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Opinion: Advice on happiness with yourself and in relationships

Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at askogonna@gmail.com and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna.


Reader: What are you thoughts on how to truly be happy and confident with who you are? Like what tips/advice would you give?

Ogonna: I don’t know about you, but I say the key to happiness and confidence is to stop comparing, and just start living.

In the words of Mr. Kanye West — during his pre-autotune days (circa “The College Dropout”) — we all have this notion of being insecure. In “All Falls Down,” the rapper and fellow Kardashian-lover claims, “We all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it.”

We compare ourselves way too much. Every day. All the time. We think that if we only have that wardrobe, or that boyfriend or girlfriend, or get perfect grades in every class, then we’d be perfectly happy. But we can never achieve this ideal, this standard that our society sets. In reality, you’ll outgrow those clothes, or a new style will begin trending. Relationships are never perfect because those people you love will inevitably disappoint. Hey, we’re human, we’re flawed, so we make mistakes. And school. We all know that school can easily burst our ego bubbles after any given exam period.

These things do not satisfy, but I know I still chase after them because I think they will. We compare ourselves to those who have these things and think “if only.” Or, we compare ourselves to our past and focus too much on our futures in a way that prevents us from living in the present moment. We’re too busy thinking that we have to get there to be happy.

To me, happiness is temporary. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, a positive one, yes, but still fleeting. Take Chipotle, for example. I could have crashed my car, failed a midterm and lost my keys all in an hour, but when I smell that heavenly scent of a chicken burrito from Chipotle, I instantly feel better. I’m happy in that moment, 100 percent satisfied.

As young adults who are growing and changing, I do think it’s important to keep evolving our thoughts, mindsets, interactions and lifestyles in order to learn more about who we are and become the best version of ourselves. But what we get caught up on is this ideal image that we will never be able to reach. If we’re not comparing ourselves to each other, we’re comparing ourselves to our past.

As my home girl Beyoncé says, “You wake up — flawless.” To me, this does not mean we are perfect. To me, this means we wake up as flawless humans, but being human in itself is to be an imperfect being. It is both our successes and mistakes, the big moments and little ones that make our stories, that make us who we are. Once we embrace that about ourselves, embrace the fact that we can wake up “flawless” and live as perfectly imperfect humans, we can embrace that we are enough.

Reader: How do you deal with loving someone in their twenties as a person who wants long-term and commitment, when we are always on our feet and moving around? In short, what’s the best way to balance the fact that my life has to go on and I may need to do my own thing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want you beside me!

Ogonna: I think that we are in a delicate place in our lives as young people. We have amazing opportunities to be adventurous while still learning, constantly expanding our mindsets in fun and creative ways. Many times, our greatest experiences have been with those who we love and cherish. I strongly advocate that we should take the time now to be with those who make us happy as much as possible, but I don’t think that is always feasible.

You might have answered your question yourself in saying, “I may need to do my own thing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want you beside me.”

We all have different paths in our lives and timing is everything. While the sentiment is clearly there that you want to be with this person and maintain whatever relationship you have, it might not be the best time to do so or it might not even be possible. You want to put in time, dedication and energy into a relationship, but if you have other plans that also require your attention, you might not be able to have the ideal relationship you want at the time. Even if you do get to be with this person physically, your thoughts might be in a different place, concerned with a job or school work.

While every relationship is unique, I think one thing that might help is understanding you might not be able to have your cake and eat it too — at least at this moment. Regardless, I think it’s important to express the sentiment of wanting to be with this person, but knowing that your place might be somewhere this person can’t accompany you. There will always be some give and take, but ensuring you’re on the same page emotionally will allow you both to come up with a plan of action of sorts on whether or not there needs to be distance, physically and/or emotionally. And perhaps you will get to still be in each other’s lives, if not in the exact way you want. You can still be friends and offer support.

Keep the people who make you happy in your life as much as possible, in any way possible, but know when you need to take time for yourself as well.

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