When I was a stubborn thirteen year old, my psychologist at the time said something to me that stuck with me forever. ”Would you treat your friends the same way you treat yourself?” Of course not, was my immediate reaction. They were my friends after all. And at the same time I realized something important that day: I was treating myself like shit.
Looking back, I know exactly why. Because I thought I was shit. That I wasn’t worth anything. That I didn’t belong. There was something wrong with me. I was broken, didn’t have talents, was unable to make my parents proud. Or at least I felt like that. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’ve come a long way since then. And I can finally say that now, I am my own best friend.
The road to better self-esteem was anything but easy. And like anything worthwhile in life, it was hard work. But my life became much easier and much more enjoyable when I became my own friend.
I thought I was my own friend, my own alley, in every aspect of my own life. That I loved myself for everything that I was. And I do, mostly, for most of the time. But recently something happened that made me realize I’m not completely, one hundred percent there yet. It was hard, yet necessary for me to realize that. And it’s comforting to know that the road to becoming a better friend in that specific area of my life won’t be as hard, because I already built that road. I just need to walk it.
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie,
I’m talking about the confidence I have in myself as far as my academic goals and achievements go. Recently, someone proposed the idea to me that I would be a good candidate to transfer to university after getting the necessary college credits. For those of you who don’t know, in the Netherlands there are different levels of higher education. Very different then let’s say, the United States for example.
You are only allowed to go to (what we call) university when you finish the highest level of high school education or (in some cases) if you get a specific amount of college credit at a lower level of college education. Which is the idea that was proposed to me. Ya still following me? I want to stress that going to university over college isn’t always the best choice, depending on your goals in life. University education is much more abstract, analytical and theoretical, while ‘college’ (higher professional education or HBO) is usually much more focused on training for specific professions, with room for internships, etc.
Anyways, I’m getting a bit off track explaining the Dutch education system here. When this idea was proposed to me, my own reaction surprised me a lot, to be honest. The idea of going to university gave me anxiety. Because I – someone who had been told over and over again as a teenager that I could never even go to college – would never be intelligent enough to do such a thing. It was hard for me to even think about this being an option, let alone say it out loud. In my own head, Dalindcy and university just didn’t go together.
Am I really my own friend if I can’t even speak openly about this option? At least believing that it could be an option? I know what I would say if this exact situation happened to a friend. I would tell them that I would support them in their decision, guide them if necessary and just be there for them. At that moment, I wasn’t there for myself. And frankly, for a few days I was a terrible friend to me.
But I forced myself to talk about the subject with friends and family. And I’m not as uncomfortable thinking about it now. I learned that there are people who really do think that I could do this. That I’m not only ‘intelligent’ enough but also determined and disciplined enough.
And now I’m even going to a subject information evening at my local university, which is crazy to me. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like I’ve overcome a hurdle I didn’t know I needed to overcome. I’m anything but sure if I even want to perceive a university education after getting the necessary credits at my current college, but the fact that I am actively thinking about it is already a big step for me. I can do anything if I set my mind to it.