I used to think happiness was something you strived to become, like a profession.
When I was in grade school and my teacher would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer wasn’t the standard, doctor, teacher, engineer. No, my answer was to be happy. I think I may have even written a blog post a few years ago about my goal in life being that of happiness.
Now, even at that young age, I knew happiness was the key to living a great life. But by stating I wanted to be happy, that must have meant that I currently wasn’t.
On the outside, my family, peers, and friends may have perceived me as happy. On the inside, I was anything but. I was already battling self-acceptance, faced with the notion that you had to be X, Y, and Z to be “accepted” in today’s standards of beauty.
Qualities I thought I had none of.
I grew up in a time where there was no body acceptance or embrace your natural hair communities. At least, none I could recall. I vividly remember my mom relaxing my hair as I sat in front of her, crying my eyes out because my head felt like it was on fire, being burned by the chemicals that would solve all my hairstyling problems by making it bone straight. But I had to sit still to make sure she got all the kinks out. It wasn’t like I could blame my mother. Her own mother did the same. That was just the way things were.
Same shit, different decade.
I remember going for jogs with my older cousin, might have been ten or so, wondering why she was so thin and yet I was so fat. I mean, we generally did and ate the exact same things. Why did life have to be so unfair?
My daily internal thought was that I was not acceptable. I went through life with the whole woe is me mentality. Yet I told no one. To everyone else, I was the girl with the resting bitch face but if you got to know, was actually quite nice (and shy).
My defence mechanism was to show that I didn’t need anyone. That everything was fine, and life was something that you just had to suck up and do. That it was difficult for everyone, and we all needed to get over it.
Work your butt off at either school or your job (or both), pay your bills, and enjoy the weekends. Two blessed days just relaxing at home, unless you were working your second job, of course.
Then someone close to me died and life blew up like a bomb detonating inside my head. I don’t know what it’s like with other families but in mine, the solution to the loss of a loved one is to “stay strong”. In my family, crying is something you do not do.
So I didn’t. Unless I was in the privacy of my own space, of course.
I began to go through the motions of life again. I got up, went to work, came home, slept. Got up, went to work, came home, slept. Got up, went to work, came home, slept.
You get my drift.
I was on autopilot, and even though I didn’t want to admit it, I knew I could drown in my sorrows if I wasn’t careful. I stopped going out–not a difficult thing to do when you’re inherently an introvert. I stopped writing. How could I when the stories I love to write so much were pretty much a grief-fest of tragedy? Instead of writing, I transferred all my anxiety and heartache by focusing on the art of decluttering my life.
Oh, and I decluttered. Threw out, donated, gave away items like nobody’s business. It felt good to just let go of everything, like having less stuff translated to less stress and less things to worry about.
So I released it all.
And I relished in my introvertness. I mean, now I had a legitimate excuse to not see anyone. I started to feel okay about saying “no”. But then weeks past, months past, and more months past, and I remember talking to one of my friends on the phone. I recall her saying something and being 31 years old, and in her trail of thought–
Because the age she was saying she was didn’t make any sense to me. I was that age, and I’m a year older than her, so how could we possibly both be 31 years old?
While she continued to ramble, I took out my iPhone and calculated my age as I stared dumbfounded at the screen.
I was 32 and didn’t even know it.
Almost an entire year went by and I remained stagnant, just going through the motions of so-called life. Not actually living at all.
This was then followed by a mini mental breakdown in front of my mother.
I feel like all this had to happen, though. All these emotions had to come up in order for me to realize that I was in charge of my life. I was responsible for how I felt. And that I couldn’t continue to feel like I was this victim in this tragic story of my life, like all the characters I like to create so much.
It was okay to grieve but I had to move on. I had to take ownership.
So enter the world of YouTube and the art of self-help books.
I started binge watching videos about motivation, positive affirmations, meditation, and the law of attraction.
I re-read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Read The Four Agreements. Put a crap-load of self-help books in my to-read pile.
And I slowly started to practice what I was learning. I meditate. I get up at the crack of dawn to relish in me time. I sip on a cup of coffee and think of all the things I’m grateful for in my life. My family. My friends. My cozy bed. My future dog. Instead of just rolling out of bed as the alarm sounds and rushing to get ready for work.
I belt out to awesome music while driving to work instead of complaining of the traffic, or the asshole that just cut me off. I walk outside, appreciating the beauty of nature. I give myself a break and try not to be so hard on myself. Like damn, we’re our own worst critics. We all need to get over that because if we don’t love ourselves, who the hell else will?
I smile more, I hug more. I show my appreciation for the people in my life more. It’s more about seeing things as a glass half-full mentality as opposed to the dreaded near-empty glass. It’s about living in the moment and appreciating the things I have in my life, and doing all the things that bring me joy.
If I want to have bubble tea, I’ll have bubble tea.
If I want to rock out to Black Velvet or lip sync to Imagine Dragons or Drake songs, I’m all about that life.
If I want to go on a hike to see all the nature’s wonders, damn hell I will. I will pant my way up any trail, name the time and place.
And through it all, I started to feel good. Dare I say, happy? And I started to realize that you attract the things you focus on, and that happiness is something you choose to be. You either are or you aren’t, that’s up to you.
I choose to be happy.
That statement is huge for me, and the years that have gone by have only made me that much stronger and appreciative of this precious thing we call life.
So this space is a fresh start. A place to script out my life, a place to share my stories, both fiction and real, and a place to just ramble about whatever comes to my head. Because it’s what makes me happy, and I hope you enjoy being along for the ride.