Mass Media minor. Camryn is from New York and loves going to art museums. She also enjoys reading, writing, coffee, and going to concerts.