We live in a world filled with demands and expectations—what’s right and wrong, good and bad, what will show success and not a failure. There are many voices telling us what to wear, what to eat, how to exercise, whom to marry, and what we should achieve. Even our bodies are great targets for judgment. In our quest to fit in and do the right thing, we create stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and depression. Not feeling great, or even well, has become the norm for many.

After spending long nights awake, wondering what I was missing in my life and why I am not happy, I realized I had been living someone else’s life. Other people’s. Society’s. My family’s. Anyone’s but my own and I found out that what was missing in my life was me.

I looked behind and saw that I had been living life based on what other people expected, so that I didn’t even know what was true for me anymore. So, I asked myself: “Who is in the driver’s seat of your life? Your job? Your family? The changing wind of life’s circumstances? Is my life the way I want it to be? Something was blocking me from jumping into the driver’s seat of my life. I decided to create a life where I’m included—a life that’s different, more joyful, and vibrant.

We’re all spiritually, emotionally, and physically aware beings. We pick up stuff from the world around us—and the result is that many of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions aren’t our own. Instead, we pick them up in different conversations, situations, and motivations from those around us. Mostly, we look for someone else to acknowledge us when we’re not acknowledging ourselves. In the past, what I really longed for was to be seen. To be validated. Today I know that only I—no one else—can give myself a sense of worth. Acknowledging that opens up the magical place I knew as a little girl—the magical place where everything is possible because everything I need is within me. It also helps to actively choose to see what’s beautiful and amazing instead of what’s missing and wrong.

Try to think of what your passions are, what really lights you up and makes you happy. Once you decide what makes you happy, find a way to do that now. Not tomorrow, not next week, and certainly not when you retire. Life is to be lived and enjoyed in the moment, so do it now! Whether you start writing for fun, volunteer at a shelter, or start a new business, take some action today. Your passion will catapult you forward to more of the same and in no time, you will find yourself living the life of your dreams! Chances are if you haven’t been living the life you want, you have some major fears and blocks that are holding you back. Try to think of your blocks and find out what caused them. After that, find ways to break and overcome those obstacles. Do not let your fears manage your life.

If you find yourself buying into a point of view that doesn’t feel right, ask yourself: “Is this point of view mine? Did I buy into it somewhere along the line? Am I choosing what’s true for me or what everyone else is choosing?”

Understanding how the different points of view around you become the filters through which you see and create your life opens a space where you can start looking at them and asking if they serve you. If they don’t, why keep them? They’re not you. You are.