I’d done it all by high school graduation: paper routes, babysitting, tutoring, summer camps, food service, retail, restaurants, everything. And secretly, between classes, student council and my part-time jobs, I was depressed.
My dad walked out on my mom and me when I was 11. From there we were almost always financially in the red, and even as an 11-year old kid, it scared me to my core. It’s why I worked as much as I could through school. I needed to provide myself with the things my classmates were handed by their parents (ex. it shocked my boyfriend to learn that I pay out-of-pocket for dentist appointments).
You can understand why, when my mom would say “you need to get yourself a good job in the future”, I took her seriously. It looked to me as though the only way out of the frustration and uncertainty of my current life was a successful career.
So I started innocently reading up on career websites. You know, to prepare myself for the future. But somewhere along the way I got anxious. Anxious in a toxic way, because it terrified me to think I could end up the way my mom did with me.
You know how sometimes it’s possible to get so fixated on a goal or aspiration that you become dissatisfied with what you already have in the process? Guilty. In my attempt to facilitate success and catapult myself into happiness, I turned from future-minded into present-loathing.
I stopped enjoying the company of my friends. The jobs I did have were pale in comparison to what I thought I really wanted, so I was unhappy all the time. I was quick to blame everyone around me and everything in my life for my dissatisfaction. I was a real party pooper, and I lost sight of all the positives.
I didn’t treat my boyfriend the way he deserved to be treated (lucky for me he’s a trooper and stuck by me), often got angry at home, didn’t participate in chores, was quick to judge people, and the list goes on. The truth is that I was unhappy with myself and I projected my feelings onto everything I could.
I forgot how to love the world, and I’m working on fixing that. I’m truly sorry.
In other news, I had a good cry about it after my plans for a professional-development-filled summer had crumbled because I lost the internship I wanted, but then I saw the light. My failure was eye-opening.
I forgot there are things in life a lot more important than a career. Like emotional connections and compassion, as my friend Rae wrote about in her well-timed story about a depressed toilet (it’s weird, but the moral struck close to home).
You’ll be happy to know I found a job at a restaurant that I’m going to have fun at. I’m connecting with the people in my life in a more genuine way and opening my mind up more sincerely. I’m going back to basics, and thinking more simply.
So far it’s been good. Maybe that’s where the happiness was hiding all along.
How do you stay happy? I’d love to know.