How to be happy in the future

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    I’m a 19 year old girl. Growing up, I was always seen as the “smart/ intelligent girl” and retrospectively, I think I based my own self-worth and validation on that. But more importantly than that, I craved to “feel” loved more than anything else. I felt like I grew up with an emotionally distant mother and I mistakenly believed that my grandfather was the one who loved me the most who passed away when I was three. It was a very complicated history.

    But when I moved to another country, in an attempt to fit in, I “dumbed down” myself a lot. Faced with slight casual racism, I didn’t want to get bullied. Despite being labelled the “aloof, cold, bitchy” girl in the past, I tried to become a nice person. In reality, it was a way to protect myself: “if I become a nice person, no one would really want to hurt me right?” And I really didn’t want to be alone. So there, I became known as the nicest person but to be truthful, it was people-pleasing. Inside, I think I was actually suppressing rage. Then four years ago, I became attention seeking by crying all the time and started lying to people, essentially digging myself a hole. I isolated myself and withdrew myself.

    I know that what I’ve done is a terrible thing and I still find it hard to forgive myself. I struggled with the guilt and negative emotions since then. Last year, I discovered sites like marcandangel and tinybuddha and have since then worked on releasing some of this feelings. And I genuinely think I have now become a nicer human being, because I now understand much more about people and can empathize more.

    But still, sometimes, I feel like I don’t really have a personality and keep vacillating and overcompensating at times. So I thought that I would like to ask advice from others on this forum with my specific set of circumstances. Thank you.

    Alexey Sunly

    Good day, Michelle 🙂 Please, take a look at the following thread that was posted for individuals in a situation similar to yours: Are YOU having a REALLY Tough Time right now?

    And welcome to the forums 🙂


    Hi Michelle,

    First off, I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. I was always labelled as the smart/intelligent girl, so that’s tied up in my self-worth. I was also very aloof and blunt as a child which a lot of people didn’t like, and all I ever wanted was to be accepted and have friends, so I started “faking” being cheerful and smiley so that people would like me more. Long story short, the cheerfulness sort went from being my superficial mask to a permanent part of who I am, and not a day goes by when I wonder if this is really who I am or who I convinced myself who I am. And despite being overall cheerful, I still get days when I feel all that heavy sadness and anger all over again.

    My logic is this: no person can be one way all the time. We’re complex creatures with positives and negatives too. We don’t stay static just as we were when we were children, we grow and change and learn from our mistakes. I’m a product of both who I am and who I choose to be, and so are you. 🙂


    You do have a personality. But when you are young (which you are), you try on various personae to see what is comfortable and what fits, and you go through various phases. This still happens as you get older (30+), but for many it’s less dramatic and less frequent. So it finally feels like your personality is stabilizing. But by that point, you’ve gone through a lot of the bad phases already. Been there, done that, and not willing to do it again 🙂

    I think most people do this. I did it plenty. So, no, it’s not unusual or weird. Most of us have also gone through a few phases that we aren’t overly proud of and have made some poor decisions during those times. That’s totally normal. And while you might not be proud of those decisions, or phases, I think the important thing is to not beat yourself up over it. Sure, make amends (if necessary) or try to learn from those mistakes.

    The fact is, you have a lot of growing to do — we ALL do! And we are going to make mistakes, and screw up, and fail, and get rejected… the key is accept that it is entirely human. Beautifully and imperfectly human.

    If I can recommend a book for you, it is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Also, google “Brene Brown TED talk” and click on her speech The Power of Vulnerability. If you like her talk, her book goes into much more detail and I think it’s a fantastic book. It also talks about various ways we protect ourselves from getting hurt and getting close to people, the various masks we wear. I think it might speak to you. Wish I had it when I was 19 y/o.


    Hiya Jade,

    I hope you didn’t think of me as being rude for not replying earlier. I just wanted to give myself a lot of time to think before I replied. I also find that I can identify myself in you as well. But I also find that my additional problem was that I wore a lot of “masks” in front of people and tried to present a perfect image of myself. I basically presented myself as a nice person when in reality, I wasn’t a good person at all. Did you find it the same?


    Hello Lindsay,

    I hope you didn’t find me rude for not replying earlier. I also wanted to give some thought and especially wanted to reflect on Brene Brown’s TED talk and also other aspects of myself. The thing is despite your reassurance that I do have a personality, I really feel like I don’t know who I am at all, what my likes and dislikes are. I just feel empty as a person. This is probably due to the fact that I keep lying to myself and swinging my personality from one extreme to another.

    I really enjoyed the talk. Thank you so much for recommending it! It made me think a lot and I found that most of what she said was true in my case. All my life, I was afraid of being vulnerable. I grew up in an environment where I was taught that being weak was a bad thing but that also meant that I wouldn’t expose my vulnerabilities to my supposed closest people – my family. You may think that it is weird that I can share it with strangers online but not with people I know.

    But all in all, thank you. Your recommendation has helped me a lot.


    Hello Michelle,

    How are you? Do you know how hard it is to find people who are as honest as you are? You are very kind too.
    Just have patience. Try to figure out your likes and dislikes. If you can’t, try different things. I used to be very shy, didn’t talk much and was very, very confused. But the more I got out in the world and connected, the more I learned about myself and I’m still learning!

    Best of luck. I hope one day you’ll find the happiness you seek.

    With warmth,


    Dear Rideeta,

    Thank you so much for your kind words and your advice. I will try to follow them and keep trying.

    I wish the same happiness for you too!

    Best wishes,


    one w/nature

    It’ll be okay:-) You’re going through phases of many phases in your lifetime. I call it soul searching but then again that is something that you’ll continue doing all of your life as well. You shouldn’t feel bad about something that is happening naturally. A true master knows that nothing is ever TRULY mastered. Smile, take it as a lesson and keep moving forward!!!

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