It looks like a simple one, doesn’t it?
Yet something in this concept of crafting your own happiness seems to be anything but simple. In fact, it seems like an arduous effort to just rid ourselves of the negativities of daily life, replacing them with the things that bring us joy.
I’m beginning to see that I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to this.
It started with an email to my sister. An email where the confused thoughts pulsing through my mind slipped through my fingers and on to the screen, pleading for her to make some sense of them (she’s pretty good at that, you know).
She said: “I feel very strongly that you believe you have to prove something to people, in that with the whole business ideas and getting all this freelance work… I don’t think you’re doing it for you?”
I stared at the sentence, re-reading it over and over again.
Because, the thing is, she was right.
For as long as I can remember, I have pushed myself to achieve more, to be seen as this successful woman. I viewed success by the number of clients I had under my belt and the amount of people who knew my name.
I wanted to own a business. I wanted to be featured in the “25 under 25” sections of the local press. I wanted to be this marketing extraordinaire because… well, that’s all I was ever going to do. That path had been set since the early days of college. Marketing was what I was good at.
So I spent my time at University taking on internship after internship, work placement after work placement. I spend my time now waking up 2 hours early to work on freelance projects before going straight to work and returning to the house to finish up outstanding freelance work.
And when I don’t wake up at 6am? When I decide to watch an episode of Modern Family rather than sitting at my laptop all night? I am plagued by guilt. I feel awful for, heaven forbid, spending an evening enjoying wine with my friends and making the most of my final 3 weeks (!!!) in Italy.
And when I do wake up at 6am? When I do face the screen day and night? I feel drained. I feel resentful.
Most of all? I feel unhappy.
I quit my yoga classes because I needed more time to work on my freelance clients. Yoga classes that not only eased my anxiety, but helped me sleep and worked to reduce the pain in my back (which is a constant source of frustration for me). Plus, I loved the people I shared a class with. I looked forward to my Tuesday and Thursday evenings with them.
I quit something I adored to do something that brought me more stress.
Granted, I am currently in a position where I need to save every penny I can for Australia. But, if I’m being totally honest with myself? This isn’t a new thing. This is the way I have always been.
Most people who read this blog will know I can suffer with extremes of emotions. It’s very easy for me to fall out of a happy bubble and into a lower pit.
Why is it then, that I would do anything to make those falls more frequent?
I’m now learning to be more honest. Every day, I’m trying just that bit more. I’m learning to look in the mirror and embrace every little part of myself… scars and all. I don’t want to shy away from the words etched through my veins. I want to own them. Be proud of them.
And some of these words? They tell me that I seek validation in the strangest of ways. In fact, that I shouldn’t be seeking this validation at all.
I try to ignore this big part of me that is missing by presenting myself as a person that I’m not quite sure I am. I chase success when, really, success just comes down to one thing.
Happiness that I believe I’ve been looking for in all the wrong places.
This realisation? It’s scary. It’s scary that I’m now questioning everything I have ever worked for. That things could change dramatically within the next 12 months.
But it’s also exciting. Exciting that I am quickly nearing a chapter in my life where I can dispense of the things that bring me stress. I can spend it with next to no pressure, really working on myself and figuring out where I want to be.
So no. I won’t be spending my time in Australia working on the new business idea.
I will be spending it at the beach. Writing my book. Researching the possibility of this terrifying new career change. Exploring the city. Relaxing. Starting yoga again. Pouring pints god dammit.
Finding the little things that make me happy. And i’ll be throwing myself into each and every one of them.