For much of my college career, I watched and cheered on many of my friends as they studied abroad, traveled the world chasing their dreams, and began to grow into elevated versions of themselves. I remember visiting them in what felt like faraway lands to me.

They didn’t live the same conformed lifestyle I did. When I sat in on their college experiences I realized how different mine is. Of course, I’d never give up the opportunity to play division one lacrosse. But I cannot help but envy the copious amounts of free time, adventure, and sleep all my friends thrived on. My schedule was tight and planned. I didn’t have the opportunity to pack up for a semester and head to Barcelona like what felt like every other 20 year old girl was doing. 

I sat on what feels like hundreds of planes – staring off into space, wondering if I was worthy of that happiness and, if so, when/where would I find it?

Often I came back to the same limiting belief that maybe I was just “different.” My life was more complicated, exciting, dramatic! I felt incredibly free and deeply lonely at the same time. I lived in Florida, practiced insane hours of lacrosse and focused on school, and spent most of my very little free time between going to New Smyrna Beach or feeling sorry for myself and treating myself like sh**. Somewhat typical 20-year old behavior, I thought. And sure, I had some great times and don’t regret any of it – that’s just not my style. I love where I go to school, my friends, lacrosse, my entire experience But when I look back, the truth is I was a shell of myself. I had so much inside of me but most days felt hollow and empty. I was exhausted, trying to be everything to everyone else, sending my energy outward in a thousand different directions.

After a really difficult freshman year, I learned how to deal with all this. I knew my way around sickness, drama, heartache, and sadness – that territory felt familiar and somewhat easy to exist in. But at a certain point I’d had enough and decided to start exploring a new place, where I was worthy of all the good stuff. Harder to navigate at first but a much softer place to root myself in. The ocean became my muse. The days I stopped worrying about running, schoolwork, and pretending to be happy…I immersed myself in a place where I felt a smile shine through, at the beach. From there I built on those emotions and feelings until they were real. I did this all on my own.

I can’t fully express in words what a relief it has been to realize, through daily practice, that I am worthy of so much more than I ever thought. Yes, we all have troubles and worries… yes, bad stuff happens, and hard times will come in life. But so will good times — happy, peace-filled, fulfilling, beautiful and blissful times.

It is so important that we learn to enjoy our own company. Take a break from everything else. All of it. No distractions. If you are lucky enough to have ample free time, take full advantage and do something that reminds you how amazing, strong and capable you are. Meditate, practice yoga, exercise, write. Be present with yourself. If you’re as busy as me and some days you feel as though your only alone time is in the shower…make those minutes count. 

Live and let live. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same, right? And we all know there is no real “normal.” You are unlike anyone else on the planet and that is something to be celebrated! The coolest humans are the authentic ones, in my humble opinion. It’s hard not to compare ourselves to others, especially considering all the filters out there, but it is such a waste of energy. If we commit to using even a fraction of that time building ourselves up instead of tearing ourselves down, we will all be better off. So let’s encourage each other to live our best lives, however different they may be. Don’t focus on not being in Barcelona, Byron Bay, or all the other hundred places you would rather be. Each and every person lives a different life. Let yourself live yours.

@ninaenderst @freepeople
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