I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to write this article because honestly, it is hard for me to be open about this topic.

For many years I thought that the key to happiness lied in being successful from an educational and career point of view.

The year 2016 started off great; I had a full-time job, I graduated, and I became a vegetarian. With that certainty I moved into my own apartment and started decorating everything according to my own personal style. I invested most of my time in my job, making long working days the norm while neglecting my beloved friends and family. Anyone who knows me personally understood that I was passionate about my job.

Due to reorganization, unfortunately, I lost my position at work. The day I received the horrible news, I cried from the moment I left the building until the very moment I fell asleep. The next morning I woke up in tears asking myself:

What am I going to do with my apartment?

How am I going to pay my costs of living?

What about my close team members?

Will I ever find such a great job again?

Will I ever be as happy as I was just days ago?

Once you reach a difficult phase in life, you will get to know others and yourself.

My situation was comparable to a mirror being put in front of me continuously. At first I was doubting everything: my talent, my faith, and myself. It was almost art to remind myself of my self-worth and talents. On the other hand, I knew that God gave me this challenge for me to grow. The situation reminds me how selfish I was actually being. Even after someone would try to help or love me, I would only neglect them--and I am so sorry for that.

I pushed aside my passions in order to completely dedicate myself to my career.

Currently, I am doing the things I love--writing, photography and painting--with more passion. Each day I realize that I misunderstood the key to my happiness. One thing I did not realize is that whatever phase, hard or easy, we go through in life we should be grateful. When we rise in the morning we should be appreciative for the first breath we released, for the fact that we have a job, family and our passions. I should have taken the effort to meet up with people more often, to offer them the shoulder they needed when going through hard times and to share laughter whenever we want to share moments of joy. My key to happiness lies in me being surrounded by cheerful, creative colleagues, friends, and family members. People are one of the main sources of my energy.

I now realize that love is an act of giving and taking.

Therefore, I want to commit myself to volunteering activities and follow the footsteps of my mother who is a volunteer at an Alzheimer's nursing organization. I want to start picking up the things I love and dedicate more of myself to it. I will stop regretting things because life's too short to feel regret. From now on, I will allow myself the space to learn from my mistakes in order to become a better person. 2016 was a great year for me, regardless the difficulties I encounter--or have encountered. In the end, being successful entails doing what you love while being surrounded by great people.

What do you truly want to make better about yourself in 2017?

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