As my senior year nears its midway point (crazy, right?), I have realized the importance of prioritizing healthy relationships and passions. In years past, I was determined to make borderline unhealthy relationships with some of my “friends” work because I’m not a quitter. I’m stubborn and loyal to a fault, meaning that I was often the one putting all of the effort into these relationships in order to keep them afloat.

However, over the course of my high school career and my summer experiences, I’ve developed into a more confident and determined individual. I have learned that my time and friendship is valuable and that pursing healthy relationships is not a selfish decision. As a result, I realized that I cannot sacrifice my personal happiness and success for people that do not genuinely care about me.

Life is crazy as it is, meaning that having people that love and support you- not tear you down- to guide you is more important than you may think. There are times in life where you have to take charge and be an advocate for yourself- whether that be in your personal life, student life, and/or work life. If you feel like you are constantly being dragged down by negative people or activities, you are not alone. How you spend you time and energy is ultimately up to you.

As I decided to prioritize the loving, supportive people in my life and my passions that mattered most, the people and things that once caused so many headaches faded into the background. Once I stopped putting the effort in, the relationships seemingly dissipated. My decision to focus on my personal health and happiness was one of the best I have made over the course of my high school years.

I still get criticized for my decisions by my former friends and peers, much like every teenager, but instead of focusing on their voices, I listen to the opinions of those who truly know me and care about me in the same way I do for them. The people in my life who know and love me are not going to abandon me in times of need- in the same way that I will always be there for them. Through this seemingly simple understanding, I have become a happier, more focused person.

My advice to my fellow grrlpunchers is not to settle for one-sided relationships. You deserve people in your life that cherish and respect your time and friendship. I’ve learned this lesson through trial and error, but especially in my senior year, in which I’ve finally understood that I simply do not have time for negative, hurtful people or activities. If you decide to focus on the people and passions that make you feel loved and joyful instead of pursuing toxic relationships, you will have a far happier, less drama-filled high school (and life) experience.

Love always,