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This I Believe: Independence Creates Happiness

Stepanie Dunn headshot
Dan LoGrasso
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

In middle school I asked  myself a lot of questions. Why do I have multiple teachers? Why is my body changing so much? Why do I feel attraction to all these boys? One thing I thought I knew was love; I loved my family so I completely understood what love was and what it took to love someone for life, right? In eighth grade I started “dating” Joe. It was the stereotypical boyfriend/girlfriend, middle school relationship. Our parents drove us to and from our houses watching movies, playing video games, and going to the park to kick a soccer ball around.

I did regret what I lost. I personally turned into being so dependent... that I did not care about so many other more important things.

I knew I was surely in love. I could feel the pain as I left him when I returned to my own home and, as I slept, I dreamt only of him. Lightheaded, cloudy bliss. I’d had “boyfriends” before then but they never meant as much to me. Joe and I had our arguments; what relationship didn’t?  We had our breaks; again, what relationship didn’t? We were going to make it through it all. We felt it. We would be together in a castle forever and “once upon a time ago” would be our beginning to our prince-and-princess fairytale. Despite the negativity from others, I knew we would be together forever. After that I tried so hard to love him forever, to prove them wrong, blocking out the rest of my life for him. The happily ever after ended in two and a half years. Forever wasn’t as long as I thought.

As I look back now, I didn’t regret much about our time together. I did regret what I lost. Love can be a beautiful thing. However, I personally turned into being so dependent on having Joe forever that I didn’t care about so many other more important things. Therefore, I believe in independence. Like yin and yang, I believe that there needs to be balance in my life. It takes yourself to find happiness and life purpose. It took my experience from dating Joe to realize that for me to be happy I needed to focus on myself. I spend my time getting an education and doing things that are good for other people without having to depend on them. I have big plans for my future. Right now I have over a 5.0 GPA on a weighted scale on top of having a part-time job and being involved in numerous extra curricular activities. I keep my head clear and focused on what I need to accomplish. I am happy. I am independent. I know now that once I focus on myself love will follow. After all, I am the only one that is with me from birth to death so I believe to let myself be independent; to live, to love, to be happy for no one else.

And so she lived happily ever after. 

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