On Happiness

sunflower - betsy chaplin

“Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else”

 Eric Weiner

The last six-ish months, I’ve been obsessed with this notion of happiness, mostly because I have gotten to the bar in my life where I have always claimed I could be truly and sincerely happy at: I’m in a relationship that isn’t dismally lacking in any department, I’m in school, I have my own place, a pet, I’ve been offered more opportunity to become who I’ve always wanted to be than I really thought possibly. I’m on first name basis with professors who happen to be great writers, great supportive writers who think I have talent and a lot to say. Then my cousin committed suicide, my super cheerful looking cousin who will live on in my memories as someone who was always happy when I spoke to her, who I thought had everything I wanted, including a cute boyfriend, was thin, with a best friend and inside jokes and would still have dumb text convos and doodling fun together. Someone I remember being infinitely jealous of as a little girl because she had “good” hair and was lighter and thinner than me. But she wasn’t happy enough to not jump off a bridge.

So what’s being happy about? I ask myself now if I’m happy: with school, with my art and my writing, about where I am at twenty one, about my relationships with people, but I don’t know if I know what happy means. My boyfriend asked me a few weeks ago while I was in a spiraling-downward, drowning-in-the-abys depression episode, “What would make me happy”. Flashback: my mother cussing my brother and I out, insisting we were never happy, no matter what she bought and did for us. We had everything at the expense of her time and being and her happiness, so how dare we not be happy?! Once (or a few hundred times) I’d burst into tears, and find my mother more furious than ever. Once I talked back and got popped in the mouth so fast, I was shocked into silence and then overcome with angry shame. But by the time I was thirteen and out of the worst part of hormonally imbalanced puberty, I learned to listen with grave expressions, though even now that my mother has given up yelling at me since New Years of 2012, it took most of my will power to not roll my eyes.

Because that, ladies, gentleman, dogs with blogs and transfolk of the world, is my problem. I can’t stop thinking, “How dare I not be happy?” long enough to actually wonder what happiness is, how I will get it, and what is stopping it from getting to me. I am ashamed of sadness, and shame and guilt are worse than sad by any route ever. Mommy-issues. I know. Everyone has them, but it’s good to lay them out on the table and look at them objectively. A wise friend once told me to take my sadness and grief and hurt and look at it like an object. To study every facet of and know it intimately, so that it will never surprise you. You will know it and it will know you. You are not it; it is not you. This difference, the difference, essentially between estar and ser, I think, somehow made critical contact with my psyche, and I’m getting better at doing that. Looking, Watching. Seeing. Being, with being overwhelmed. And from that understanding what there is and what it means, whether it be hideous or awe inspiringly beautiful,

With that in mind. I made a list of goals for my summer. They’re babysteps to being not a nervous wreck.

But whatever, nigga, they’re steps. I’m hitting rock bottom, and in the infamous words of Drake…

“Started from the bottom, now we here….Started from the bottom, now the whole team’s fucking here”


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