This archived article was written by: Katrina Wood
I’ve made a lot of big decisions lately, and after thinking them over, I’ve decided to make another: I’m bidding my misery farewell and choosing to be happy.
It’s a decision I’ve made before, and one that took me too long to make again. The first time, after dealing with constant disappointment, frustration and heartache, I realized how sick I was of being sad. Again, after facing relentless loneliness, dissatisfaction and hurt, I’ve recognized how little being miserable fits me.
This time, things are different. The first time I made the choice in high school, I decided there was no time in my busy schedule to be down in the dumps. I was going to be happy, joyful, over the moon and no one was going to stop me. There was nothing keeping me from a having a sunny disposition 24/7, and that was that.
Now, I’ve realized something else. I’ve faced many new and different challenges since then, and learned that while I was right on the money for the most part, I missed a few key elements in my goal for happiness. Namely, I forgot it was okay to be sad.
Yes, it sounds silly at first. I’m telling you that on the journey to happiness the second time around, I realize I have to be sad sometimes. I have to do the exact opposite of what I am trying to do to make it happen. Wait, what?
When I first decided to be happy, I completely blotted out my sadness. Through various talks and life lessons, I learned happiness is a choice, so I decided to stomp out my misery in full. For a long time, my plan worked.
High school was easy. I had fun classes, great teachers and incredible improvement with my writing, drawing and flute skills. As if that wasn’t enough, I had tons of awesome friends I loved. Though the stress of tricky classes occasionally graced me, nothing too serious plagued my high school experience. I was happy.
Everything changed in college. I enrolled in uninteresting generals I didn’t want to take, learned from teachers that sometimes bored and frustrated me, and while I still improved in my writing and drawing, my greatest opportunity for flute practice was canceled.
Worst of all, my high school friends were suddenly gone. Some left for other schools, some were called on missions
and some got married. Though I made a few new friends, many of them also left on missions, got married or never had the time to hang out.
Slowly, the happiness I worked so hard to attain slipped away. I was alone, hurt and confused. And after a time, I was mad because I was sad. So for the second time in my life I decided to be happy, but for some reason I couldn’t do it. I tried to smile and laugh things off, but no matter how hard I tried, I still hurt.
I become angrier and angrier, and my anger snowballed into greater heartache. Why couldn’t I overcome my sadness? I had done it before. I knew I was capable, so why was I stuck at square one?
At this point in my writing I’m supposed to tell you how I come out victorious. This time I can’t do that. This story is still in the works. To this moment I’m lonely and frustrated, and doing everything I can to overcome it—but I’m doing it knowing it’s okay to hurt.
It’s taken time, but I’ve realized it’s okay to cry when things aren’t turning out the way I planned. The important part is not to let my misery rule me. Feeling pain is a reaction I can’t control, but my emotions—what I give in return—is a choice I make.
I can be sad that I’m lonely, but it’s not going to ruin me. I can be frustrated that making friends is hard, but it’s not going to destroy my chances for making new ones. I can be annoyed I don’t get asked on dates, but it’s not going to convince me that I won’t eventually.
If anything, all these remind me how important it is to be content. Although I’ll face hardships, I know everything will be alright in the end. The sun is always shining behind the clouds, and though I prefer the sunshine, it’s just as important to dance in the rain as it to bask in the sun. As a wise creature from one of my favorite games told me, “Everyone hates rain, but I’m pretty sure they hate droughts a lot more.” And you can’t grow without both.