They say that you are responsible for your own happiness. To an extent, I agree. Nobody can make you be happy. But to those who wish to be happy and don’t know how to arrive at that point – the responsibility is perhaps not so limited. For many years when I was younger, I was not happy. I honestly did not have the understanding that happiness was an option for me. Nobody had told me I deserved that. Nobody had explained how I could help it become true. Those people who said anything to me only explained, critically, how in so many ways I fell short of what in their eyes I should be. How, in those circumstances, could I ever have hoped for happiness as an option?
Happiness is so many things – but largely, I am convinced it is a result of believing that you are who you should be and are where you feel comfortable being. It is hard – or nigh impossible – to be happy if you are not happy with who you are. It is hard to be happy if you are not happy with where you are in life. And when you have been convinced time after time that those things are not as they should be – happiness is not within easy grasp.
So, yes, I am still overweight. Yes, I do not have a career that outshines that of my successful relatives, who make way more money than me, hold prestigious titles, and have won awards. No, I will never get a PhD, no, I will never be nominated for a Nobel Prize or for Who’s Who. Yes, I still sometimes spend money foolishly, waste time, cry over silly things. I am completely not perfect. But somewhere along the way, someone was kind enough to impress upon me the fact that those things do not disqualify me from happiness. They do not make me bad.
I have managed now to take stock of what I DO have. I have a good heart. I want – more than anything – to always do the right things. But if I eat chocolate when I know I should diet, that doesn’t make me a failure at that. I want to care honestly about people and for all of my actions to be right. But if I feel lonely, and cry when I miss people – that doesn’t make me a failure at that. Through my life I have been strong, I have worked hard, I have tried, I have failed, and I have tried again. I have persevered. And I had done all of that without understanding that I could think well of myself for it. Without realizing that there was credit deserved in what I did do – not credit undeserved for all those ways I didn’t live up to what others expected of me.
Once I was given assistance in making an accurate assessment, I realized that I am closer to what I want me to be – closer to the things that matter to me – than I ever could realize when I was too busy focusing on how far away I was from what others expected. The kindness then, we can show each other is to not be critical, but instead to be observant. To observe and appreciate all of those ways that each of us is unique and special. There is nobody I know who does not have qualities that deserve to be appreciated. So yes, my happiness is my responsibility – but yes also, I am so very incredibly glad that someone (or two) cared enough to help me find it.