I had an epiphany of sorts last week while packing my one bedroom apartment for my upcoming move, and watching Pretty in Pink for the 1,546th time. Like most people, I have always been caught up in the idea of finding happiness. If I get the perfect date to prom I will be happy; If I leave my small town I will be happy; If I get a college education and a decent paying job I will be happy; If I have a husband and children I will be happy; If I have a great apartment I will be happy; If I reach my goal weight I will be happy. I must do X,Y,Z to be happy!
As I packed up what is left of my memories of the first 33 years of life, and contemplated why Andie would ever choose Blane over Duckie, I realized something that never occurred to me before — happiness has always been within me. This might not be groundbreaking for some, but I have spent so much time focusing on worry, stress, and heartbreak that I hadn’t really allowed myself to see the beauty in the little things until very recently. It’s still hard for me to admit that I suffer from depression and anxiety. I don’t think I ever realized how badly I was suffering until I wasn’t suffering anymore. I thought those feelings were normal; that if I couldn’t have exactly what I wanted, and control every aspect of my life, I would never be happy. Think about that for a minute. It was, and still is, exhausting.
I realize finding happiness within yourself is not a new concept; I’ve seen the inspirational quotes on Tumblr. But it didn’t really resonate with me until I looked back over all my memories, both painful and happy, and realized that if I don’t enjoy life, moment by moment, I am going to miss it. Life doesn’t start when you attain every goal you ever laid out for yourself, it starts when you’re born. Unfortunately, I wasn’t born into a very happy time for my family and I think on some level that burden always sat with me. Once we get over *this* life struggle, things will be happy. But life struggles never really cease. It’s the moments in-between, or the unexpected joys that come from those struggles, that make up our happiness.
It’s my baby book that nobody ever filled out;
It’s the first CD I ever owned;
It’s embarrassing pictures of my friends from middle school;
It’s that time, “I Got Absolutely Pissed” in London in 1994;
It’s the fortune at the bottom of this Bazooka Joe wrapper that I found pertinent at the time;
It’s this family Christmas when we all had really bad hair but were all still together;
It’s a day that brought America together;
It’s the memories from my first wedding;
It’s a random sombrero;
It’s an undeveloped water camera from our trip to Belize;
It’s this last birthday card I ever received from my grandmother;
It’s this pack of condoms from 2004 that, for whatever reason, were never necessary;
It’s all the days we spent together on the beach before she passed away;
It’s whatever I was doing in this picture;
It’s my new extended family;
It’s so many other moments in life that seemed minute at the time but still bring a smile to my face. Now that I realize that, I want to slow down this life and enjoy every god-damn second of it. I am so lucky to have such carrying, forgiving people in my life, hobbies that a love, a stable job, and so many other wonderful things I may not even realize in this moment. I hope I can maintain this outlook for as long as humanly possible.