How I learned to be happy for others.
(the hard way)
Straight out of university, the freedom of choice was paralyzing. There were too many options — some riskier, some easier. I opted for a fairly low-key option by taking a full-time position at a small tech-startup. Not a dream job of mine by any means, but it meant I could support myself and live sans-parents.
But people started doing things. People started going after what they wanted. Auditioning for shows, moving cities, making business plans, seeking investors, etc etc. I knew what I wanted, and it kept making its way to the front of my mind. And I kept dismissing it, due to a higher-than-normal amount of self-doubt.
Slowly but surely, I became pessimistic. Every piece of someone else’s accomplishment hit me harder and harder, in the worst way possible. I offered my congratulations. I smiled. But eventually I had given all I had to offer and could not extract any more praise. I was, positively, exhausted. Call it jealousy, call it envy. Probably a mix of many negative feelings.
My point of view became beyond skewed, but I still thought I was doing something right. I sought happiness by association – via the accomplishments of people I chose to surround myself with. I thought that could work, because I was too scared/unwilling to go after what I wanted. Yet every time that failed me, I fell harder once again. I craved solitude — rain, clouds, and silence. To be in a space where no one’s positivity could infringe on my negative peace and make me feel worse about myself. It almost felt easier to just wallow in a state of monotonous neutrality than to try and be happy.
I started to become unsure I would ever have the capacity to share in someone else’s joy. How could I truly love and appreciate someone if my praise was genuine at the time, but the aftershock left me paralyzed with sadness, feeling sorry for myself. But also feeling sorry for the other person — they had no idea.
All the while, I could feel something starting to catch up with me big time. The thing I’ve been dying to pursue. The thing I haven’t gone one day without thinking about. So why wasn’t I giving it 100%?! Maybe because that seemed like so much work. It seemed so hard. I wasn’t good enough. It was too late. The excuses arrived to the party in full force.
Nobody can make you happy until you’re happy with yourself.
All this while, I’v been fighting a horribly pointless battle against myself. Spending precious energy on distracting myself. I know what I want. The dumb, boring, too-rational part of me has been too loud for too long, and I’m beyond ready to shut it off, and take hold of the future I want.
I really don’t know what my turning point was. Maybe it was when my inability to be happy for another person contributed to the end of a year-long relationship. Maybe then I clued in to everything I was doing backwards. I thought I could be happy within the relationship — just by being, but ignoring what I actually needed for personal fulfillment.
It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self-love deficit.
I mean, I’m really just grateful that I realized what was going on before I spent my entire life chasing a happiness and fulfilment that was never going to be truly my own. I’m excited to seriously begin my journey and develop the capacity to share joy with those around me. Because the only way to be happy for someone else, is to truly be happy with yourself.
This is my open apology for a crime no one knows I’ve committed. I’m sorry to everyone I couldn’t be happy for. I’m sorry if I wrongly blamed you for my unhappiness. I’m sorry it took me this long to figure it out. If anything, I want to thank you all for showing me that happiness exists. I’m working on myself now, so that I can show up to your figurative party with pure and honest gratitude. I hope we can all take on this world together, with joy bursting from within each one of us, and spreading it to those who need it, inspiring others to find it for themselves.