I am someone who experiences high highs and low lows. There are days when I smile at every stranger I see, walk with my head held high, and sing embarrassing songs with the car windows down and zero care about anyone who may be watching me. Then there are other days. The ones where my infinite to-do list sits untouched and the only place I feel safe is in my bed. It is particularly on these days that I turn to my phone to live vicariously through not only those I personally know, but anyone who seems to have the motivation to do the things I wish I had the courage for.

For a long time, I believed that I was the only one who felt like this. I knew everyone had bad days, but not like the ones I had. Because each time I was doing well, happy and healthy, the days of despondency lurked in the shadows, and I knew I would soon be back at square one. Getting to be an emotional person, I also am incredibly introspective. I think… a lot. I. also write a lot and cry a lot and talk to myself aloud — a lot. It may be a little odd, but I love the way this has allowed me to view the world and make sense of the feelings I have no names for. Recently, my mom opened up to me about the things she has been feeling in her daily life and it gave me the opportunity to voice the exact thoughts I had been pondering for days. I unfurled it in a nice clean narrative — everything I had been feeling, my conclusions as to why I had been feeling that way, and how I chose to fix it. It made me realize just how much life is dependent on perception, how much it is really only you that can define you.

As we jump into the fast-paced month of March, I have decided to make that simple phrase my daily affirmation: YOU define YOU. It is only three words, but it holds so much power in reminding me that my reality is all a figment of my awareness. Tying this back to my recent low, I noticed that it stemmed from excessive social media use, and more, the time it was taking away from my other hobbies and interests. It only takes a second to send a picture on Snapchat, but with that can come self-deprecation and fixation. Instagram can become hours of comparison and scrolling. YouTube is a rabbit hole of lives more perfect than my own. Slowly but surely, I begin defining myself by others’ versions of good enough, even when everyone’s version of good enough differs. I can’t live ten different lives at once, so I may as well live my own and take my time figuring out how to make it one I feel comfortable and joyful in, without the validation of anyone else.

When I stop for a minute, I realize that my only goal in life should be to be happy. I work hard in school so I can feel accomplished. I work hard in the gym so I can feel strong. I write, sing, paint, and dance as an outlet, and it all feeds into the end goal of simple happiness. I truly believe that social media can tear our focus from our own goals and ambitions and place them on everyone else’s. It’s important to remember to constantly check in with yourself and make sure that you are living according to your own values, and that only you are defining you. On Saturday morning, I woke up, ran down to the beach, and walked along the shore during sunrise, with solely my own thoughts. Since then, I’ve made more of an effort to be present in my day-to-day: setting screen time limits, reading each night before bed, taking hot baths, and drinking cold water, all with the purpose of serving me.

This week, take some time to step into your own shoes. Dedicate yourself wholly to each task you complete, and find ways to wake up excited for the day ahead. Life is not perfect, sometimes it is not anywhere close to perfect for long periods, but a perfect life is about what you make it. For me, it means a mindset that allows me to love others with everything I have, and love myself in the same way.

Happy Living

“A bad day is still a luxury” -Libby Christensen

Published by Ria Pai

Hi let me introduce myself. I was born and have lived my entire life in a beach area as a child of two amazing parents who immigrated to America from India. I love art, music and writing so I try to combine the three. I enjoy deep conversations on a number of topics from politics, to friendships, to fashion. I’m a natural perfectionist, but sometimes find this to be a bit overwhelming. I love mangos, dark chocolate and tea. I make art whenever I get the chance…painting, songwriting, dancing, and writing are all forms of art to me. Since I live in a warm area, I cannot stand any weather that is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and always find a way to swim in anything from pools to the ocean. I have one dog, a Lhasa Apso who I am envious of because he does nothing but eat, sleep, and lay around all day. I experiment with my style. I am horrible at geography and sitting still, and it’s not uncommon to find me with paint all over my hands. I like to wear bold clothing and I always find a way to wear the same white sneakers with any outfit I can. Hi, my name is Ria, nice to meet you.

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