Once upon a time, I daydreamed that I could go back in time–I’d go to college in a beach-side town. I’d bartend. I’d live in the sun and sand in a beat-up little house or apartment full of color and thrift-store finds. I’d be broke as hell, but free. And if I were exceptionally lucky, I’d meet someone who sang the same language of my heart.
I believe we all have dreams like this… but the foundation of mine actually came true, at thirty years old, and with more financial stability than I ever expected.
I was talking to a dear friend recently, and I realized that I don’t actually know how to express the joyful things in my life without a curtain of bashful guilt falling around me. For example, I wrote a post earlier this year, “Joie De Vivre”, and I still wrestle with the idea of taking it down every time I hop onto this WordPress site.
That same dear friend told me (paraphrased), “I think it’s good to share your joy with us folk in hard times. There is hope for us, if we are brave enough to go get it.”
This past decade, I’ve made quite a lot of questionable (and interesting!)–but otherwise well-reasoned–choices in quick succession. My friends have been there with the popcorn (because they get to watch the show!) and tissues (because even though I can see where the train tracks veer in advance, the ride is still SUCH A THRILL until the crash). And at the end of the day, nothing I’ve done has killed me, but rather made me far more aware of myself, what I can or should expect from myself (these are two separate things), and what I will and will not put up with when it comes to how people treat me in return. (I’d like to note that I have also most certainly become very annoying to those same friends when I point out how other people should probably be treating them better…)
I am happy. And expressing it in any capacity feels like bragging.
It took a lot to get here. I ruthlessly ended relationships that were not serving me (or serving them, really, come to think of it–they are all reportedly pretty darn happy without my excess baggage too!) I broke social norms just because I felt like it, and because it sounded fun. I carefully and calculatedly career-hopped (because I believe my mental health is more important than coldly turning people–especially not children–into numbers.) I moved states for financial freedom (cost of living in Denver is redonkulous) and rescued birds and adopted dogs all along the way.
Perhaps this is why many religions espouse the idea of freeing yourself from attachment–because when it comes to following your dreams and fulfilling your personal legend, sometimes you have to give up everything in order to find yourself.
In my case, I gave up relationships, careers, my house, proximity to friends and family, my theater community, my sense of security and safety, all of it–to find the place in the world where my heart sings. To do the work I feel privileged and destined to perform. To make a positive ripple in this mad world.
And now that I’m here, I am not only happy, but I am able to actually help other people–emotionally, financially, or physically–in a way that I was not able to before. My cup is finally full enough that I can fill the cups of others without draining the little that I had. It is both humbling and jubilant in the same breath.
This past year may have been the best of my life because I cannot imagine another possibly topping it. Then again, I would have said that about 2018 as well.. yet here I am.
Am I attached to the incredible luck I’ve been fortunate enough to experience in recent years? Absolutely. However, though things like ill health and some unlucky circumstances can hinder us, I know this joy exists–it can exist–and will as long as I always have the courage to pursue it.