In 1992, I began dating a girl that completely knocked me sideways. The entire build-up to the relationship was incredible, and the celebration dance that took place after our first real date was one that, thankfully, can (and will) never be repeated. So you can imagine, then, how I felt when - after only a few short months - I picked up on the fact that she definitely wasn't into it anymore (I came to call this my "Spidey sense" later - but more on that some other time).
Regardless, I went over to her house that day and we had the usual overly-dramatic conversation that accompanies the break-up of a relatively short relationship... no yelling, mind you, just the morose (and at times pathetic) back-and-forth when one person doesn't want to end it, and the other person doesn't have the nerve to just cut it off. I had to leave for a few hours at that point - I was working that night, in a mock-casino for charity in the character of Louie (a 1920's gangster, right down to the spats and fedora).
Now, none of the customers there would have cared less about my problems - so, of course, I put on the smile and forced myself to be funny, and charming, and above all else - entertaining. And while I drove home that night, I realized that pretending to be in a good mood had an unexpected effect... I actually was in a good mood. In that moment, I hit on a truth, something that has stuck with me ever since and which was summed up by a line from the 1999 movie "The Iron Giant": You are who you choose to be...
Life doesn't dictate to you - you dictate to life. The moment you start feeling like a victim, the moment you start allowing everything around you to direct how you feel/act/believe - that's the moment you begin to lose out on who you are.
You are who you choose to be.
Oh - and on a side note, I went back to the girl's house and we had a very, very ugly and break-up, full of groveling (mine) and loss of dignity (still mine)... so while, yes, I had a huge epiphany that day, it took a little time for the lesson to sink in. Don't beat yourself up too badly if you aren't able to make the change right away - but never stop trying.