The Happiness Misconception

Trying to navigate the world and create a life you love is not an easy feat. Especially when you first step out into the abyss that is the "real world." 

There are so many options to choose from. There are so many routes you can take. There are so many obstacles in the way. 

We see our friends and acquaintances making big moves to New York, Australia—we see them traveling the world and doing radical things. 

We start to freak out, because although we are grateful for each and every day, we can't help but think it is time for us to do something dramatic. To experience something more and make someone proud. 

Change is good. Challenge is good. 

The misconception I believe we instill in ourselves, is that in order to be happy, we must make a drastic change in our lives. 

We must move to a new city. We must quit our job. We must travel the world. 

And sometimes, the timing is right to do just that. 

And sometimes, it's not. 

I'll admit that as much as I pride myself and preach to people about being grateful, I am a dreamer at heart. I am a day-dreamer, thinking of big cities and open spaces and adventures different from my own. 

I used to beat myself up for this. Wondering why I couldn't just be. I tried to change the way I thought, "just live in the moment, quit dreaming and appreciate what you have."

But then I realized... quit dreaming? 

That's just not me. 

And that's not what I want to be.

I think the problem with my dreaming was that I paired it with the misconception of the need for drastic change. I started picturing myself in new places with new faces, and me, as a different person than I am now. I was cooking, drawing, taking photography classes, etc etc etc.

It wasn't until a recent drive to CA that I realized something. Something important. 

I realized that it was okay that I was a dreamer, as long as I was grateful. I realized it was okay if I loved where I am in life, as long as I balanced that with not becoming stagnant. 

I realized that I could be anyone I wanted to be today, tomorrow, or any other day. I realized that I didn't need to move across the country and change my entire foundation in order to be happy—in order to gain a fresh start. 

I realized that while I want to do so many things in my life, what I have done is also already pretty great.

You can re-invent yourself at anytime, in any place. The truth is, for a lot of us, bills, obligations, and career moves aren't going away. A lot of us just cannot pick up and sail the Caribbean Sea if we are also staying true to our values and goals. 

And that's okay. 

It's okay to be who you are. It's okay to love who you are. 

So no, maybe I won't travel the world for three years like some of my awesome friends. But why is that? It's because my career and different goals don't coincide with that life. Not right now anyway. 

And that's okay.

For so long I thought that a big, dramatic change was what I needed to be my whole self and truly happy, when really I just needed to learn that what truly makes me happy is accepting and loving who I already am, and evolving and growing into who I want to become. 

Anastasia Warren