Over the last three years here at UC Davis, I have learned a lot about myself, and in particular, a lot about who I want to be. They say college is the time when you really get to know yourself and explore different ways of living in order to figure out where you belong in this world. Along with these changes though comes the opportunity to make mistakes, and wow, have I made a lot of them.
Mistakes vary among people. To some, a mistake is that time they forgot to use STI protection, to some it’s not having studied enough and to others it’s not having been the most moral person they could have been. To avoid beating around the bush, I am guilty of the latter. There were periods of time when life was hard, when I was stressed and sad, and lots of things weren’t going my way. Rather than reaching out for comfort and care, I emotionally lashed out at people I loved, admittedly a good handful of them. There was, of course, absolutely no excuse for this, and rather than get better or find ways to relieve a lot of the issues I was dealing with, I exacerbated these personal problems by rejecting people who genuinely cared about me. I treated them poorly from the confines of my own welled-up emotions, when in actuality, my negative emotions had nothing to do with the individuals I hurt.
Eventually, I realized that this kind of negative reaction to my own personal issues not only caused people I cared about stress and emotional pain and ruined relationships that were important to me. My negative reactions also just left me loathing life and dreading having to wake up in the morning because I had single-handedly hurt and pushed away people that loved me. I have been trying to change my approach to my own emotions and personal issues and have been doing my best to mend all of the wounds I’ve created, wary of the fact that sometimes wounds leave scars.
This being said, I have learned a lot about the healing process. I now understand that you have to wake up every day being conscious of your actions towards others and that you must really take the time to think about how everything you do will affect the people you love. It’s vital to make sure that you never take anyone you care about for granted and that you constantly remind people you care about how much they matter to you and how much you are willing to support them.
I have also come to realize that even if you are hurting, it does not give you an excuse to neglect your personal relationships; pulling others down with you out of sadness, anger, jealousy, fear and stress does not fix your problems; it only emotionally harms others, which is one of the worst things you could do to another human being. When attempting to mend the damage you’ve caused another, you must make sure you’re genuine in your intentions to be better to that person, as well as constantly remind them how important they are to you while treating them with love and respect.
It’s also important to remember that those you’ve hurt are not required to forgive you or even give you the time of day, even if you do change your ways. You can’t take back the poor decisions you’ve already made, and if you’ve done enough damage to cause someone to not want to associate with you, so be it – all you can do is change who you are for the better and learn from the losses you’ve brought upon yourself.
Now, I’m not saying that I’ve been successful yet. These are just sentiments I have learned that I am applying to how I live every day. I won’t be successful at learning from my mistakes until the day I’m on my deathbed and can honestly say I lived the best life I possibly could have and treated those I loved with the utmost care and respect. All I’m trying to say here is that I messed up a lot in the past year. Even though I’m making a concerted effort to learn from my poor choices, if I hadn’t made those choices in the first place, I wouldn’t be writing this heads up.
I hope this is a good reminder for anyone who may be making the same mistakes I have made to be self-reflective and possibly change how you deal with your emotions before you ruin something that matters to you.
Remember to be kind to those around you, especially to those who truly care about you. You only have one life, so try to live it to the fullest, but also make sure you love to the fullest.
AKIRA OLIVIA KUMAMOTO is the Arts Editor at The California Aggie. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet her @akiraolivia.
Graphic by Jennifer Wu.