I couldn’t sleep last night. Too many things going on in my life, and one question echoing in my mind: Am I happy? The answer to that is not simple, because it’s not a YES but it’s also not a NO. I think the correct, complete answer is: “I am working on it”
That answer fits my current state of mind, and upon reflection, I realize that I am entering a new phase in my life. I used to be stuck in jobs I did not like or hang out with people who didn’t really click with me. I used to be the guy who couldn’t say no, that person who would rather follow others and just settle for whatever others decide. It wasn’t always like this, but somehow it happened with stuff that mattered, the decisions that would impact my future and my happiness.
At some point, I don’t remember why exactly, I started to change. When I didn’t agree with something, I would say it. When a job wasn’t as advertised, I’d quit. When a person who called me a friend didn’t behave as such, I would move on. It’s not something I did because I made it my mission to change my life for the better. It just happened, I guess I was just fed up with feeling disappointed. But yeah, at some point I noticed the change, and it didn’t bother me, that new me was actually getting things done to pave my path towards a fulfilling life.
I am now standing up for myself. And so should you.
Society will try to force you to fit the template they’ve prepared for all of us. You need to have a stable job, you need to get and stay married, you need to be a homeowner, and so on. That’s the general, average definition of “success”. I thought things had changed, and they have a little. Nobody calls me crazy anymore for quitting a job after only three months, but I still get the occasional sarcastic comment (i.e.: “you’ve changed again? I can’t keep up with you!”). Well yes, I’ve changed again, so what. Would you prefer it if I stayed somewhere and felt miserable? Because I would not, not anymore. And that applies to everything in my life. I don’t want anything or anyone to drag me down anymore. I am putting my energy where it belongs: my kids, my family, my health, and my career… Honestly, enough of bullshit.
I want to believe that (almost) everyone, at some point, gets to this same conclusion. Some will make it earlier in their lives, while others will need more time to find what actually makes them happy. It’s a process that happens individually, it’s very hard to outsource it and if you’re doing that, you’re doing it wrong. Your own happiness should depend entirely on yourself. You can get help from others, but you can’t rely on anyone to get there. Not your parents, not your partner, not your friends… It’s you, if you’re unhappy for some reason, you need to fix that yourself. Sometimes, the people who are supposed to be your rock are really a rock, but not the rock you can hold on to. Instead, they can be more like a rock tied to your foot while you try to swim towards the surface. In those cases, you need to let go of those rocks.
Also, we’re talking about changing to be happier, right? Well, some people met you before you even wanted to change. Maybe they liked the old you better. Or maybe they didn’t want to change with you, and you’ve become a stranger to them. Or maybe they changed themselves, but in opposite directions to where you wanted to go. That’s what we call growing apart. It happens, and it sucks, but as individuals, we do that. Even if you are sharing your life with someone, it might be the case that what you now consider good for yourself is not good for them. What to do in those cases? It’s tricky, and of course, there are always ways to find a middle ground. But if communication isn’t good and you haven’t mutually shared your feelings, you both started moving away from each other. You need to ask yourself why you didn’t include some people in your plans to improve your life. Maybe you thought it wouldn’t affect that person? How so! A new you with new boundaries and new goals will surely affect those around you in ways that are not easy to control or predict. One thing is for sure: if you wanted to walk a new path and you started walking it alone or not considering some specific people, then those people probably don’t fit in your desired new life.
Anyway, if you’re still reading this, it’s probably because you’re in a similar place in your life right now. As you can see, the title wasn’t exactly clickbait, but I am yet to give you some advice about standing up for yourself. I can’t. And I don’t want to. If I were to tell you what to do to improve your existence, I would be contradicting everything I’ve just explained. I’ve told you what’s working for me (for now, because it’s an ongoing process), and if you’ve been paying attention, the message is clear: find your own way. I can’t tell you what makes you happy, only you know that. We’re all different. Sure, there are patterns and personality traits that make us similar to others, but deep down, each individual has their own hopes, desires, and aspirations. Find yours, and ask yourself what’s missing, what do you need to do to get yourself there. Don’t be afraid of letting people down or even letting people go. That’s the only thing I can suggest, but other than that, you’re on your own. This is a good thing because these days, when we’re afraid of loneliness, silence, and boredom, we barely have time to think about life and analyze why we feel stuck all the freaking time. We just roll with it until we can’t anymore.
If that’s your case, you know what you need to do. Go ahead, it’s worth the effort.