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How can I be happy?

Simple question—but the answer eludes this college student.

Time to stop relying only on yourself, says our elder. We’re all better together.

Dear EWC:

Hi, I’m a 20-year-old currently in college and I feel that I’ve gotten nowhere in life, I’m not very content with myself as a person and feel that my life is just boring. I’m always afraid of what people think of me to the point where it’s a daily thing and feel it’s one of the reasons for my lack of contentment. I have no one to talk to and have only relied on myself for help, but I feel like that hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I just want to be happy but don’t know how.

PJH replies:

I’m glad you’ve written and I hope reaching out as you’ve done maybe a first step in changing direction—working to become more involved with other people and less discontented with yourself.

The lines in your letter that really grab my attention are, “I’m always afraid of what people think of me to the point where it’s a daily thing,” and, “I have no one to talk to and have only relied on myself for help.” We really only know ourselves when we get honest feedback from people we cooperate within a wide variety of ways. That requires healthy interactions on a regular—even daily—basis to let us form a practical sense of identity leading us to find comfortable ways to create productive lives.

That stated it’s important to add that few, very few, of us are outstanding individuals. We’re all a mix of attributes and flaws, and each of us needs to be at peace with our own blend of characteristics that tell us and others who and what we are—what we’re good at, and where we fall short. Together, we create community, and in community we can find balance and contentment. Most of us touch base in a number of different communities, usually with one or two preeminent; your letter implies you’re seriously lacking in community contact.

So my advice is to start thinking of ways to reconnect with peers and other people. I know that’s a tall order. I’m recommending you make a 180 in your life plan. I don’t recommend you do this alone. I think you’ll need a mentor, a counselor, therapist, or trusted older person who will guide your early steps back into a healthy social mix. As a college student, I hope you can take advantage of your school’s counseling service. Please consider this letter as a first step on an exciting journey.

Self-Improvement
#462597

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