What I remember most about being a kid, besides the fact that I was like 6 different flavors of awkward, is that I was a spectator and a fantasizer. Seriously, I felt like I was a permanent bench rider/water girl, put on this earth to serve as a witness to the fun, success, and happiness of OTHER people. I drew my goals for how I wanted my life to be STRAIGHT from television.
In hind’s sight that’s probably why I was so weird–trying to live out fanatical episodes which I concocted in my head. I was one of those tweens who would awkwardly insert tv concepts into real life situations. Trouble is, things never worked out in real life the same way they do on tv. One time, I even awkwardly stuffed my bra with toilet paper (something I saw on television) and my execution was terrible! People could TOTALLY tell. Ugh! (This is so funny to me! If you’re judging me right now, just know that weird kids make the BEST grownups!) But I digress.
Talk about finding yourself! I was some mix of Laura Winslow, Aaliyah, Scary Spice (because she was the black girl), the Pink Power Ranger, and the female version of Jet Jackson. (Give me a break! It was the 90’s!) I created all these alternate personas in my head as a way of participating in the happiness that I felt like I witnessed in everyone’s life but my own. As far back as my memory goes there was an inconsolable longing in my heart. I wanted to get off the bench and be in the game SO bad and just about any game would do.
I wasn’t asking for a lot, just love, acceptance, peace, and a “normal” childhood. I JUST wanted to be happy. Why did that seem to be too much to ask for?
As I got older I gained more authority over the acquisition of the happiness I was so desperate to get my hands on. If no one was going to give it to me, I was going to get it for myself. In an attempt to achieve the desired outcome, I governed my life by these little mathematical equations which I developed out of brokenness, immaturity, and American culture. They are in no particular order:
School + Grind = College = Get Away from Home= Happiness
College + Popularity = Fun + Acceptance = Happiness
College + Grind = Good Job +Accomplishment = Happiness
Good Job = Money = Happiness
(Clothes2 x Nails x Hair ) + Pretty Face = Attraction + Acceptance = Happiness
(Clothes2 x Nails x Hair) + Pretty Face + a Man= Boyfriend = Happiness
“Act-Right” + Boyfriend + Ring = Marriage = Happiness
Selfie + Likes = Validation = Happiness
Just to name a few…
It was a mess! I was emotionally depleted and even physically exhausted. HOWEVER, before you give me the bless your heart sympathy face, grab a mirror. We, the people, engage in the pursuit of happiness like this all the time! (Thank you John Locke for coining THAT misleading little phrase!) We have built whole lives around chasing after the mirage of happiness. What’s worse is that many of us will destroy anything and anybody that seems to be standing in our way/doesn’t fit into our definition of personal happiness because we bought into the cockamamey story that we “DESERVE to be happy.”
Maybe I lost you there! You might be thinking to yourself, “LaNee has lost her ever-loving mind! She done got herself a little blog and now she thinks she’s Iyanla or some-dag-on-body..Talm ‘bout (Yes! “Talm”) I can’t be happy!”
It’s all you ever wanted, right? And if you can’t be happy, what in the HECK can you be because there has GOT to be a better way, right!? I TOTALLY get it. I was right there with you until the I was let in on a little secret: Happiness and wholeness AIN’T the same thing! (Excuse my grammar!)
This became all too clear when I was passed up for THE PERFECT job (by perfect, I mean they would’ve paid me a lot of money to do exactly what I went to school to do) which the director of the organization verbally committed to me. My happiness was riding on getting that position! This wasn’t just a blow to my ego! I hadn’t even Googled any other jobs! (And you know how I am about Googling!) Before that I had two jobs which were dependent upon my status as a student. Since I had just graduated, I was no longer eligible to for either one of those positions!
What’s worse, is that I found out that I didn’t get this position (which was verbally committed to me) WHILE I was on my Celebratory Graduation Cruise with like 30 of my friends. I was out in the Bahamas, “making it rain” and spending every penny of my savings on margaritas and parasailing because I “had THE PERFECT job lined up.” (Keep a look out for a post, titled “Reasons Why I Stay(ed) Broke!”) I had no money and not a single prospect of employment!
