Being in college, you learn to have so much independence from being on your own to simply hold yourself reliable. With that independence comes learning to do what’s best for yourself. Having independence or even learning to put yourself first might seem a bit odd or even scary for some but it’s necessary to do what’s best for yourself.
Accepting and embracing independence is a step everyone must take in their lives. Some people welcome it and some are scared at the thought of it. Despite it being a universal experience, it does take some courage to accomplish, and it’s never easy. Especially now, in a college setting, everywhere you look people are growing into a more independent version of themselves. Yes, our primary responsibility in college is to gain an education with a degree, but we also learn so much beyond our professors’ lesson plans. Figuring out how to carry ourselves without the guidance of a parent, sibling or any kind of authority is more complex than people make it out to be.
I always thought growing up that independence was just moving out of your parents’ house and somehow managing to keep yourself afloat financially and emotionally. I now know it is much more than that. It’s letting go of the safety net that your parents have metaphorically carried beneath you your whole life. I personally am lucky enough to have parents who still provide me with more emotional support than I could ever ask for, but I don’t go home to them every day, they can’t solve the solution to a problem they were never involved in. And that’s where my independence comes into play. I have to work through these problems on my own. That’s the beauty of independence; once you learn to have it, you have the ability to start doing what’s best for you and putting yourself first.
Putting yourself first can sound odd or scary if you aren’t used to it and it’s typically accompanied by feeling guilty or having shame. How can I focus on what I want when everyone around me is struggling? This question is one that I face myself more than I’d like to admit; I feel the need to support everyone around me while ignoring the screaming voice inside my head that tells me that I need to help myself first. It isn’t selfish. Many people have this common idea that by putting yourself first, you are neglecting or forgetting about everyone else in your life. This idea is not true at all; prioritizing what you need to do is the farthest thing from being selfish. When we can acknowledge our own needs and put effort into ourselves, we can begin to support others without losing ourselves in the process. Sometimes we need to take a step back and feel what we need to feel to help ourselves become better.
Learning to balance what you consider important while also taking care of yourself is necessary for everyone. A bad grade, a week away from work, canceling plans on friends or family isn’t the end of the world if it means that you can finally take a minute to yourself and do what you want to do. Your life isn’t anyone’s but your own, so take the time to care for yourself and find time to do things that make you happy. Self-care and knowing what you need shouldn’t make you feel guilty. If you continue to keep up with all other aspects of your life while neglecting yourself, one day you’ll wake up and realize that this life isn’t the one you want to be living. Put the love and effort you put into your friends, family, work, and school and put it into yourself first.
Becoming this amazing and best version of yourself can be hard. Learn to heal, wipe the slate clean, know that it’s okay to fall apart. Above all else, learn to choose yourself. Make yourself the number one priority in your life. You choose yourself over and over again. You make yourself a priority because you can lose yourself by focusing all your energy on pleasing someone else. You have to search within yourself who you are, what you need, and what you want. Knowing yourself is the key to being the best version of yourself because you are the one that defines what that means to you. You can find the answers within you, so go ahead and lose the fear of going deep into your mind, your heart, your soul. Getting to know yourself on this level will help you choose what it is you want to bring into your life instead of settling for less than what you truly deserve.