First of all, English is not my native language, so I apologize already for any mistakes I might make. Also, this is my first article.

I used to ask myself "What's wrong with me?" pretty often - every day, actually. But I never was able to answer myself. I felt like everything I did was wrong. I would go out partying and drank and flirted and I thought that was what I wanted to do and I was alright with it, but, at the same time, I felt empty and not happy about myself.

Less than two months ago I went through a traumatizing experience that made me question my whole life until that moment. What brought me here? Was it my fault? What did I do wrong? Did I really deserve this?
No, I didn't. Of course, I didn't deserve to be abused. No one does. But, as wrong as it may come out, I'm glad that happened, in a way, because it made me a lot stronger and those questions I asked myself after that pushed me to pay more attention to myself and do something I had never even thought I needed to do: Get to know myself.

So, if you don't know what you're doing wrong, why you can't seem to be happy, the answer, one you probably weren't expecting, is because you don't know yourself.
How can you make yourself happy (Because let me tell you, you're the only one who can do that) if you don't quite know what makes you happy?
I thought to go to parties, to drink, to flirt with a lot of guys would make me look cool. Cool. How dumb does that sound?

At school, I was kind of a geek, even though I hate those labels. I got the highest grades and barely went out because I barely had any friends and the only friends I got: a) didn't like parties, b) didn't invite me to parties because they assumed I didn't like them just because of my grades.
So, when I went to college and met new people, made new friends, I had a new chance to build myself anew. No one there knew about my school grades or "who I used to be", so I tried to act... well, cool. And I went to parties, I stayed out until way too late, I got drunk for the first time in my life... It even turned out guys liked me! Me, the girl that had never had a boyfriend before, the girl that nobody ever liked! So I flirted nonstop, I dated guys I didn't even like just because I could. I know it sounds terrible, but I felt that was what being cool was all about...

I couldn't feel worse about myself.
All of this took place in a school year, from October to July. I feel I've thrown away nine months of my life that, instead of being the most beautiful, as I was told they would be, have been the most terrible. I even realised I didn't like the career I had chosen and I decided on a change of career to another, completely different one.

Lately, I've been thinking about me, about what I really like, what I want my life to be, and the person I am (Important: The person I am, not who I want to become). I was asked about my personal values, and an exercise that really helped me figure them out was writing a description of my ideal best friend: The values you would like your best friend to have are the ones that you value the most and therefore would like to have yourself. I made several lists of the things that I truly enjoy, the ones I have never regretted doing and that fill me with joy, as cheesy as it may sound. I also made a list of the things that I regret and the ones that I don't like doing and I promised myself that I am never doing them again. I am never doing anything again to impress someone or look cool because that is just stupid. I am living for me and I don't mind being called selfish or egocentric anymore for putting myself first.

Always put yourself first.

I know it's all been said before but I think people are focusing too much on the "love yourself" thing and not enough in the "know yourself" and, to love yourself, you first need to know who you are. I know it sounds obvious but for some people like me, because there is a lot of people like me out there, I'm sure, it is not so evident. So, in order to accept yourself for who you are, work on that "who you are" part.

Sorry I expanded on this so much. Hope it was helpful for somebody.
A.

Cover image from @_alyn24