I have been pursuing happiness my entire life. Years have passed as I contemplated happiness and it once stressed me out thinking about it. To communicate my dissatisfaction with this feeling, I’d have full on conversations with myself. They probably sounded something like, “Well, it isn’t like you had a shitty childhood or anything, you had a fairly normal childhood, a perfect best friend, pets, summer vacations, camping trips, siblings. You have no reason to doubt happiness. Of course you’re happy. What else would you be?” Still, there was this nagging emptiness that tugged and tugged at me until I paid attention to it.
My nagging sensation told me that I WASN’T happy. It was clear because the feeling included, laughing, smiling, song singing, etc. I mostly felt like an outsider looking in on myself through the window pane. Standing in the cold damp winter weather bundled up with a hint of sadness looking in on a warm orange glow from the fire, while nothing but cheer filled the air. It the most confusing and frustrating feeling.
I remember looking into a full length mirror, gazing deep into my eyes, one kindergarten day accessing all the reasons I felt like an outsider to myself. A small girl, big brown eyes, crocked smile, staring at herself in self evaluation. The intensity of that memory brings chill bumps to my skin. Every once in a while this image pops into my mind. It seems pretty profound for a 6 year old to have a deep sense that they just aren’t ‘normal’. I thought I might be broken. That I had to fix something, so I tried. I think this may have been the beginning of my quest for happiness and search for TRUE self.
But first, a lot of experience doing it the wrong way. Remember that nagging? I let it move in. I befriended it. I let it sit on my shoulder my entire life. It invited its friend self-doubt to sit on the other shoulder. And these fuckers are really hard to shake!
That little girl staring into the mirror all those years ago was lonely. She tried NOT be lonely. I became malleable, pliable, agreeable, modest, meek and afraid. The compassion that I was born with was often misguided, trumping my own feelings to pacify others unstable emotions; yet it protected me from making foolish and hurtful choices bullied by peer pressures. I thought if I tried to be “normal” to everyone then I would always fit it. Imagine trying to fit in with the cheerleader types, the athletes, band geeks, artistic punks, etc all at the same time. It ended up, I didn’t fit into any category, I’m truly a social chameleon, even though I was a cheerleader, an athlete and in Art Club, I was still too broad. No one knew how to relate to me even though I was capable of relating to them.
School makes things awkward anyway. Everyone had their own issues with fitting in and feeling accepted. I am curious how many self reflected as much as I did.
I constantly have asked myself a million times, “What makes me happy?” , ” How will I know I am happy?”, ” What does true happiness feel like?” These were some of the questions that I pondered and still do.
I remember being happy with certain aspects of my life,
like having a beautiful home, 3 energetic, healthy children, all the things I needed plus family and friends who were around to share my life, all things to be grateful for. I remember thinking my blessed life SHOULD cause me to feel happiness. But if all those things were stripped away, OH AND THEY WERE, would I be happy? Would I be happy with WHO I am? With WHAT I am? I could never answer with a resounding “yes”.
Everyday that passed I would ask, “Why am I not happy?” I could have blamed it on an unhealthy marriage, the chronic pain from the car accident, broken relationships within my family and various other mishaps that happened along the way. I would feel guilty for being preoccupied with this questions.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to realize WHY I thought I wasn’t happy. I didn’t know if this new understanding would suddenly cause me to be happy, but at least I could identify something that made me sad, numb, insignificant and often times lonely. I couldn’t stop ‘TRYING TO PLEASE OTHERS’ .
” Trying to please others? How and WHY was I doing that?”
It was simple, I was still trying to fit in. Remember the six year old little girl gazing deep into her own soul in kindergarten? She felt different, she knew it. And she made a decision that she would do what it takes to fit in no matter what the cost. And it was so… just like that .
This is my journey. My quest. Happiness.
This song started playing on a playlist as I was writing this blog. I felt it was super appropriate and wanted to share it with you.
Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
You may also like my other post in the series of Happiness Quest called The Power of Now