What makes you happy?
Is it good weather? Time spent with friends? Love? Wealth? A nice house? Travel?
The majority of the world is charging ahead in pursuit of individualistic happiness that we can hardly define. I say “the majority,” because there are still a few cultures out there that seek out the greater good over individualistic happiness. In those places, group survival and success is happiness. Meanwhile, for the rest of us, theories of happiness are typically linked to very personal goals and ideals, and “happy” moments are often celebrated alone.
I’ve been quite dismayed to find myself standing friendless during my hallmark “happy” moments. My family, with its Eastern values, stretched far and wide across the globe to celebrate these moments with me. But my friends, a backyard distance away, didn’t show up when I needed them.
For someone who defines happiness by the extent of self-sacrifice she commits in order to help others in her community and attract joy to them, the realization that the world doesn’t quite agree was a hard pill to swallow. Most heartbreaking was the impact it had on who I became.
I was once the girl who would drive you 45 minutes out to the city at 1am without you having to ask. I became the woman who lets you take the bus.
I was once the girl who would pick up groceries for your mother on my way to visit you. I became the woman who doesn’t bother to visit at all unless there’s an occasion.
I was once the girl who was always, always on time. You left me waiting so often that I became the woman who, if she has no desire to be on time, would rather cancel entirely.
I was once the girl who would cook for you when you were on your own, until I was on my own for a decade, and nobody asked.
During the most difficult years of my life… nobody asked.
I was once the girl who would take the shirt off her back.
There is only one person in this world today, who isn’t family by blood or marriage, that I would give my shirt to.
This is heartbreaking.
Out of ashes, the Phoenix rises. Over the course of the past few months writing here, I’m falling back in touch with the girl I once was, and realizing that I was never wrong to be kind. I was just kind to the wrong people. The path to modern “happiness” is a very lonely path, and it isn’t mine.
There is no happiness in the hallmark moments… if you are celebrating on your own.
A few weeks ago, my husband was surprised when I skipped on finally buying myself some new clothes in order to buy a gift for a new friend. He said: “Marian! Wasn’t the plan to put yourself first? Haven’t you learned the hard way? Are you going to try this again? What if your new friends are all the same?”
I thought about it. “What I learned… ” I said, “is that: just because other people don’t have time, courtesy, or community values, does not mean I have to be the same. The only thing worse than your friends not showing up, is them turning you into a friend that doesn’t show up. I won’t be robbed like that.”
The worst thing about heartbreak is that it makes you a heartbreaker, if you let it.
And so, it has been decided… for me, happiness means being true to yourself, even when you don’t fit the mould. Why? Because God made you and broke the mould. There is no one out there who is quite like you. That is, unless you choose to blend in… but, what’s the fun in that?
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” – Albus Dumbledore
Be the light. Be Dumbledore. Even if it means you wind up at the bottom of the tower with your integrity intact.
And remember… we design our own luck!