BY SARAH LEWIS, Editor-in-Chief
I turned twenty last month. The big two oh. The birthday that brings absolutely nothing but age. Whoop de doo. Only not.
For some reason I thought since my teenage years were finally behind me, all the complexities of that time would phase out.
You know, the awkward times of middle school and high school…the time when I thought it was okay to wear my hair in pigtails and pair it with an Aeropostale baby tee with a monkey displayed across the front.
Not my best look.
Twenty would bring serious endeavors with multifaceted relationships, and I’d definitely be steering clear of baby tees becoming a part of my wardrobe. But everyone is supposed to be better at this age, right? Everyone is supposed to be good and have good intentions. I was kidding myself to think that a birthday could bring all of that. As soon as I realized what a joke my mindset was, I had to ask myself, “Is this real life?”
Now that I’m practically an old woman with a hair net and a walking stick, I’ve learned one or two life lessons. If there’s one thing I know by now it’s that people can be cruel. Just flat out mean. Haven’t you ever seen Mean Girls? If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times…Regina George exists, you guys. We all have a Regina George, and hey, it may even be a guy. Sometimes we don’t intend to be callous, but it is simply our nature.
Many us live and breathe for ourselves; most of the time, I am not one of those people. Since I was a kid I’ve always put everyone else’s feelings before my own. “Oh, you want my favorite pink crayon? Okay, as long as we’re still friends! I don’t want to cause a kindergarten throw down! Yeah, it’s okay. I’ll just use this white crayon on white paper. It’s fine.” NO, it’s not fine. No one wants the white crayon…c’mon, but I like to make other people happy. I’ve always feared disappointing others.
I would rather root for Canada in the Olympics than to let someone down. Extreme? Yes, but it’s true. The problem with setting other’s emotions in front of mine is that I’m not happy unless everyone I care about is. Maybe you’re thinking this doesn’t seem like too much of a problem, but when someone takes advantage of that kindness, it is. If I hone in on making another person satisfied, they can do no wrong in my eyes. Let’s take a look at how I’ve been in the past with an exaggerated demonstration conversation. This is something that you should not try at home, by the way:
Friends: Sarah, you’re beating yourself up over this. Ralph isn’t nice to you. He knows you’ll say anything he wants to hear. Ralph could cut your hands off, and you’d still talk to him. Can’t you just focus on girls’ night?
Me: Guys, you’re crazy! And I’m totally focused on girls’ night. OH-EM-GEE Ryan Gosling is beautiful. Hold that thought, Ralph needs me to devote all my attention to him.
Friends: *incoherent grumbling*
Ralph: I think it would be fun if you could stay up until two a.m. talking to me, but we don’t like each other, k? Also you’re really pretty. Can you do me a favor?
Me: Okay, cool! Thanks! And yeah I’ll do you a favor, FOR SURE! It’s not like I’m busy tonight or anything.
Friends: ARE YOU KIDDING, SARAH.
Am I exaggerating? Sure, but that’s beside the point. Don’t let someone take advantage of you and simply label it as you caring or being nice. Ever heard the saying “Nice guys finish last”? Truth.
I’ve learned that if you want to be happy, truly happy, you have to focus on what you want instead of what everyone else wants from you. Fight for what you want. It’s taken me getting hurt far too many times to realize that sometimes you have to be a little selfish. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you are from time to time. I’m not saying you need to go to BD’s Mongolian Barbeque and push down everyone in line whilst declaring all the food is yours, but make yourself smile instead of trying to put a smile on someone else’s face.
It’s a good thing I’m old now and keep a walking stick with me so I can lay the smack down on people who take advantage of kindness by leading someone on, lying to them, tricking them…whatever the case is. Okay, I honestly don’t carry a walking stick, but I wish I did. Don’t you just have instant respect for anyone with one? Let’s think about it: Gandolf, Bear Grylls, Rafiki, Lord Disick aka Scott Disick, etc. So my point is, don’t let people walk all over you just so they’re happy. It’s not fair, and if you let it go on, you’ll end up snapping one day. SNAP. Just like a snapping turtle. Those things creep me out, and I don’t want my readers to end up like that.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten is that you’ve got to be selfish now and then. That’s why I’m sharing it with you because I believe good, strong advice should be passed on. Don’t let other people decide whether or not you wake up wearing a smile. You’re never fully dressed without one, you know. And when all else fails, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” I promise.