I’ve spent the past few years caught up in the process of healing. With that narrowed focus it becomes hard to live in the moment. I found that even in trying to heal, I had a mountain of expectations that I held myself and others to. And while expectations can give us structure, sometimes they tighten the reins over what might have been a gentle process. They can steer us to hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing.
Why am I not better?
Because I have no chill. It’s been years since I’ve had chill. I cannot stay calm and carry on, as those are a painfully ambiguous set of directions. I want to choose happiness so badly it hurts. But what to do when depression and fear seem to have chosen me?
I lean in. I say, “it’s okay”. And it is: it is okay to be upset, to cry, to lay in bed, to be afraid. It is so important that I give myself breathing room. In the literal sense, is it okay that I’m hurting? No, it’s super painful! But it is not in a sense right or wrong, good or bad. My circumstances or my emotions are not my enemy. With that small sense of neutrality, I allow myself the space to ask questions: why do I feel like this? What do I do that makes me feel better? I’ve made a list of such things. Here are five examples, in no particular order: chocolate, stickers, sunshine, dogs (especially my dog), and Disney films.
It is not a particularly grown-up list, but then I like simplicity. These work for me.
Happiness is not a clearly-defined destination. For that reason (and some others) it’s received criticism. Is the pursuit of happiness really worth pursuing? Others may have different destinations in mind: meaning, clarity, belonging. For me, those come under the heading of being happy. Because of my personal journey, less is so much more.
When I think of happy, I think of myself younger, freer, sillier, unafraid of making choices. I liked baking cookies, reading, and playing with dolls. If that’s what it takes to be myself, am I willing to embrace it? Will I smile at my own personality instead of trying to mold it into something more relatable, more adult?
I have responsibilities and with that, there will be stress. But if I have love, acceptance, and a good group of friends and family to surround myself with, there will also be happiness. And if I’m happy, how much easier will it be to be myself? It’s the first step in a lifelong pursuit.