How I Cracked a Smile and Changed My Life

“Becki, you’re the most cynical person I know.”

The line that a uni friend repeatedly labelled me with for the rest of our studies together. I agreed. I didn’t remotely question it. I was cynical, miserable, negative, blunt, sarcastic and sometimes just plain mean.

It was me all over, and I didn’t even hate it. It was my way of saying to people, “I’m not going to let you hate me, because I’ll show you just how much I hate myself before you beat me to it.”

Looking back, it’s odd to think of myself as that person.

Nowadays, it’s usually quite the opposite. People I’ve met have been quick to point out my positivity and smileyness (the latter only noticeable because 90% of my face is in fact, all teeth).

That being said, last year was an amazing but overwhelming one for me. Too overwhelming, at times.

I was in the driver’s seat of my amazing year, but through no conscious thought of my own, the weight of life was starting to feel too much. Over Christmas, I felt like I’d rewound time and I was about to labelled Little Miss Cynical again, so in true ‘new year, new me’ style, I decided to snap out of it and make a change

So, how did I turn my personality around to be a better (or just a normal) person?.. Twice?

I reached out to friends, near and far.

I realised that I am in a very lucky position. Through all the amazing things I have done and places I have been, I now have friends all over the world from the years gone by. Luckily, I have stayed in touch with most of them on a regular basis, despite not seeing each other for months or even years.

Just a quick chat every now and then brings it all into perspective – it reminds you of all the great memories you have shared with awesome people, and how being interested in their lives, in turn, gives you excitement in yours. It reminds you of how connected and part of the world you really are.

I addressed my embarrassing social media obsession

For the first time in my life, I’m embarrassingly admitting that I’m in a position where I feel that I could not live without social media. I have ashamedly spent the last 12 months staring so deep into my phone, I almost forgot that this wasn’t all a made up life, with made up friends and made up places.

Obviously it stemmed from being away from home and my phone being my only way of communicating with my life back in England, but it soon turned into my escape from loneliness – scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, seeing what everyone else was up to and hoping their life wasn’t going to make me jealous whilst I was miserable. I felt like it was my only way to both secretly keep tabs on people whilst portraying I had the greatest life ever. It became a competition to me.

I’m slowly weaning myself away from it now. I’m finding Instagram specifically quite hard to reign in as I’ve become a bit photography obsessed and, well , duh Instagram = an endless gallery of every photo ever. But, I’m home now and I’m getting there.

I quit caffeine and stopped turning to food

To say I am coffee and cake obsessed is the understatement of the century. Hey, my bio to the right says it all.

In the past, an average day would probably consist of 3 cups of coffee, 2 cups of tea and 2 cans of Pepsi Max. I don’t know how much caffeine that equals to but I’m going to say, it’s a LOT. I was living latte to latte and trying to combat hunger cravings with another cup. It was running my anxiety levels to an all time high and I was barely sleeping.

On top of that, I was binging crappy food because I didn’t feel motivated to cook and eating a sugary treat was the only thing in my day I had to look forward to.

I’ve had a really tormented relationship with food and diets my whole life, so I decided to try something different – quit the caffeine.

I have one cup of regular coffee in the morning and then nothing for the rest of the day. I feel more in tuned with my body and what I need to feel good mentally and physically – sleep, activeness, nourishing food and water satisfied most of the needs that coffee was merely glossing over. I’m yet to see a real difference on the anxiety front, but it is still early days.

I accepted myself and celebrated my achievements

Probably the hardest one to do.

It’s difficult to wake up in the morning and convince yourself you’re great when it feels as though the world doesn’t believe it.

I chose to take a glass half full approach with my thoughts. Instead of “I’m looking for a new job, I’m lonely and my travels are over“, I started to think “I’m about to start a new, exciting career where I can do anything I choose. I’ve met so many great people over the past year, and the best of my adventures are yet to come“. It’s cheesy, but it works. I promise.

I took some time to positively look back and celebrate all the good things I have done, and accept that whatever bad things may come my way, it will never outweigh my achievements. I overcame years of troubled anxiety and bad relationships and terrible health to feel as though I am the fittest, happiest, most confident person on earth, travelling the world by myself! Get a grip, I can do anything life throws at me!!!

I became more genuine and authentic to people by being open and vulnerable – I give my full self to everyone I meet and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to be honest. I actually really like it.

I accepted that I can’t control how people feel and stopped getting carried away with anger, hurt or desire from past events. I’m guilty of often thinking that I’m not allowed to feel negatively about people as that somehow means I am being petty. I decided that this doesn’t make me petty, but when done right and with reason, is just a mature way to keep moving on. I just go with my gut and let it be.

And here I am, free.

I do everything with good intentions and always put my best foot forward.

I love without seeking love, be positive without expecting the world to give it back, and celebrate the little things that nobody else is shouting about.

I like who I am. I have friends who love me. I focus on who, what and where matters. And that is all I need to crack a smile every single day.

(Originally posted on apizzamylife.com on January 18, 2017)

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