The difference a year makes

The other day I spent some time reflecting on how vastly different my life is today than it was even a year ago. I had already moved back to the North Bay, was working in the same field, and had the same group of friends–in many ways my life was very similar to the life I lead now. The difference I’m referring to is one of mental state.

I had spent the year prior to this point solely focused on survival. When I decided to make a huge change in my life and start over, I moved back to the North Bay unemployed, with only $200 in my bank account to pay my bills. I spent the next year focused on rebuilding my life financially and getting my living and job situations under control. Finally, after I had a safety net established, I was faced with putting my life back together mentally and emotionally. This was the place I was at a year ago. I was forced to rethink my beliefs, emotional reactions, relationships and more. It was back to the basics, and I had not a clue as to how to begin putting me back together again.

A year later, I feel like a completely different person than that lost girl. I feel confident, strong and content. The environment around me didn’t change, but I did. In short, I feel like me again.

A few weeks ago I had a long conversation with a friend who is in a similar place now as I was a year ago – lost, unhappy with his life, and unsure how to begin putting together the pieces. He asked me what steps I took to get to a happier place. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. My journey to this point was complicated, involved quite a few hurdles, and of course I still sometimes struggle with past issues. However, I think I’ve come up with the most basic explanation for my mental transformation.

I arrived at this place by exercising self-awareness. Awareness of my past, awareness of the motivations behind my actions, awareness of how my thoughts differ from my feelings. This constant self-reflection helped me learn the self I had never known before and lead me to a healthier place. It helped me to find comfort with my thoughts and feelings. It helped me learn how to direct my thoughts in a more positive way. To put it even more simply,  I put a lot of time and effort into searching myself.

Everyone’s path is different, but I’m glad I devoted so much time to searching myself in an effort to make peace with the past so that I can have a bright future.