I have a very full life. A very good life, many would say: a family, a career, a community, friends, all of the things that go into being a well-adjusted adult. At least, that’s what it looks like in writing, on social, on “paper” and pixels. It isn’t Instagram pretty, but my life is solidly built. I’ve had a mix of opportunity and good luck that I’ve been able to parlay into a generally awesome existence. I do not need my life to be universally aesthetically appealing, because it was built for me.
That’s why it sounds precious and ungrateful to say that this isn’t enough. To say I’m not happy, all the time, given my circumstances, makes me feel like I am a whiny Gen Y yuppie, aka a GYPSY.
There is a critic that lives in all of us that says we are not entitled to say that if our lives are good. This voice tells me that because I have the basics of the Western world: love, safety, shelter, food, that should be enough. Furthermore, American work ethic tells me that if the life I have built isn’t everything I want, that’s my fault for not working hard enough.
I told myself that for years, that I had no reason to be unhappy because I had the potential to have everything. I could lose weight to be beautiful, I could work harder to be wealthier. Everything that could make me happier was possible if I was only willing to work for it. If I wasn’t willing to work for it, then that was why I wasn’t happy.
I told myself for years that if only I was more goal oriented, if only I would focus, Jillian, focus, then everything would improve and I would be happier. The awesome life I built would feel complete.
Then somewhere around last year, I realized that the goals I had been working towards had absolutely dick-all to do with being a happy, fulfilled person. If I’m not entirely happy in my own my life (outside of my relationships with my core people), it has jack shit to do with what I can afford or what I weigh. Instead, it has to do with the way I am treating my own brain, and the little box I am trying to shove it into.
And that was the revelation. It isn’t that I’m unhappy because I haven’t worked hard enough to earn everything I want. It’s that I didn’t want the right things to begin with. Fuck being thinner – my husband loves me the way I am and only wants me thinner if it gives me the confidence to wear sluttier clothes. Fuck more money – money is security to me, and the ability to Travel the World. It can make a big difference in happiness, but it isn’t everything I want. Fuck…oh, wait, professional success is still important, so maybe I should not say “fuck you Corporate America” just yet.
Why is it though that professional success is still important, especially when divorced from financial motivation? This is simply because I actually really like my career when it’s challenging and I’m getting to do the things I’m best at. When I’m poking around in data and writing up ideas for a media plan and pulling together slides on Consistent Messaging From First To Last Touch (note to self, that’s a professional article idea), then I’m happy.
So what is it missing in the rest of my life that is making me less than happy all the time? How can I light my brain up more to make that happiness more consistent and less fleeting…and maybe, in the course of things, reinforce the part of my brain that comes up with good ideas at work? (Or at least make myself more fulfilled so I feel more balanced at work)
I suspect the answer may be creativity.
I am a very pragmatic person. I am not a creative person. How am I going to make this work? I will write that in tomorrow’s post.