Waking up to morning rain. Pulling into the driveway after a long trip. When my dog curls up next to me on the couch. Eating a really, really good french fry. Smiling at Jared from across a room.
These are just a few of the things in life that make me happy and feel at peace.
Happiness is an interesting concept to think about. We feel it, and we think we know what causes it, but when I look back on my life, I’m not sure if I knew how to maintain it. It’s not because I had a bad childhood or hated my parents. It was actually the opposite; I had a great childhood, and my mom and step-dad are the best. Those sound like key factors in being happy. Don’t they? So why do I feel like it, the happiness, was missing?
I wasn’t unhappy by any means. I lived a pretty content life, and didn’t seek to go much further than that. Yes, of course, I have a ton a great memories. I have a few “wild” adventures that I embarked on. I have late nights with my best friends. I have missing curfew and making excuses. I have running through a corn field for who even knows what reason. I have riding bikes through big puddles and swinging on a rope tied to a big oak tree. I have eating ice cream and rice crispy cereal for breakfast. I have basement ghost adventures with my cousins. I have successfully putting on eyeliner for the first time.
Even with all those memories, I do know at times I was really unhappy.
- Anytime I stepped on a scale between 2007-2015.
- Anytime I was forced to play dodgeball in school.
- When my friends got bored with me and the group moved on leaving me behind.
- When I was recalling all my horrible memories with my biological father and writing them down on teardrop-filled pages of notebook paper to tell him why I never wanted to see him again.
- When I couldn’t figure out how to do the right footwork to spike a volleyball, and felt like I kept letting my team down.
- When I was too big to play a guard and too small to play a post, so I sat the bench in basketball.
- When I was told by a boy in my class that my hands looked like guerilla hand because they are so hairy.
- All the times I couldn’t figure out a math problem.
- When I made the decision to never speak to my best friend again our last few months of high school, because I was tired of feeling used.
These are the some of the things I struggled with. And I am not putting this list out there to gain pity or whatever other emotion people find themselves feeling. I know that my life is still SO blessed and so fortunate. I know that there are people who have had and are having a much harder time than I did. I get that. I feel for all of those people. I strive to help those people who feel like life has kicked them in the face. I’m writing this because it’s literally my journey to the happy state I am in today.
I do believe happy contains a lot of other emotions. To name a few that come to mind, you can be proud-happy, content-happy, blissful-happy, 3 A.M. slap-happy, and even relaxed-happy. But what does it take for pure just happy-happy?
I don’t think I’ve found the answer yet, but I do know, that my attitude has changed a lot since being pushed out of the nest and having to find my wings. It took a while… like three years… for me to gain the confidence in myself as a person to trust that I’m not going to be a failure. I had to learn to love my body and love my mind.
I was ALWAYS the chubby kid. It’s literally in my DNA. Even now, I’m living a pretty healthy life, but I’m still curvy. The thing that changed is my love for my body and noticing how I can go shopping and not feel like I’m going to breakdown in the dressing room, because I can’t find jeans that fit my thighs, ass and waist. Even when I was a size 6 in high school, this was a HUGE issue for me. I’ve noticed I take better care of myself now that I love all of me. I don’t feel like I have to hide anything. I don’t feel like I’m glared at by the rude girls in my class for having a tummy or cellulite. Girl, everyone has that shit. It’s okay to be a little bumpy. I’m not tryna have a career in high-fashion modeling, so who care?
When I was in high school, people called me a feminist. I didn’t really know what that meant and denied it, because I didn’t want to carry the label of an outsider. Yes, I did often yell at our male gym teachers calling them sexist, because they totally were. I did refuse to do a few things unless the boys in my class were also required to do them. I did yell “douche bag” in my 8th grade English class because I told a guy he couldn’t call me and the rest of the girls that name. I did proudly talk about my period and no shame would pull a tampon out of my bag in class. Most importantly, if any of the assholes boys in my class said anything to me about my gender, I let them know how it wasn’t gonna fly. (I like to think I set them up to have more successful futures, because they only felt the wrath of one girl rather than a flock of them in college.)
Growing up isn’t easy for any kid. I genuinely think it’s getting harder emotionally with the more technology we introduce. For that reason, I find it so, so, so important to preach self-confidence. My favorite people I know are the ones who radiate confidence. I didn’t find mine until a few years ago. Some people have always had their confidence. Some people fake it. Some people literally can’t even do that. But, it is a starting point on your path to being happy.
My biggest advice to anyone is to trust your gut. Trust your mind. Love yourself. It’s not easy. It took 20 years of my life to find any form of it. I know my body so well now. I know how important mental health is. If you’re doing something bad for your mental health, as hard as it is, please, just get out.
As women, we have always been taught to change our attitudes or our opinions to make men’s lives easier. Not all the time, but you still can’t deny that it’s true. But don’t. Don’t change. Like I said, it’s so hard, but that first time you breakaway from the things that are breaking you down the most, you’ll find that love. Maybe not right away, but it will be there waiting for you when you’re ready.
Live your happiest moments to the fullest. Love your body, mind and spirit. Know your importance. Do all of those things and love the people around you.
I recently went through a pretty shitty thing, but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than I have been in the last two weeks of my life, because I trusted myself to leave.
The key to happiness is not an easy one to find, but the path is. The hard part is actually just trusting yourself to walk that path. Yes, even when the map gets faded and you have to make a scary decision, you know your body better than anyone else and will know what to do. You’re only given one body, so treat it well.