My friends sometimes ask me, “What makes you happy?” and I usually give fluffed answers–boba and the people I love. However, before November, I couldn’t remember the last time I felt truly happy. I’d buy boba every week and spend time with my friends or family, yet my happiness was temporary. Fortunately, I now feel happy almost every day because I left my grudges in the past and allowed myself to start over again.

It wasn’t easy, though. Finding happiness required three different changes–conquering negative thinking, finding a happy place and understanding my purpose. While this criteria may seem simple, it felt like an endless battle to fight through.

I used to ruminate more on bad thoughts than good ones, so I couldn’t seem to overcome grudges despite how much I wanted to. Since I kept telling myself to stop being upset over my misfortune, I’d linger on the thoughts even longer. I later turned to acknowledging my negative cycles instead. “I need to stop thinking about my breakup,” turned into, “I am thinking about my breakup.”

Although I have never affiliated myself with a set group in high school, there were people I spent time with who would strip away my positive attitude. Being in a toxic environment made me underestimate myself. Unhappy with the aura I was constantly surrounded by, I found myself gravitating more towards open and loving individuals who provide more social opportunities for me.

Putting myself out there to make better friends helped me look at the world differently. At first, all I ever thought about was finding happiness and avoiding negativity at all costs. However, I later realized that my purpose in life is to make a difference in whatever way I can, whether it be through teaching HTML to kids or hosting a female empowerment event.

The new year is approaching, which means it’s the perfect time to have a fresh start. Take this coming year as an opportunity to learn from the bad times in 2018. Forget that person who flaked on you in February and forgive your mom for revoking you car privileges in October. Stand up and keep you head high–2019 will look brighter once you leave all of your grudges in the past.

How was your year?