02/08/2013 06:41 pm ET Updated Apr 10, 2013

Drive Your Own Life

When I was younger, I would look at people driving in their cars and talk about the difference between someone driving a car they didn't necessarily love to drive, and "driving" a car (overemphasis on the word driving); blasting music, singing to the words of their favorite song, windows open with their hair being blown. I always thought, it must be the car; people who had fast, fun cars loved to drive them and people who had slower minivans were just miserable.

Now that I am all grown up, I see things differently. It is not about the car you are driving, it is about the person behind the wheel. It is super easy to let others drive your life for you. Your friends, your family, your relationship, everyone has an opinion on the direction you should go, the people you should work with -- the person you should grow up into. If you do not do the work to make sure your oil is checked, and you have enough gas in your tank, and your engine is running, you could be running on empty without even knowing it.

For a long time, I felt like I was running after myself -- like I was playing a game of catch up, watching my life go by, wondering why I made certain decisions. I started to realize on my birthday how much control I took over my own life over the past year. Your birthday is a time where all the people in your life from all walks of life reach out to you, say nice things about you, and make you feel like a princess -- but it is also a day for you to be able to do the same for everyone who reaches out. It is a celebration of a year's worth of mistakes, relationship blunders, and all of the positive decisions you have made that have brought you to this day.

During one of my celebrations, my friend decided to go around the room and have everyone say something nice about me. This is awkward to say the least, but everyone in the room commented on how every time they meet someone through me, they know they are a good person. They went further to say that I "attract" good, quality people. I explained how hard this was to do. I have found that when you start to attract people who are negative, who say nasty things to you, who bring you down, you usually end up blaming them -- but in reality you should point the finger at yourself. You should look under the hood, and find out what is wrong with your engine, your paint job or your oil, because something in you is not driving correctly. When you don't put the work in yourself, when you let everyone else make decisions for you, when you don't take time to just figure out what you want, who you are and what you need, you will feel like you have no control.

The first step is recognizing that you are the driver of your own life. You have complete control over the decisions you make, the people you surround yourself with, the way you maintain your relationships. No one's definitions, preconceived notions or directions have to define you. I am not saying to not take your loved ones into consideration when making such decisions, but I am saying to make sure you are the one behind the wheel, and to never be afraid to blast the music, sing all the lyrics to your favorite song, and let the wind blow your hair all over the place; it is more than OK to enjoy the ride.

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