There is nothing that I want more in this world than to be happy.
Utterly, truly, carefree, little kid type of happiness.
I can nearly picture it in my mind. I imagine myself driving down a long road, in some convertible that I don’t own and listening to the best music I could find. With my hair blowing in the wind and a smile plastered across my face, I have no cares in the world.
I’ve come to learn that this exact moment may never happen and am well aware of the fact that this is not the true happiness that I am striving for.
But it’s nice to dream, right?
I have spent way too much of my short twenty years of life being unhappy.
Unhappy with myself, my schoolwork, my life. I could never find the type of satisfaction that I was searching for no matter what I did or how hard I tried. It was simply unachievable.
During some of my most difficult, and unhappy, times I have found one main thing in common: I am the one holding myself back from achieving the happiness I desire.
I am the sole reason for my unhappiness. The responsibility is all mine.
And in this crazy world, I can only control myself.
My thoughts, my responses, my actions. It’s all on me.
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I stand in the way of myself more often than not.
When it comes to academics, I have the highest of expectations for me.
These expectations are unrealistic as can be. Nearly unattainable.
I kill myself trying to constantly be the best. If it’s not 100%, it’s not good enough.
Heck, even if I were to receive a perfect score on an exam it still wouldn’t be good enough.
And that’s the thing. It will never be enough.
I am holding myself back from being proud of the grades I receive. I’ve earned plenty of A’s and B’s, with an occasional C here and there, but I am always disappointed.
Why can’t I just be happy with the grades I earn? An A is a fantastic grade and I should be celebrating my achievement rather than beating myself up about the few points I did miss.
My relationships, or potential ones, are largely affected by my uncertainties as well.
I am so insanely fearful of being rejected that I fail to put myself out there.
I don’t even want to think about the number of relationships that could have been if I hadn’t stood in my own way.
That is one of the most frustrating parts; it is solely my fault for causing these moments of unhappiness.
While reflecting on the past and beginning my quest towards happiness, I realized that this was kind of all my fault. The one thing in common that I found in each moment of sadness was that I felt this way due to my own actions.
That was a very hard pill to swallow.
My unhappiness is my own fault.
Now, what do I do?
I cannot go back and change the past. I don’t have the ability to time travel, as much as I wish I could. What’s done is done.
All I can do is accept my reality and move forward, starting with changing the way I think and act.
It is easier to make the change I want in my life after having identified the root of my sorrows.
One of the things I find most saddening is my relationship with others.
I spent an entire two hours discussing this with my therapist, something I wasn’t initially able to identify on my own. We talked about my fears and anxieties, the things that are making me unfulfilled, and potential ways that I could work on fixing them.
(Please bear with me while I become extremely exposed for a minute ~ one of my biggest fears of all.)
She told me flat out, “I don’t know much about you.”
I’ve been seeing her once a week for nearly three months, so this was slightly unsettling.
We talked for what seemed like forever and she “therapized” me.
Together we came to the conclusion that I, unintentionally, keep others at arm’s length, including my own therapist.
It is not something I always consciously do but it is holding me back from having the closeness in relationships I have always dreamed of.
I keep this distance in order to avoid being vulnerable in front of others.
I am so afraid that if I allow friends and family to see the true me they will no longer like me.
How childish does that sound?
I’m scared of opening up due to the fear of being disliked.
I am shielding myself. I am, once again, standing in the way of my own happiness.
I now know that in order to find the happiness I’m searching for in my relationships I must let my guard down.
Much easier said than done, right? But I know the alternative.
I can afford to put myself out there and shed the layers of my own personal onion in order to find happiness. I know that the sacrifice will be worth it.
We only had time to dive into one specific area of my life that was preventing my happiness. Still, I can do the rest of the work on my own.
Moving forward I can now take a step back and objectively examine my own life. I now have the ability to identify ways in which I am preventing myself from reaching my goal.
I am capable of getting out of my own way.
And you are too.
Here’s how I got started.
Identify your goal.
Mine is my happiness. Yours can be big or small. Be ambitious as you want. This is something you can achieve through your own hard work.
Create a list.
Write down things that are required to achieve this goal. Try to stay somewhat broad, as we will break down each and everything on this list in a minute.
For me, it involved various aspects of my life that I was feeling unfulfilled. Friendships, academics, physical fitness, and my thought process to name a few.
Individualize each bullet point.
Here is where the nitty gritty comes in. Looking at everything on your list can be quite overwhelming. So take it one at a time.
Be specific with this. What will it take to check this particular thing off your list? Write it all down, step by step. Do your research and dig deep.
One thing that is important to remember, relate this back to you. What can you do to get where you want to be. Is it a change of routine or thoroughly thinking through your actions? Whatever it may be, make sure it is something that you have control over.
Recognize the barriers.
With the steps you need to take, what can get in your way? Is it your willpower? Lack of drive? Actions of others?
If it has nothing to do with yourself and your own actions CROSS. IT. OUT.
What others do is completely out of our control so there is no point in worrying about it now.
Remember your list.
Kepp your list with you. Post it somewhere you will see. Whatever you chose to do, do not forget about your list.
Utilize it as a starting point or a resource further along in your journey. This list is important so don’t forget about it.
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From this moment on, I am relying on my list titled “Here I Come Happiness”. It is an important reminder for myself that even though there will be barriers, I can achieve my goal.
And most importantly, I am the only thing standing in the way of my own happiness.
To get where I ultimately want to be, I need to change. I need to step out of the way and stop being my own barrier to reaching my goal.
Did you make your own list? Let me know in the comments below.