Knowing When to Give and How to Grow: How Navigate a World Where We Settle For Less Than We Deserve

Angelina Astic, Contents/Copy Editor

As the world, society and our generation grow older, we do not always grow wiser with it. There is a lot that we, because we are human and make mistakes, allow ourselves to put up with. We see the good in people. We look for an answer to the unsolvable. We make space for energy that has no business being there. There is a lot one may do for validation, love and simply just the knowledge that someone cares about us and our well beings…but when do we decide enough is enough? When did we decide to settle for less than we deserve?

I speak of us because this is an issue affecting every single individual. We all, in one way or another, walk through this situation as a collective. Friendships continue because of fear of a lack of friends, no matter how toxic, draining or “fake” they may be. Relationships are prolonged and mundane because of all the shared history behind them. We allow others to encroach into our safe spaces, toying with our thoughts, actions and feelings, just to change the very next moment. 

There is a certain comfortability factor when it comes to specific people, places and relationships that always creeps back. An ex-friend, ex-partner, ex-situationship, ex-fling, you name it, was once a safe space where you could go and be your most genuine self, free of outside judgment. Maybe it was healthy and ended on good terms, maybe it was unhealthy, but it feels familiar, and something that you go back to because it is what feels like home.

When I was little, I had someone — a key figure — walk out of my life. It has forever altered my perspective on love and what it means to cherish, appreciate and support others. Part of me is so grateful, because I feel that it has helped shape me and allowed me to become a more empathetic and understanding person. I try, as best as any teenage girl can, to measure the weight of my words and the impact my actions may have and to help those around me in any way I can. We all deserve to have someone in our corner, a constant who we know we can turn to, rain or shine, to uplift and encourage us. 

Part of me is hurt, because there have been moments where I, like so many in my life, have ignored the signs — the red flags — and continued to be there for those who honestly did not deserve that level of dedication and support in their lives. I know myself, my character and my heart. I know I will always be a safe space for others. I also know that while I will always be there to love and cheer others on, the person who, at the end of the day, deserves my encouragement the most is myself.  

I always say that we all deserve happiness. No matter how much we have to fight for it. No matter how much self-reflection it takes. No matter how many realizations we have to force ourselves to come to. You are the person most worth saving. Read that again. In the midst of saving others, remember to save yourself. 

Slowly, I have seen such an interesting wave of growth around me, specifically amongst my peers. While painful, we all are slowly starting to know our worth. We are putting in the work, trying to become better people for ourselves, our families, our friends and our world. We begin to joke about the past and start to feel hopeful about our futures. We lean on one another while building each other up. We are learning when to give and how to grow.