Am I Happy Yet?
Updated: May 27, 2020
I was recently reading through some old writing and came across this piece I wrote about two years ago when I was living in Galway, Ireland. The message still holds true for me today, and stumbling across this served as a welcome reminder.
I thought maybe you could get something from it too!
This morning I woke up to the sun streaming through the cracks in my blinds, the sound of children playing in the schoolyard next to my house, and a stomach churning realization that I had slept all five of my alarms.
I reluctantly glance at my phone and I am briefly flooded by a sea of self-directed anger and overwhelm upon seeing that it's just turned 11.30.
How in the name of god had I managed to press snooze on my 8.30, 8.40, 8.45, 8.50 and 9am alarms??
I roll over to indulge in my sacred morning ritual of self-berating.
Phrases such as "not good enough", "lazy" "useless" and "I'll definitely do it tomorrow though"s cloud my thinking.
Meanwhile, I'm trawling through my Instagram stories, seeing the bright-eyed and sun-kissed faces behind the Happy Pear beaming at me while eating energy balls made of raw cacao and self-actualization.
After a significant amount of procrastinating, I finally manage to drag my unwilling and somehow, (despite 11 hours of sleep), exhausted body out of bed. I'm still raging about missing my two hour window to do a meditation, visualizations and affirmations, write a gratitude list, complete a 10k barefoot run along the beach, sacrifice to the Pilates gods and finish writing the next NYT bestseller over a quiet cup of organic decaf chai. (a quiet morning, you know yourself).
In the end I settle for a few haphazard Sun Salutations, the entire execution of which I spend worrying about a WiFi bill I forgot to pay.
I resign myself to the promise of an attempted 15 minute meditation on my break at work, throwing on whatever jeans and jumper combo most likely to keep me dry in the face of the usual Galwegian torrent I can hear assaulting my bedroom window panes (spoiler alert; it's not fashionable).
I have always said I can never stick to a morning routine, but upon reviewing the above series of events, I have come to the realization that they are all too familiar.
The feeling of not being good enough, the promises of "I'll do it for real tomorrow", even though deep down I know I'm lying to myself. It's exhausting.
We seem to now live in a world where it's virtually impossible not to strive for perfection. The omnipresent use of social media means we are surrounded by perfection (or rather, the illusion of it) everywhere we look. Everybody seems to have it all figured out but you. And if you're anything like me (ie: a perfectionist), it causes you to feel - for lack of a better word - like shit about yourself.
However, through several years of studying the art of "having it all figured out", I myself (although no expert in any official capacity) have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing.
A few years ago, in an Eat, Pray, Love inspired moment of spontaneity, I went on a solo trip to Montreux, Switzerland. I was in the pits of depression, and fighting tooth and nail to claw my way back out again. And I was doing it in the only way I knew how; by trying to be perfect. (Ironically, that's what got me there in the first place).
On this trip, I had my first couchsurfing experience with a wonderful couple living just next to Lake Geneva. On my second night there the conversation turned, as conversations often do, to the universal topics of life, sadness, ageing, joy and growth. I rattled off my usual spiel about how I wanted to travel to here, and make a difference there. To get to the peak of some vague mystical mountain of awakening. At which point I would have it all figured out, and could finally start living my life (sound familiar?).
I finally finished what I was sure would be an inspiring speech, smug in the satisfaction that they would be terribly impressed by me - so far beyond the wisdom of my mere (at the time) nineteen years.
I remember the glimmer of knowing amusement in my hosts eye as he gave me a piece of advice that had never once occurred to me, but hasn't left me since. Smiling sagely, he said;"But if we had it all figured out, there would be no point in life.”
Being a mess is part of being a living, breathing human. Because being alive is messy.
No matter how hard we might try, we can't predict. We can't compartmentalize and we can't wrap things up with a neat little bow and put it in it's alphabetically categorized shelf, only to be taken out again when we need it.
Life doesn't work that way.
Shit happens. Things you thought you'd dealt with come bubbling back up at the most unsuspecting and inopportune moments. And sometimes we sleep all five of our alarms.
But the point is, we try. And we grow. And if that's not the point in being alive, I don't know what is.
Even though I might not see it now in my day to day life, I know I will look back on this time and see the growth that happened as clear as day. I'll see the difference. And I'll look back and realize that, hey, I was actually doing pretty okay.
I just wish I'd given myself more of a break.
So if you're having a "missed five alarms, what's the point in trying?" kind of day, maybe just give yourself a break. Have a catch up, make a jigsaw, binge watch some reruns of Friends.
Let yourself... Exist.
Just as you are.
And maybe in that allowance of existence, you'll find the happiness you were searching so hard for in the first place.