*Part 1 of a short series of posts on how I improved my life and outlook on the world simply by making a few choices, and why you should, too*
The Choice: Being Happy
There’s this kid at my school I used to hate. He mostly fulfilled the stereotype that comes with being openly gay; he was flamboyant, would always dress nicely, and absolutely adored theatre. I didn’t hate him because he was gay. In fact, my negative feelings towards him showed up only when I began to question my own sexuality (more on that later). I didn’t know where my dislike for him came from, especially if I was thinking I might be able to relate to him in a way most people couldn’t. After a few weeks I finally figured it out: He was happy.
See, it wasn’t even him or anything he was doing that upset me. He was a happy, confident go-getter that knew what he wanted, and, for whatever reason, I hated him for it. It didn’t matter what his sexuality was or what he wore. Disgusted with my feelings (How could I hate this boy? There was nothing wrong with him!), I tried to explain them. I ruled out jealousy, and came to a conclusion I didn’t want to admit. I couldn’t like him because I couldn’t like myself.
It all seemed so stupid. What was so wrong with me that I couldn’t make myself happy? The surprisingly simple answer was nothing. There was nothing inherently wrong with me; the only problem was that I allowed myself to inhibit my own happiness.
This shocked me. I thought I did everything right: I got great grades, took care of myself, and spent an awful lot of time trying to please people. But what are good grades if you don’t celebrate them? How can you take care of yourself without taking time to make sure you’re happy and enjoying your life? Why can’t you be pleased, too? I asked myself these questions and realized that I could do what others expected of me, thought was “right,” and make others happy, or I could do what I wanted for myself and make myself happy. The choice was that simple.
I vowed to make my own happiness a priority. Once I started making small changes I noticed that I began to hate this boy less, and the less I hated him the more like him I became. No, I didn’t dress like him or act like him, but I was similar to him in that I was more confident in myself, more aware of myself, and excited to be myself. Simply put, I was happy, and I’m getting happier all the time. No more do I see someone joyful and lash out––I share the happiness, get inspired by it.
For anyone out there who feels like I did, please realize that a big part of happiness is making a choice. Don’t wait for reasons to be happy. Find them in yourself. A part of growing up is finding your identity, something I thought I had to have clearly defined in my head before I could be happy. There is a magic about the process, though, the journey. Celebrate it. You may find it brings you closer to your goal, or you might realize you were there all along.
Stay happy. 🙂