We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry. – E.B. White
There are a lot of people in your life that, for whatever reason, see fit to tell you what you should be striving for in life. Most of the time, they mean well. They actually want you to be happy, they just don’t know how to help you besides offer advice that you probably don’t need.
My mom (especially as she gets older) seems to think I will be happy when I finally settle down with a husband and
her grandkids kids. Although she is supportive of my current lifestyle, I think she views it as a phase that I’ll grow out of, kinda like when I was 12 and would only eat Trix cereal for breakfast. Maybe she’s right. But what she may not see is that I’m pretty happy with how my life is right now.
My aunt liked to have a heart attack when she came to visit in January and saw that I had big-chopped my natural hair. Again. “But it was getting so long and pretty,” she said sadly, stroking my hair in nostalgia.
My sister freaks out as usual when I tell her I’ll be moving to Charlottesville, VA for a month after I leave Baltimore. Charlottesville is one of my favorite cities and I’ve been there to visit for the Virginia Festival of the Book every year for the last 10 years. This year, I figured I might as well see if I could stay a while longer and I’m happy it all worked out. “Why do you keep moving around so much?” my sister asks. “Because I want to,” is all I say now. It’s all there is TO say, really.
If I lived my family’s version of happy, I would be working full-time for someone else; have long, relaxed hair; be married to a tall man with a good government job; working on my first baby and be living in one place for the rest of my life.
The danger in living someone else’s version of happy though, is that while it may feel good to have their approval, you can end up following all the steps they tell you to follow and then wonder why you still don’t feel fulfilled in your life. You might make choices based on someone else’s hopes and dreams for you, then end up resenting them once you realize that those choices only sidetracked your life and took you further away from your hopes and dreams.
I don’t know what’s best for you, but I do know that it’s hard to go wrong when you trust yourself. When you design your own vision for how you want your life to be, you’re able to tap into desires that you may not have been able to see or feel before. You’re also better able to release your attachment to other people’s approval by taking responsibility for your own goals.
Maybe your life is just fine the way it is now. Maybe you really don’t want to find a husband or go back to school or get a “real” job, like everyone is saying you should. Maybe your only goal in the world is to wake up every morning with gratitude that you’ve been blessed to live another day. Maybe, for now, you want to just be.
And maybe that’s OK.
Whatever makes you happy is what’s right for you. It’s important to remember that.
It’s important to remember that your version of happy is the only one that matters.