I was taught from a young age to smile and nod.

As a small girl, the ideology that being polite was important was relentlessly drilled into me. This conditioning took full effect and apparently, it never left, because lately, I find myself caring more about the well being of others than that of myself.

The beliefs of the influential people in my life when I was young manifested themselves into my daily behaviour as I grew older. Of course, I cannot pass all the blame to them. I have dug myself into this hole, and I have allowed my condition to progressively worsen until I am where I am today: I am struggling with the truth that I do not respect myself enough.

I become afraid to voice my own opinion if it will put others down. My conscience stops me from making jokes at the cost of my own friends. When a stranger bumps into me in the hallways, I am the one that apologizes, even if it is rarely my fault. I find it very difficult to say no, a trait that I inherited from my mother, and as a result, I am continuously tied down by the unnecessary commitments I make.

What’s more, when I accomplish something, I never let myself rejoice—especially not in public. No, never. Because almost as bad as being impolite is being cocky. I need to be modest. Humble, so that whenever I achieve something, I do not bask in the glory. I play it off. And whenever a compliment comes my way, I shrug it off and deny it ceaselessly.  I undermine myself.

Now that I think about it, how can I ever expect to be respected by others if even I cannot respect myself? This is something that I need to work on. I must realize that being assertive is not being impolite, and being proud and confident is not the same as being conceited and boastful.

Perhaps realizing this truth can be said to be the first step in my path to recovery. Now that I have recognized the need for change, I can work towards it, slowly but surely.

I don’t know how, but it will happen—

I will learn to say no. I will learn to stop worrying about what the people around me think.

I will stop living for the sake of others, and maybe, just maybe,

I will start living for myself.