“When I counted up my demons, saw there was one for every day…with the good ones on my shoulders, I drove the other ones away…”
Whenever people say, “All I want to be in life is to be happy,” I kind of put an asterisk next to their name in my head. I think everyone wants to be happy, that’s pretty much a given. No one that I know goes out determined to be miserable. The ‘happy’ part isn’t the problem, it’s the ‘all I want’. When it comes down to it, happiness is a selfish pursuit. Being happy because you want to feel good all the time just sounds empty. For the first twenty-two years of my life, this is what I subscribed to. I believed that happiness, bliss, was my goal, and that, in fact, I deserved it. Shouldn’t happiness be everyone’s right? Surely it should be mine. Every obstacle, every impasse that stood between me and my happiness was someone else’s fault. On the rare occasions where I knew that I screwed up, I always told myself that there would be a next time, that it wasn’t that bad, that somehow it will all work out.
I don’t know when that changed, but somewhere along the way, it did. My parents loved me, that I always knew, but they were never easy on me. I did that for them, I was always easy on myself. My thought was always ‘close enough’ and I was always angry at how no matter how well I did, it was never good enough for them. My mom would always scold me, “it’s not the result, it’s whether you did your best.” And for a long time, no matter what, I never did my best. I did just enough. Just enough to get by, just enough to look good in front of people that I wanted to look good in front of.
I don’t know what ended up happening, whether it was one sudden realization, or something that happened over a certain passage of time, but I remember watching an old re-run of Scrubs and something that Dr. Kelso said was burned in my mind.
“Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy.”
That was it. That summed everything up. Everything that I wanted in life, the things that I said I wanted since I was little, I realized that I’d never worked hard enough for. I just wanted to be happy. I wanted to just hang around and enjoy myself. That’s a life wasted, and finally everything came into focus. All at once, guilt and shame washed over me, for having wasted so much of my life being selfish and lazy. I spent a few days feeling sorry for myself, and then I started trying to change myself, which was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life.
We try to make so much of moments of clarity or sudden realizations, but the truth of the matter is that it’s a grind. It’s one small step at a time, and you don’t notice how far you’ve come until you look back, in a month, a year, or a decade. The thing is when you grind though, you lose a part of yourself, sometimes more than you know. Appreciating the small stuff along the way makes the grind tolerable on days when you feel like you’re running a bit empty.
So, I just wanted to say thank you, to everyone. I lead a pretty independent life. I like living free of constraints, but don’t for one second believe that I don’t treasure every note, every conversation, every laugh, and even every person who reads my rantings on here, because at the end of the day, it’s all part of what makes us human, and ultimately what makes it all worth it.
So, I guess that question is, am I happy? Sometimes, but that’s not really that important. I know where I want to go, and I know how I’m going to get there.
One step at a time.