Finding happiness has been weighing heavily on my mind lately…on account of my own personal wants and desires, and on account of a national climate of seemingly constant anger and outrage.
I’m overall a pretty happy person, but I’ve spent time desperately unhappy in my life. I mean, I have my days of intense crabbiness and aggravation now, but nothing like it used to be. Back then, I’d try to forget about it with alcohol and sleep and boys at parties. Not soooo many years ago, I remember sitting in the parking lot of my then-job, weighing the pain of a broken leg against potential time off work. Yep. (For the record, I got out of the car and went to work.) So for anyone that thinks I’ve got my shit together…I’m working on it…but I still remember that desperate, out-of-control feeling I had in those days. And I’ll be the first to say, nobody is immune to that…everyone has bad stuff to deal with…it’s just different bad stuff for different people. And at the other end of the “comparison is the thief of joy” spectrum, comparing our bad stuff to other peoples’ bad stuff is pretty irrelevant at the end of the day…it’s how we deal with it that matters.
So then there’s the whole ‘pursuit of happiness’ thing. That ‘pursuit’ word is a tricky one. It seems like it was so much easier to just BE happy when I was a kid…when I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and everything seemed easy. But the world doesn’t owe anyone happy…at some point, we have to find it for ourselves. Whatever it is that changes that state of ‘being’ to a ‘pursuit’ is different for everyone. I think for a lot of people, it’s probably when you start being responsible for yourself…or maybe when you start being responsible for someone else. For me, it was my dad’s battle with cancer.
I was in college when Dad passed away. And I’ll say, if the death of a loved one doesn’t call into question your outlook on life, I don’t know what will. People deal with loss in different ways…some people hide from the world, and some people hide from themselves. I was a hide from myself-er. I carefully arranged all the pieces of my life for maximum normalcy. I loaded up my class schedule so I could still graduate in 4 1/2 years (even though I had switched schools twice, took a half a semester off, and changed majors), I got A’s in my classes, I joined an Honor’s Society, and I went out drinking with my friends six nights a week. I checked all the little boxes in my life. I made it a point to show everyone (including myself) that I was okay…and sometimes I was.
In hindsight, I think maybe my college boyfriend had me figured out…probably because he had moved on to the ‘pursuit’ stage of his life too. He saw my pursuit of perfection for what it was. And pursuit of perfection sure isn’t the same thing as pursuit of happiness. At the time, I was just mad that he’d called me out on it. In any event, the real world, post-college, was what it took for me to realize that you couldn’t get to happy with a to-do list of mandated fun and normalcy.
So, self-awareness is half the battle, right? For me…notsomuch. As the intensely impatient person I tend to be, this whole never-ending process of ‘pursuit’ isn’t my favorite thing. I want it fixed and I want it fixed NOW. But I’m chipping away at it. Fighting for who I want to be and what I want to do with my life. Developing myself, making small choices every day that will hopefully lead me to where I want to be in the long term…and hanging onto the long view when the short-term picture gets frustrating. (Admittedly, that little piece of the puzzle is NOT my strong suit.) It’s always a choice, and some days that choice is easy, and some days it’s hard, and some days it seems like an epic freaking battle. And when I really just need a minute (or an hour, or a day, or even a whole weekend) of relaxing and resetting, I bust out my oil stash, rev up the diffuser, and color…or make jewelry…or scrapbook…or whatever little quiet, creative endeavor I can get my hands on, really. Something to bring me back to myself and make me smile for now, so I can figure out the next move that’ll make me smile later 🙂 And for the most part, I’m really happy. There’s always crappy days, obviously, but I’m not Groundhog Day-ing them over and over again. I’m taking a breath and moving on to something better.
Pursuit…that’s what we’ve got…no matter what else happens. Doing the right thing…putting out into the world what we’re hoping to get back…making better decisions…working our butts off in the direction of where we’d like to be, pursuit. Doing a little more…finding a little peace…giving ourselves a little grace, pursuit. It’s never going to be perfect…just keep working on making it better a little at a time, pursuit.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. And now I’m off to work on some more jewelry, cuz I’m still coming off of inventory at work, and the daily news is a bit much right now, and my heart needs a little extra happy today 🙂 Smile!