I really enjoy reading her writings ever since we were 15. This post really resonated with me especially her thoughts on having the right mindset to happiness. Check it out!
Deciding which road to happiness to embark on is a lot easier than what we’d initially thought
I’ve been doing a lot of introspection lately about what I do and more importantly why I do what I do, so here I am to dish up my deep thoughts like the Dalai Lama of 20-something befuddlement. What’s really interesting for me is how my life has changed 180 degrees in the last year, for better or worse, in ways I could never have imagined. The more I sit down to try and ‘figure it out’ as I write this blog – which feels absurdly arrogant to me most of the time, because my life is just one constant troll and who the hell am I to help anyone, anyway? – the more I believe that regardless of what life gives anybody (lemons, philandering partners, odd jobs, old men, anemia) the possibility of a delicious chocolate cake is always on the table, if you want it. You either win (a chocolate cake) or you learn (how to bake a chocolate cake); nobody really loses.
For the benefit of those unfamiliar with my background and upbringing, I’d grown up under the impression that my life was a Disney movie and I would marry my childhood sweetheart in my early twenties and then devote the rest of my life to fussing over our five children. My grandmother had done it, my mother did it, and my sister is doing it. With this road to happiness as a (read: the one and only) reference point growing up, it seemed only natural that my life would play out in a similar fashion.
Believing that my raison d’être was to run a household and bring children into this world influenced my endeavors in career and love in ways that have led people to believe that I am a complete moron. While all of my peers progressed to university, there I was pursuing an interest in a field that was not at all lucrative, which nobody even bats an eyelash at. And while I should have been taking full advantage of my perky ass and extensive library of good puns, I winced at the thought of being on the market for too long and dated with the seriousness and focus of a deranged person with a ticking biological time bomb in her uterus. Something tells me that growing up in a home with siblings at least a decade older may have had a hand in all of this, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Then as life would have it, I experienced a seismic shift in my thinking. It dawned on me that my likelihood of befalling the same fate as the other women in my family was decreasing exponentially with each passing day. Considering that I’d been blessed with the privileges and opportunities to create my own destiny, on my own terms, I should’ve been out making waves. I was clearly short-changing myself here.
Everything I once thought to be true about the world and myself turned out to be false or – at best – wildly inaccurate. The sudden loss of purpose and direction petrified me at first. Had this realization hit me a few years ago I’d have been paralyzed with fear, but today this epiphany can only be described as exhilarating. If there’s just one thing I know to be true and accurate about life, it is that when one door closes, another door (and several other doors) open.
Not to toot my own horn here, but I am a master of envisioning alternate possibilities. I didn’t think anything of this because it’s something I’d been doing since I was a kid, but I’m learning now that some of us (just 7% of the population, if we are nitpicking) are more inclined to do this and at far greater intensities than others.
Where some people see dead people with their sixth sense, others see possibilities. I see them everywhere and get so obsessed with the what-could-be that I’m constantly forgetting the what-is. It’s intoxicating and it’s infuriating. Aside from being notorious for swimming upstream and my headstrong tendencies, family and friends have attributed fickleness and restlessness to my nature. And it drives them up the wall. To onlookers, my life echoes a sense of cluelessness and aimlessness. They’re exhausted by my stress and indecisiveness, particularly so about the people I date and employment prospects I flirt with.
Why do you fall head over heels for someone who is good to his mother one day, yet still fall head over heels for someone who is estranged from his mother the next?
Why do you experience euphoria with someone who means the world to you one day, yet still experience euphoria when that someone is dead to you the next?
Why is it that you feel fulfilled practicing yoga 10 hours one day, yet still feel fulfilled sketching shoes 10 hours the next?
Who even asks questions like these?! Christ.
To be fair, no family or friend has ever had the audacity to put me in the spotlight like that. Parents have come close, but never this direct. These as just some of the questions I ask myself when I’m not too busy re-watching The Mindy Project.
The subconscious reshuffling of my priorities over the last year finally set off an existential crisis a couple of weeks ago. (We all saw that one coming…) I’ve never earnestly considered a job for myself, but now dreamed of establishing a career. And where I was once desperate and most thrilled to lock it down, the idea of being committed to one person right now makes me shifty and uncomfortable.
I seem to have developed a new brand of independence and confidence I’d always admired in others but could never find within myself. It was momentarily discombobulating, because it made it hard for myself to recognize the person I had become, just for a second. And although this felt like an achievement on some level, it baffled me more than it delighted me.
I’ve always strived to walk in step with what I valued and believed to be right, by living my life as my true Self – whatever that means. Actually, all that means is ignoring what most people have to say and instead just going with your gut and responding to what makes you feel alive – it’s so straightforward and simple, you wonder why more people don’t do this. This would account for all the seemingly erratic, random, and brazenly contradictory pursuits I have chased in my lifetime.
Up until very recently, the road to happiness for me had involved settling down and starting a family at a young age. And the road to misery presumably involved working long hours and a preference to keep multiple superficial, intermittent, and stress-free relations.
Here’s the tricky part that I struggle with: it’s not always black or white. Neither of those options is the right or true or superior path – I’ve since tried both and found each of them to be equally satisfying in their own ways. Right today is not always right tomorrow. And right for you is not always right for me. And is it the Vatican or Hollywood or mum and dad who dictate what’s really ‘right’ anyway?
All I know is that for some of us (just 7% of the population), we can pick any person – obviously with the exclusion of serial killers and rapists – to be with and be happy. And we can pick nobody to be with and still be happy. And we can pick any career – considering we put our minds to it, commit the necessary hours and work to be great at it – and be happy. That’s reductive, of course, as in reality there are many rivers to cross and gaps to bridge between where we stand and Happiness.
But the gist is this: We can do anything and be happy. Whichever path we decide for ourselves, we are going to find a world of endless possibilities and a delicious chocolate cake because that’s how our brains are wired. The journey has never been the hard part. For us, it is the decision itself that is the hardest. But once it’s been made, our extroverted intuition jumps right back into play and makes damn sure that we are making the absolute most out of whatever option we’ve chosen.
So rest assured and stop mulling over the options already. We are going to find a way to be happy either way – at least 7% of us are.