Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

You know that the end of one year/beginning of another is always a time where I get reflective and introspective on this here blog. And this year is no exception. Here's a post on my little happiness project that I plan to apply in 2010. We'll see how far into the year I get before I abandon ship! Lol! Thinking back, I may have already done a very similar post in a year gone by, but I'm too lazy to confirm that, so if this is redundant, then please just take the repetition as a sign that I'm a zealous advocate for the point I'm trying to get across! Happy New Year, snitches... I'll see you in 2010!

I moved to NYC for one reason, and one reason only: because I thought it would make me happy. Before moving to NYC, I was profoundly UNhappy. And who wouldn’t have been unhappy living the life I was living? I was 30 years old, a resident of my parents’ house, still sleeping in my childhood room (albeit in a big girl bed!), governed by the house rules (curfews and sht), working a job that I couldn’t have cared less about, in a city that I was generally bored with. It was a miserable existence.

All of my visits to New York were mostly sunshine and rainbows, and it was the place where I felt the most alive. The most, authentic me (if you will) made an appearance every time I visited my friends there. And I liked the authentic me. I thought it’d be cool for the authentic me to stick around. And, so, after my 30th birthday, I made it my business to become a resident of NYC. It was the first thing I affirmatively decided on my own without any influence from my parents, extended family, and friends. It was what I wanted to do and, whether it made sense or not, I was going to do it. I’d lived 30 years, and not very happily and this was my first step toward the happiness that I believed had eluded me for so long.

And so, I went. I found a job that I really like (I don’t love it, but I like it, and that’s enough for now. One hurdle at a time!), happened upon a decent roommate, and moved into a great space. So far, it’s been really good. But am I any happier than I was in DC? I’m not sure that I am. Now, I’ve only been there a couple of months, and I haven’t really had the time or the opportunity to explore the city the way I’d like to explore it. That’s part of it. But the other part of it is that I recognize that I’m me… authentic, real, unchanged… and I’m going to be just little old me no matter where I am located.

An acquaintance of mine tells this story of how she lived in DC all her life and knew that NYC was where she really wanted to be. Times got hard after grad school and she had to move back to DC and stay in her parents home, in her childhood room, and wait for months to receive a job offer from an employer in NYC. She was miserable while at home in DC. She was depressed, drank a lot, smoked a lot, didn’t eat. And when the call finally came, it was a job that she knew she would hate but because it would get her to NYC, she took it. She never looked back and is now, in the words of the all-knowing and all-wise Oprah, living her best life.

I guess, in a way, I thought I would have a similar story. And, maybe I will. After all, she worked that shitty job that got her back to the city for almost a year before she found one that she could stomach. And even after that, it took her about seven years to reach what is sure to be the pinnacle of her career. So, I’ve got a long road to travel (or maybe not so long at all… who knows?!) before I reach my final destination in my NYC life.

Or, maybe none of that will happen to me at all.

One of the reasons I was so drawn to Mystery Man is because at first glance, you can tell that he is a genuinely happy, content, secure, and settled person. I was attracted to that because I was none of those things. I wanted to get to know him… to delve into his personality and get inside his head to get a sense for how he managed to be so put-together all the time. Well, what I found out was that Mystery Man had problems just like the rest of us. There were times when he was sad, dissatisfied, flustered and uncertain. He was human… go figure. But what he explained to me, and this is something that I carry with me everyday, is that happiness is not a destination. He explained that it’s not about getting to a certain point in your life, and then you will be happy. It’s about deciding that you will be happy and then carrying on with the journey that is your life, carrying that happiness with you, and letting it shine through at every moment. That is how you live your best life.

There are times when you’ll hit roadblocks and obstacles and you’ll feel that if this is the best your life can offer, you’d like the opportunity to get back in bed, lie down, wake up, and start the day over again. But even in those times, you can choose to make the most of it. You can just make the decision to keep right on living your best life.

And the phrase “living YOUR best life” is important. That “your” makes it relative. What is your best life will not be the best life for someone else and vice versa. So, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be sure not to compare my life to others. Some of my friends are doing really great, wonderful, downright FANTASTIC things. They’re experiencing some of the stuff I’d hope to be experiencing at this point in my life. But their path is different from mine. And my best life is going to look different from theirs. Not better, or worse… but different. And that’s okay.

I am writing this post from my parents’ couch. My office is closed from December 23 through January 4, so I actually had a winter break… a luxury I had not been privy to since graduating from law school. I decided to come back to DC to spend that time with my family and friends here, and was really looking forward to ringing in the New Year with friends at some crazy party. But, a day or two after Christmas, my ear started hurting, and then my throat started hurting, and then… I was officially sick. I headed to the doctor who told me that I had a very bad case of strep throat, and I was quarantined and put on a regimine of antibiotics. So, I’ll be ringing in the New Year from the couch, all alone… just me and the dog when 2010 finally gets here. Now, I could make the choice to be really pissed off about this. And, for awhile, not only was I pissed about my circumstances, but I also felt extremely sorry for myself and cried quite a bit. I’m not sure where the crying came from, but… tears did make an appearance.

Anyhoo, I now recognize that there’s nothing to be sad about. 2010 is upon us, and I lived to see it… in reasonably good health (strep throat isn’t the end of the world, after all… and thank God for penicillin!)! Many people can’t claim that victory. Plus, I’m employed, have a roof over my head, $20 in my pocket (okay… maybe a little more than 20!), a loving family, wonderful friends… these are all tremendous blessings! I am so grateful! And, while I’m still looking for love in all the (really) wrong places, and I’m not happy about my current status, I should make the choice to be happy about the fact that Mystery Man and I are exactly what we’re meant to be right now… great friends. He’s one of my biggest cheerleaders, and I his. We are there for each other, can discuss just about everything, and he’s just a great guy that I’m happy to know. For now, there ain’t no more to it. Fine. I’m happy anyway!

Maybe it’s time for me to just accept the fact that my life is what I make it. I mean, my friend could’ve lived her best life in her childhood bedroom, right in Washington, DC. I could’ve also chosen to do the same. Because happiness is not found in a place like NYC or DC or Atlanta or LA. Happiness isn’t found in another person. No, happiness is within YOU. Happiness is a choice… you have to choose it, in order for it to choose you.

So, on Thursday night when the clock strikes 12 midnight and 2010 is officially here in all of it’s glory, I’ll be in DC, holding it down live and direct from my mama’s couch, making a toast with my hot toddy, watching the ball drop… and I’ll be completely and totally happy about it all.

Happy New Year!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I hadn't read this in so long, but I like where you're going with this! :)