Alright everyone, take a deep breath, because I’m about to get serious. I had an epiphany the other day that was troublesome at best. And while this blog is not meant to resemble my Xanga from junior high, I would like to discuss one of my biggest self-doubts. I mean, surely I’m not alone in my insecurities, and hopefully any readers who share my plight will benefit from this post.

So what the heck was the epiphany? I’ve named it, almost fondly, #2. Yes, like the pencil, or the Austin Powers’ character, or the second thing you do on a toilet (can you tell I just came off of an Orange is the New Black marathon)? In my case, however, the epiphany was that I feel that I am a #2, a runner up, second preferred when it comes to my friendships. Here I am in a new city, perfectly primed to make new friends, when it dawned on me suddenly why I find it so difficult to build friendships: it is my current mindset that by the time you reach your mid-twenties, you have a network of friends. Therefore, any new friend is, by default, second best. And what’s worse is that this mindset extends to my past and present relationships as well. Bottom line: I don’t often consider myself to be anyone’s #1. Whoa.

Have I lost you yet? I hope not. This is important. The essence of living a healthy, happy life is valuing yourself so that you can share your light and love with others. The consequences of not loving yourself and seeing your own self-worth are not solely contained to you. Imagine a world where no one saw their own self-worth: we would not share with one another, encourage each other, or help each other grow. Advances in science would be lost. The arts would crumble. Neglect or violence would consume nations. It is imperative that we love and value ourselves enough to love and value one another.

My circumstances do not need to change. Frequently, flaws in mindset outweigh flaws in what life has dealt us; and, moreover, mindset is often easier to reset than are physical circumstances. My challenge is to invest in new friendships. I will not let myself fade in and out of people’s lives just because I feel, inaccurately, that they do not need me or value me as a friend simply because they have others. Readjusting mindset is a process. Becoming self-aware is the very first step. I challenge you, as well, to consider your current insecurities. If you can identify a single belief that holds you back, take action now. Correct the old thoughts and habits, and shape them into new, productive patterns. Envision what you want for your life, how you want others to see the real you, and go forth with confidence!