Here’s the deal. This post is very personal, and it’s going to be messy. So if you’re not really into that or don’t particularly care, feel free to turn back now. I’ll still welcome you back with open arms when you want to read about kale or Russian literature or whatever other crazy schemes I come up with. But since I started this blog to help myself build a better, happier life, I think it’s important for me to share with you the reasons why I need to build a better, happier life.
I also want to say, before I really get into it, that I do not mean to sound as though I’m whining about the circumstances of my life. I have been very blessed to be surrounded by a group of truly loving and supportive people and to have had many opportunities and advantages. I am tremendously grateful for these things. My problems are truly First World Problems. Also, they have led me to where I am today…and that is something I will never regret because the rough times make the good times even sweeter.
So with that rather lengthy intro, here we go:
Several weeks ago I had a bit of a breakdown. I had been unhappy for a long time, but the kicker was that I wasn’t feeling better even though the primary source of my unhappiness had ended. That was devastating to me. My bad situation had turned into a hangover that made me feel even worse. It was at that point that I realized something had to change.
I started doing a lot of thinking. About where I was and how I got there. What decisions did I make, and why did I make them. I was trying to pinpoint the true, deep-down truths about what was making me feel so bad. (Pause to give a massive shout-out to the wonderful people who have been listening to me work through this as much of this thinking has been aloud.) In a way, it was like therapy without a licensed therapist.
It was during one of these conversations that I considered a pattern. In early life, there are socially defined paths. More than that, they’re legally defined. We go to elementary school, then middle school, then high school. At that point, the legal construct drops away, but where I came from, the social construct continues. So there’s college. And when my time in college was waning, I made the decision to continue my education and attend graduate school right away. When grad school ended, I ended up taking a professional job with a well-defined career path.
But after nearly five years on that well-defined career path (and a period of such intense misery at work that I survived by the sheer determination and strength of will that is possible only when you know there’s an endpoint), I found myself emotionally, physically, and mentally depleted; completely miserable; and lacking any motivation to do anything. In short, I was a mess. Hence the breakdown.
Then came all this thinking I refer to above. And a pattern emerged: my life has followed a series of paths that were determined by large forces (law, society, education, professional organizations). I gave myself over to these paths first because I had to and then because it was what I knew and felt comfortable with.
My realization? I don’t want my life to follow a path determined by someone else. In fact, I don’t want it to follow a path at all.
From here on out, I will live in 3-D, make choices because they’re right for me, find my center and radiate out from there. I will make mistakes and then make things right. I will not to be so afraid to fail that I don’t even try. I will thrive rather than survive.
And so, just like that, my breakdown turned into a breakthrough. (Cue cheesy rainbow picture…)
Hello, life. I’m just getting started with you, but we’re going to have such adventures, you and I!
On a lighter note, those of you who stuck with me through this entire post get a gift of sorts: a preview!
There will be updates on the Year of the Russian Novel and the Month of Kale. Check back soon, because we’re making progress on both fronts here at Happier, and we want to share it with you!
(Please note the use of the royal we. We are feeling rather grandiose this evening 🙂