From the second I rang in the New Year, I was enamored by all the wrong people and things. I wore my heart on my sleeve and gave a lot of shitty people chances that they didn’t deserve. I swept my priorities and responsibilities under the rug so I could go escape reality instead. I disappointed people that were counting on me because of my impulsive, selfish decisions. The “heat of the moment” choices I made only gave me short-term satisfaction and ended up hurting me even more in the long run. Eventually, it all caught up to me. I looked in the mirror and didn’t want to be that person anymore. I was better than that. I was better than my stupid mistakes, the problems that I faced with drinking, the toxic relationships that I valued over my own self-worth, etc. I gave substances and negative people power over my life, emotions, and actions, rather than being in control of myself. I was done.

When I finally decided it was time to change, I didn’t know how to feel. I felt proud but I also felt scared. I felt determined but I was also questioning my own strength. Was I going to slip up and go back to my old ways? Are things ever really going to get better? At this point, I didn’t like being alone. My own company was unsettling. I used to feel accomplished if I went a couple days without going out and drinking, let alone making it a goal to go a month or more without it. Sitting in my room studying while watching my friends go out and have fun was really hard at first, but sooner than later I preferred it to be that way. I was more energized and healthy. I didn’t feel like I was always drowning in schoolwork and trying to catch up after neglecting my priorities in order to party. I started liking myself more. I wasn’t always beating myself up about something stupid that I did or said, and being able to stick to a goal made me feel proud. Sure, I did go out a couple times a month, but I was nothing like the hot mess that I was before. My friends and family saw a change in me, and I saw it too. After finishing the semester with good grades and passing all my finals, I realized my hard work really did pay off.

What I’ve gone through for the past year has not been easy…a lot has changed, and I broke my own heart in many ways. I think that if I learned anything this year, it’s what I don’t want. I learned what kind of person I don’t want to be. I learned what kind of person I don’t want to be with. I learned what I deserve and how I shouldn’t stop and settle for anything less. I learned that the most important relationship that you need to have is with yourself. You have to fall off and spend time alone and not be defined by another person. You have to not depend on quick fixes and alcohol to “de-stress” you or help you with your problems. The only way you can solve your problems is to look within, find your own answers, and not give up when it doesn’t happen overnight. Because it sure doesn’t. Changing for the better is an uphill battle that requires persistence, discipline, and time. But I’m glad that I made the decision when I did.

I don’t feel like I’m done with my personal growth yet. 2017 is going to be the year of rebuilding my self-esteem from the ground up, and looking at life through a pair of eyes that doesn’t need anything or anyone to feel complete. For a while, I’ve let how people treat me affect how I view myself. I’m determined to make this year about being truly comfortable in my own skin, to healing, and to being happy alone. And for once in my life, I actually believe that I can do it.

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