You guessed it! I fell apart. All the way and totally.
I thought, “First I loose my parents, now this?! What about the hard work I put in? What about not using excuses? What about all the stuff I survived and put up with so that I could graduate?” I KICKED and SCREAMED and pounded the floor. Shaking my fists to the sky I yelled, “You don’t care! You don’t care if I’m happy!” It was a low and dramatic moment.
Looking back on it now, I still believe that job would’ve made me SO happy…at least initially. However, when I think about the demands of the schedule and the work environment, and how financially independent prideful I would’ve been, all that “happiness” would have stood in the way of my personal growth and my destiny.
Even though I couldn’t make a move towards my happiness in that situation, I would later find out that it was the first step in my journey towards WHOLENESS. It would be another 2 years before I understood the difference.
By the time I was 25, I had 2 degrees, a job that I loved, a beautiful son, and I spent my weekends curled up in ball, crying on my couch. Entire weekends…all because I wanted to be happy and I wasn’t. I was a long way from being a little girl, but I was STILL silently begging for love, acceptance, and peace. These aren’t terrible things. They weren’t too much to ask for…were they?
Of course not! Then what was the problem?!
The problem was that, like most of us, I was desiring wholeness and pursuing happiness. No wonder I was lost! I was basically trying to find Paris, France using a road map to Cincinnati, Ohio. How disappointing is that?!
- Happiness draws from external value to produce an internal emotion. Wholeness draws from internal value to produce external results.
- Happiness is co-dependent on the desirability of the circumstances. Wholeness is independent of circumstantial factors.
- Happiness is never completely satisfied. Wholeness fully accepts what you have.
- Happiness is a fleeting emotion. Wholeness is a journey towards living a WONDERful life. (#ShamelessButTruthfulPlug)
We have broken situations, relationships and people seeking to make them happy and not whole. It’s not really our fault. I personally blame John Locke! He undersold us on defining ‘the dream’ AND we. Bought. It! Rush delivery, with the insurance!
We have to stop settling for being happy, when we could be whole instead. Why?
Because. Whole marriages beat happy ones ten to nothing every time. One day people decide they aren’t happy with the person they’re laying next to and in a “happy marriage” that’s grounds for divorce. Whole children and people out survive happy ones nine out of eight times because eventually life is going to get all up and in the way of our ability to be happy. For a person whose only goal is “happiness” that’s grounds to quit any and everything.
You get the point. I finally realized that we’ve got it all wrong! I mean, completely and UTTERLY wrong! Along my journey, I’ve had to rewire my thinking on the subject:
(1) Most people truly desire wholeness but they seek happiness. When you are desperately looking for something in a place that it’s not, you are bound to end up sad and frustrated.
(2) If you can’t find happiness in your situation, don’t sweat it! Wholeness doesn’t discriminate! You CAN have wholeness right here, right now!
(3) When happiness is the end all, be all it demands and destroys anything you are willing to offer. I have seen people sacrifice their money, their time, and even their children, in the name of being happy. Wholeness gives. It’s a legacy of leaving things better than you found them.
(4) Happiness is cheap. It doesn’t require a substantial investment, it doesn’t last long, it breaks easily, it only looks good from a distance, and essentially it’s a mediocre, watered-down version of wholeness. Upgrade you! Go for 24-karat real thing, not some cheap knock-off, which leads me to my next point…
(5) Wholeness AIN’T cheap! It’s going to cost you and a lot of time it won’t feel good. A step towards wholeness is not necessarily a step towards happiness.
(6) Happiness is silly acting! When you chase it, it plays ‘hard to get’. But as SOON as you make a move towards wholeness and get good and comfortable, happiness starts blowing up your phone. But don’t trust it too much because, you know…these emotions ain’t loyal!
So let me ask you, are you absolutely sure you just want to be happy?
You don’t deserve to be happy! You deserve SO much more than that!
Stay Wonderful! 🙂