Growing up I believed that everything would work out as I had planned. I followed the right steps, went to college, majored in finance thinking I would be rich and successful, had a great relationship and job – then just like that it all crumpled right before my eyes.

I thought at 22 years old I had it all so when things didn’t work out as planned I was devastated and depressed. I thought I was worthless and embarrassed as to what others would think of me.

What I’ve learned throughout this past year is you cannot plan your life because things just don’t workout as you’ve expected them to – and that’s okay. What’s important is to never lose hope and know that there are better days to come even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment.

Through perseverance and preservation of my confidence and dignity I know I will be where I want to be one day. I know I will be happy and live the life I want to lead – regardless of what others may think of me. This is my life and I am going to do what makes me happy. The key is to take it day by day, be kind to others, and share your story so that others know they are not alone in their struggles.

I recently saw a quote that really spoke to me. “What if pain can also be progress? Life doesn’t always go as planned. Instead of letting obstacles derail you, shift your perspective to see the pain point as an opportunity and powerful growth tool.”

So, stop comparing yourself to others – nobody is perfect no matter how much they may look it on social media. Everybody has their demons that they struggle with. Pain is real and alive but we must use that pain as a catalyst to make ourselves into better people. Only from there may we grow into our best self, with success and happiness to follow.