I’ve spent much of the last decade trying to figure out who I am. I have often been uncomfortable in my own skin, not really knowing who I am apart from whatever relationship I happen to be in–even if it is a bad one. I have cycled in and out of jobs. I wasted time beating myself up for each of my failures, big and small. I have count all the things keeping me from achieving my goals, but didn’t take the steps needed to reach those goals.
But recently, I have taken a different approach: I focus on my strengths. I have realized I’m a lot stronger than what I thought I was.
It all started about six months ago when I saw a sign saying that my children’s school district needed more bus drivers. I have struggled to keep stable work in the past. In the past depression or anxiety or illness meant that I’d give up on a job almost as soon as I’d started it. But this time I was motivated and had a better attitude—I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. If I worked hard, I’d get my own route. This kind of job that would provide enough money for me to pay off my debts and provide for my family.
I applied, did the intensive month-long training, passed multiple tests and was finally given a route as a sub. I broke up fights between high-schoolers, backed into a tree, dealt with the troublemaking preteen that keeps wanting to lay on the floor in the middle of the aisle and won the praise of my supervisor. Each of those experiences showed me I’m stronger than I thought I was… and more patient, too.
I surprised myself.
My lifestyle has changed dramatically. No longer can I stay up late into the night watching TV—I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. and be ready to safely drive other people’s kids—56 of them!—to school. I am now proud to announce that I have my very own route.
I surprised myself again.
A goal of mine—keeping a job for longer than a few months—is now completed. My long-term goal to pay off my debt and get out of public housing keeps me motivated. I’ve learned through my job that life is only what you make of it. You can blame your crappy life on your past and crap that happened to you, but in reality you’re only hurting yourself by playing the victim and staying in that mentality. Don’t be the victim anymore—become the victor and rise above it. Become better than you used to be. Nobody can make that choice but you.
Don’t beat yourself up, though—that won’t get you very far. Begin by focusing on your strengths. Ask yourself, what do I believe in? What am I good at? What do I enjoy? Look at what you’ve accomplished and give thanks for it.
Through all of my struggles I thought I needed a man to make it all better and to make me happy, but I now recognize that a relationship cannot be a Band-Aid for lack of self-confidence. Other people are not responsible for my well-being and happiness. They can’t make me change, only I can. My happiness, thoughts, and feelings are in my control.
By taking responsibility for myself and focusing on the positive, I feel like I am finally growing into the person that I want to be.