Here’s the kicker; the cold, hard truth—at least how I see it. When I say happy, what do you see? Do you see friends or family? Do you see a tropical island with drinks served in coconuts? Do you see Hogwarts and the entire Order welcoming you with open arms? Do you see a favourite band, or an actor putting their arms around you? Think about what you see. The way you encapsulate happiness, is yours and no one elses.
I believe that society tells us, gives us a blueprint, of where we should find happiness. We are expected to go to school, go to university, find an avenue that interests us, fall in love, have a baby and get that cycle rolling again. I’m not saying that those things don’t bring happiness along with them, but society, or rather life in general, seems to expect that absolutely everyone needs these things to be happy. And that if we don’t find happiness in these things we should feel bad that we don’t.
I find happiness, intense happiness, in discovering a new TV show that I can watch marathon style—at the moment, that TV show is Supernatural. I know that I am not alone in this—Tumblr is proof of that. But still, I feel society frowning upon me for sitting alone in my room smiling because a fictional character ‘made a funny’. So, yes, maybe I’m not exercising my social skills, but that does that mean that I’m not truly happy?
The same thing happens when I open a book, listen to my favourite album and even when I sit down to write. I understand that none of these are social activities. I also get that I am probably fighting against societal norms; but is that really so bad? After all, we say that individuality should be cherished …
We get caught up in how we think that our life should turn out—according to the societal norms set up for us back when the notion of society was first formed. We measure our happiness by how much money we have, how many friends we have, whether we are in a relationship or single, our education, our job; but we never stop and think about what it is that actually makes us happy. This is me stopping and thinking.
You might find happiness in your job, in surrounding yourself with family; I am not saying at all that that is wrong. All I am saying is that you shouldn’t feel bad if your happiness doesn’t necessarily fit within those circumstances that society plans for us. It took me years to accept this; it took me years to understand that I wasn’t alone.
There was a day when I was about nine or ten years old—it’s still so vivid—my parents had moved the car out of our garage and I was rollerskating around on the concrete by myself. I had a pop song of the time stuck on repeat in my head—I had listened to it on the radio that morning. I was humming and singing this song over and over and I was skating in circles. For that moment, that point in time, I was unequivocally happy. Somehow, in a way, I have remained this way. Why? I don’t know. But I find extreme happiness in small things, rather than the overarching ‘big picture’ that society seems to plan for all of us.
What, I feel, we get caught up in, is that we try and fit people in to normal and obscure, rather than seeing everything as varying degrees. For example, you could sit on a bus full of people—all of you dreaming of happiness. It could be quite possible that each of your happinesses are different; they may be similar, but not exactly the same. Individuality: a wonderful thing, right? Yet we all walk around calmly; we all go to work; we all are civil, earn money; educate ourselves; fall in love; make babies. We work against individuality, yet claim to value it.
So after thinking about all of these things, I try to tell myself that the fact I find joy in unconventional avenues, doesn’t make me bad. I shouldn’t feel bad to be different; different is good. I don’t want to be a robot, a sheep or a person stuck in a life that I don’t want. And, as I said at the start, my happiness is mine. So why let others control where I find the things that make me happy?
A pocket of air formulates deep in her lungs. It expands until her lungs are ready to burst—like a balloon if you took a pin to it. Then as though deciding to spontaneously reverse, the air, converted and used, rushes to escape through parted teeth.
She only does this when she doesn’t know what to do—how to act around what she’s facing. It’s kind of involuntary—the feeling of inundation itching to escape her.
She spends her days dreaming of a better world than that around her—one where problems aren’t as raw and gory. Though she knows that troubles are never truly escapable, she still dreams. In the meantime, she uses other worlds created by the universe’s artists to satisfy her cravings of a new tomorrow.
She wants to be ‘normal’ to stop the guilt, but ‘normal’ just doesn’t seem be going for her. She sees merit in family. She sees merit in friends. Of course she sees merit in having a job—the money is proof of that. But if she were asked to list the parts of her life that make her happy, those three things would be at the tail end of the top ten.
Of course, the family don’t really understand—hurt that they didn’t feature higher. She tries to explain, that just because their number may be seven or eight, doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love and cherish them—they’re a given … they’re family. They kind of make her pull her hair out at times.
But when the pressure escalates beyond belief, and the air pinballs on the walls of her windpipe, she remembers that she doesn’t have to feel guilty for going along with societal norms, nor for fighting them. At the end of the day, her life is her own and she can find and make happiness wherever she chooses.