A few weekends back, a person kindly informed me that I was not good enough for them. Sorry, that’s not right. The direct quote was, “I am bored with you.”

In that moment, I felt my once-present confidence shatter as a bruised ego began to take over. I internalized those words and began to think that if one person thought of me in this way, then others must think so, too. If a person that I regarded so highly thought so little of me, what did that say about me?

I suppose this came at a convenient time, considering the end of the semester is near, and as a soon-to-be college graduate, it was presumably time I started the “finding yourself” process. Of course, it is nowhere near complete, and probably never will be, but the start of the journey has been enlightening for me in ways that I felt compelled to share.

The first step was to examine why I was letting a single person affect how I viewed myself, because as someone who generally disregards others’ ideas about me, I was not used to having my self-perception become so skewed. The reason? Rejection. The vulnerability of leaving school and not yet knowing what I want to do has affected me more than I anticipated. It unknowingly rocked my sense of confidence and created an open space that let rejection affect me. So when this person came at me with words that had already been somewhat present in another area of my life, the two paths merged, and I let someone else’s words negatively impact my view of myself.

Once I realized that what bothered me was the notion of rejection rather than this particular person, I wanted to find a way to combat it. I’m not usually a competitive person, but having my perspective shaken up motivated me—not to prove to him why I was good enough, but to prove to myself why rejection, in any form, couldn’t bring me down. When I realized that I was doing it for myself and not for another person, I found a piece of myself coming back. My integrity. Standing true to what I believe in for my own sake. I’ve always valued integrity because I feel it represents strength, honesty, confidence, and strong morals. What I didn’t know until recently is that integrity is not simply a concept I value. Rather, it is a part of who I am and represents my character in a way that I am proud of.

And just like that, I had found a missing puzzle piece.

But I was stuck: How was I to proceed in the journey of finding myself? It sounds like a process that should come without trying—after all, it seems somewhat ridiculous to consciously proceed on the path of finding yourself. If I tried too hard, my decisions would certainly have been influenced by my wanting to render a particular answer. So I abandoned the project and carried on with my new-found puzzle piece clutched tightly to my chest.

And as the following weeks ensued, a surprising amount of success followed me. Though they were only small tokens of success, the continual positivity influenced me to keep working towards my goals of bettering myself. As my peers began to complain about “senioritis,” I found a new sense of motivation in terms of my academics. The typical nauseous feeling I got when I thought about post-grad employment was suddenly disappearing, and the dread of running into the ever-so-lovely person who dumped me at Coachella was no longer present.

Seriously, what was happening?

For the life of me, I could not uncover the mystery of why every part of my daily life was changing, albeit in a good way. I was trying to formulate some complex reason for my newfound demeanor until the simplicity of it practically hit me in the face: I was being myself.

A shocking concept, I know. Yet in this college environment where hypocrisy and competition are ever-present among us, it is all too easy to get entangled in the web of our peers and seemingly perfect ideals. But those few weeks of utter disregard allowed me to find a part of myself that is the simplest yet most difficult to reveal: being me. I am still not sure of what this means in exact definition, yet in its purest form, I take it to mean that I am regaining a sense of confidence too strong to let anyone influence how I see myself. I do not want to confuse confidence with cockiness; what I mean by confidence is that I believe with certainty in my values and my ability to make a positive life for myself. There is no longer reason for me to rely on anyone else but myself.

I think that being myself has allowed me to discover another piece of the ‘finding yourself’ puzzle. In becoming myself, I can unapologetically do the things that make me happy. And in life’s simplest form, isn’t that all I need?

I don’t particularly want to thank the person who told me he was bored of me, but in a way, I suppose I can partially credit it to him, because without that conversation, my ‘finding yourself’ process would have started later, post-graduation, and that could have been even more disastrous—because, real world, am I right?

I am nowhere near finding the end, but I am looking forward to living it through and finding a sense of completeness.