Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? Whats the secret to happiness? Throughout life, these difficult questions pop into mind. Im not sure if anyone ever figures out all the answers. Life is a complicated journey that continually asks you to explore your emotions, reflect on your past and hopefully grow into a better version of yourself.
Each life change or event causes you to re-examine yourself and ask these questions again. Each trial forces you to decide if you are someone who chooses to be a victim or a survivor. Each betrayal leads you to decide to forgive or seek revenge. Each reached goal compels you to decide if you will settle or push ahead for future success.
Events during the past two years, including my sisters death, have forced me to reflect on my life, search for who I am and reconsider my lifes direction. While I havent found all the answers, I have learned this:
• Bad things happen and theres no way around it. Dont allow yourself to be a victim. Take time to understand what has happened, then find a way to move forward and become a survivor. By accepting the past and moving on, you will regain your life.
• Everyone has an opinion of who you are and how you should act. The truth is, you are the only person who can determine this. Be true to yourself and dont let others rule your life. Be proud of who you are and remember an original is worth more than a copy.
• In any healthy friendship or relationship, you should feel comfortable to be yourself. A true friend will encourage you to be your best by inspiring you. They will be honest but will not intentionally hurt you. In the same spirit, work hard at being the best friend you can be. Chances are youll find yourself surrounded by the same.
• Life is a reflection of your mind. Want a different life? Then change your thinking, make different choices and find a way to achieve the outcomes you desire. But keep your expectations realistic and know that you cannot control every situation.
• Its okay if you arent a 100 percent sure of what you want in life. The key to happiness isnt necessarily having a well-thought-out plan for what your life should be. Instead its figuring out where you can make a contribution, what makes you feel good about yourself and then finding a way to do it. Take one day at a time and slowly things will fall into place.
In just a few weeks, Ill be turning 30. Im not sure Im much closer to knowing what I want to be when I grow up than I was in high school, and thats okay with me. I am happy with the person I have become so far and I am excited for the next adventure. Life is about the journey, not always the destination.
Marisa Brown is president and founder of Jana Marie Foundation. This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities That Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities that Care serving the State College Area School District.