I remember when I was younger, always trying to fit in. I can vividly recall conversations with my mother in which I asked her why someone didn’t like me. You know all that elementary school stuff – not everyone would get invited to a birthday party and there’d be hurt feelings. I am sure that while being on the hurt end of it I also unknowingly did some hurting of my own to other girls. It was just one of those things. But I remember my mother telling me “Not everyone will like you. It’s impossible to be liked by everyone. That makes the friendships you do have all that much more special because they’re unique and they celebrate your uniqueness.” We’re all such different people, it’d be impossible to like everyone or be liked by everyone – so I learned at a young age to embrace the person that I am and to savor the people around me who do enjoy me.

I can take that same premise and extend it to so many things in my life. It all comes down to staying true to who I am no matter what other influences are part of my life. Not looking just like everyone else, not talking just like everyone else, not thinking what others think just for the sake of it, and not living anyone else’s life but my own.

It can be hard to do these things especially after being criticized. I find the times that it’s hardest for me to continue to embrace the things that I hold dear and true of myself are when someone takes aim at me. It’s those times that it is most important to remind myself that everything about me is seen differently through different eyes. The only way I’ll enjoy my life is by living a life that is my own, aimed at pleasing no one else but those who truly matter around me – and most of all, myself.

By doing this, it’s the only way I can confidently and happily live a fulfilling life. It’s also the best way to pass confidence on to my children. I want them to not just hear me say the words that what others think doesn’t matter but for them to see that I act that out. I don’t want them to see me changing who I am for others. They’ll learn from me that staying true to yourself and being confident enough to go against the grain when necessary and to stand up for and act on the things that are most important in life is a good start on the path to life happiness and fulfillment.