Wednesday, April 13, 2011

staircases, yuck, and the pursuit of happiness.

**I apologize in advance for the gratuitous usage of the F word in this post. I'm a profane person. If this offends you, shut up.

So I've been reading up on happiness and shit a whole lot lately because I figure I should be proactive about it. You know, 'it' being the whole search for happiness, what does it all mean, we're sand in an hourglass mumbo jumbo.

I guess it's true that one simple thing, the concept of happy is everyone's ultimate goal. We strive because we see that something just over the horizon could make us even more content, even more right, even closer to the best possible selves we have dreamed up for ourselves in our wildest fantasies. There's always that pull toward growth, and often that pull to find happiness in the moment, too. But for a while, I lost sight of both.

Worry not, I've been slowly reclaiming myself from the yuck. The yuck being general bad vibes and discontent that make it damn near impossible to gain a true moment of happiness, let alone hold on to it.  An example of yuck would be spending more time on facebook than with actual living, breathing, humanoids. That's yuck, y'all. Sleeping because you simply don't feel like being awake? Also yuck.

Believe it or not, I've always thought/felt that I'm a pretty happy person. I laugh easily. I've got oodles of people to call and just chat, make plans, grab a quick bite with.  I pursue things that I like. I set goals.  I know myself, and I usually like myself. .

That was... until almost two years ago, July of 2009, when I got 'laid off' from my job after a year. Things got pretty dicey and rull yucky then, and if we're being honest, they've stayed awfully yucky ever since.
I've talked about it briefly before, but basically, this gig was my first 'adult' job. I got it right out of college,  I was making way more cash money than any of my friends, and I had freedom, NO EXPENSES, and the peace of mind that I was helping others. I loved my co-workers, bi-monthly pedicures, and steak dinners every night. I don't know, it felt cool, going from rationing my money between beer and PB&J to living expense-free with a salary among other real adults, it made me feel different, like finally all the work I'd ever done led me up to a payoff.

And then it was over, as fast as it had begun.

Don't get me wrong, I know things have been fucked the past two years for a mother lode of people. Times are tough,  I'm getting haircuts at Superclips these days, I know sacrifice. I know I'm not alone. I should be grateful that I'm not 15 years into a career and forced to apply for jobs for which I'm insanely overqualified. But a year of employment doesn't exactly make one 'qualified,' either, does it?

Luckily, I had a family that picked up my pieces, dusted me off, and listened to me ramble endlessly, in complete earnest,  about becoming a nomad for a year, really seeing America, carrying my harmonica everywhere, and jumping trains for transport. UM, pipe dream? But yeah, they didn't even laugh in my face, they at least waited until I left the room and laughed behind my back. Even my normally smotheringly critical mother patted my hand and looked wistfully into the distance instead of the usual skeptical grill-session involving a barrage of questioning and arched eyebrows. At first.

But still, that setback, knocked me back to start. I let it take all the wind from my sails and forget about momentum. Donzo.

The truth is, I never really loved my job that much, but I still felt this overwhelming loss.  I loved my co-workers, I loved the money, I loved feeling successful. I actually hated a lot of it, though. I smoked like a train. I was constantly moving around, so I felt lonely. I was young and female and often felt like I wasn't being taken seriously. I also didn't always feel like I was even good at my job.

I took the job because I wanted to have something lined up before I graduated and I was seduced by illusions of grandeur. I took it because I felt pressure from all directions that it was time to pick something, anything, and become a adult and this was the next step.

I've often felt that my whole life has revolved around a series of never-ending "next steps," a staircase that someone else created and planned for me. Without even consulting me. How RUDE.

Um. What? What the fuck? I just typed that. It's so true. It's what I'm trying to say. I feel like I've done everything all the voices around me told me I was supposed to do next. Am I really such a sheep that I didn't question any of it? It's not like I'm afraid to voice my opinion, the rest of my family knows and is very accustomed to this phenomenon every time a family dinner ends with me storming out after yet another astonishingly frustrating debate over political fundamentals erupts between my father and I over walleye and steamed asparagus.

So anyway, though I hated my job a lot of the time, I couldn't see never took the time to see how losing it could ever feel like a good thing, an escape, an opportunity. I had a next step to hit, goddamnit.
Instead, I've just been bitter and cynical and floating around angry ever since. Instead of making my own set of steps based on what will make me feel happy and content, I have effectively taken the stance "Fuck steps! I hate steps! I'll never lay eyes on another step as long as I live, and in the off chance that I do, I'll spit on the motherfucker!"

Anyway that kind of got off of the happiness topic, but I'm about to bring it fullllllllllll ciiiiiiiiiiiiiiicrle. Get amped.

I have been reading a TON of blogs lately where I feel like a lot of ladies have this underlying sense of, I don't know, discontent surrounding otherwise witty, charming, and yes, happy auras. Maybe we're all going through some sort of weird crisis, or just realizing that maybe we did everything we were told and expected to do, and not what made us happy. Or even perhaps more likely, we've been struggling to do what we think will make us happy, but as is often the case with the most rewarding labors of love, there is no clear path, or EVEN destination, just an idea, and flicker, a sideways half-frame that comes in a dream.

I feel happier. I feel like I've got things, now. I've got this blog, and manfriend, and running, and my friends, and a kickass house. But it's more than just things, it's momentum. It's building, I know it.

It's just so hard sometimes, you know? There can never be instructions to straight to Happinessland, because no one's views of it is exactly the same as anyone else. Sure, reading books on happiness trends and studies and research shows patterns and generalities, but it doesn't give step-by-step directions there. Maybe that's also the BEST part. We get to create our own, even if it's a rough road with lots of detours. Even if striving for happiness doesn't always bring the joy and release of paying off at every turn, for the first time I'm ready to build my own staircase instead of mourning the loss of one that was forced upon me.

Also, I've got a project, because it's time to make peace with steps, and maybe build a staircase of my own. (And also gain a firmer grasp of writing with metaphor, apparently.) One that doesn't involve office work, passive aggressive emailing, having a horrendous script when I answer the phone. I don't think it's selfish to have some deal-breakers.

Cheers to happiness!

XO Sara

No comments:

Post a Comment