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The Art of Focusing on Oneself: How Unrequited Feelings Turned into a Source of Self-Improvement


If you had asked me what consumed my head and heart exactly seven to nine months ago around this time, I would’ve responded that it was taken over by a boy with the most warming smile that I’d ever seen on anyone, an individual that I could see myself with in the long haul. Our backgrounds perfectly aligned, he was everything I wanted in a potential partner, and albeit the distance, he was someone that nonetheless I grew to care for on a level that I had never experienced before. We spoke everyday and I was happy to hear even the most mundane things about his day.

So, where was the disconnect?

Intention.

In conversation, he soon revealed that there was another girl that had in fact caught his eye. He told me that he was beginning to fall hard for her, and could spend all his time with her. I was torn. Here in front of me was a boy that I cared for and would do anything for him to be happy, but he was telling me that another girl had stolen his heart. I was so elated that he was happy, as that is all I wanted for him. But at the same time, I could not ignore my own broken heart, which had sunk to my stomach. I mustered a smile, and told him of how great it was that he had found someone, only to have him tell me that he hoped the same for me one day.

It wasn’t an ordinary heartbreak for many reasons. Not only is this an individual that I am still very much closely connected to, but he got away easily. This was what is known more commonly as “unrequited feelings”.

Flash forward to now. I’m happily single, focusing solely on myself, and I’ve developed more meaningful connections with my friends and family.

The first step on this journey was teaching myself to be a more private person. I started my cleanse by consolidating my social media. I was done with people I never even interacted with seeing what I posted, and putting up a collection of photos that was aesthetically arranged for the satisfaction of my followers — what gave them the right to know what was going on in my life? I switched to different handles where only my close friends were given the privilege to see what occurred in my life. Come to think of it, my biggest regret as an adolescent was being an open book with my life, even if it was only through photos. Since switching to smaller accounts, I’ve noticed my mental health has significantly improved.

The second step was setting clear boundaries, not just with him, but myself. That meant no more asking our mutual contacts how he was doing, nor checking up on him via social media to see what had become of his life since I left it. It’s important that I stress that while it’s okay to miss someone, it is not okay to mope around, hoping that they’ll come around and find their way back to you. As my mother has always stated, “ignorance is bliss.” I took that to an extreme, deleted any photos that I may of had with him, and journaled instead of what I was grateful for in my day.

It occurred to me that I had not picked up a novel of any sort since March, or taken the time to invest myself in a new hobby. With this saddening realization, I ran to my nearest library and poured myself into reading novels where I felt myself transported to another world, one where I could experience the narratives of another individual. After I rekindled my love for reading, I began to notice that my disposition was generally calmer  and happier than it’d previously been.

It’s in this time that it’s crucial to focus on building your current relationships, not only with yourself, but also with those that you care for and support you. After letting him go, I made fun a priority for myself. Nearly every night last summer was spent driving around the city with my four college best friends in my car, singing at the top of our lungs to songs in our playlist as we made our way to get dessert. We made plans to picnic in gardens, go out to the city, and spend the night in on occasion, making TikToks and creating new inside jokes with one another.

Losing him was quite possibly the best thing that could’ve happened to me. If nothing else, the takeaway message from this article should be that you have the power to better yourself and that these experiences in life, while painful, are beneficial to unearthing more about ourselves. Although the road may appear tough to travel down at first, it is rewarding and worthwhile in the end, as you come first.



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