Buffy gets it
Buffy gets it.

A question that has been weighing on my mind lately is how can I make myself happy? In principle, this seems like a silly question. I know myself better than anyone. I know what I like and dislike. Yet I have trouble finding things to do or think about that I actually get pleasure from. I like drawing, yet after about half an hour, I’m bored. I like watching endless episodes of my new favorite show (right now it’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine), but doing so makes me feel like a potato that is slowly becoming one with my bed. It’s a temporary distraction, if anything. I like making my brain work, but it’s hard to find something that seems interesting enough for me to put my brain to work on.

I often describe this feeling as being at a loose end. I need a change. I need to shake things up. But when I try to find something to do to get rid of this feeling, I can’t come up with anything. It’s endlessly frustrating. There are lots of things I could do but none seem right or instantaneous enough.

This is another issue: instant gratification.  I can’t imagine it’s just me that feels this. I have no patience anymore. I can’t wait in lines (something which my roommate can attest too—sorry Melissa), and I get antsy doing anything for more than about half an hour. It’s the same way with happiness. I keep trying to find an instant fix, something that will make me happy RIGHT NOW. I know it’s unrealistic, but I just want something—anything—to flip that switch in my brain and lift the blanket of monotony that I feel weighing on my chest. This often leads to me dying my hair a new color because it is the fastest and most noticeable change I can make myself, yet it’s never as satisfying as I hope it will be.

One of the problems is loneliness. I’m an introvert and I love being by myself, but that doesn’t mean I like being alone. It sounds counterintuitive, and in a way it is. I want to be by myself and be happy just being with myself, but I know that having people whom I know love me makes me feel so much better. That doesn’t mean going out and being surrounded by people 24/7, but it means having someone that I can turn to and not have to worry about what’s going on in their head or whether or not I’m being annoying—or even if I am, they don’t care. Someone to talk to about anything and everything. Someone that will make me happy.

This is an unhealthy need, and I know it is. Most of the time I don’t care what people think of me, but then when I’m feeling at a loose end and can’t make myself happy, I turn to other people to make me happy, and that’s not fair. I expect too much from them. I know I’m happy when I’m in a relationship and have someone to always lift my spirits, show me that I matter. I get this feeling from other people too, but it’s not quite the same. It’s instant gratification, a quick fix. But then as soon as I’m on my own again, the loneliness and emptiness set back in.

I think normally this is when one would turn to drugs, drinking, or lots of meaningless hookups (or all three), but I know myself enough to know I wouldn’t like any of those solutions. So instead I lie face down in my bed half asleep, for hours, wallowing in my own emptiness. I need to make a change but knowing what that change is seems like an impossible thing to figure out. I want to be enough for myself. I want to find that thing that impassions me, that I can hone in on and obsess over. I love obsessing. It anchors me. Without that anchor, I’m just adrift in my life, going through the motions.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for everything and everyone I have in my life. I am so unbelievably thankful to be in Paris, to be getting an education, to be following my dreams.

But getting to Paris was my dream…so what’s next?

6 thoughts on “Make Me Happy”

  1. Maddy, this entry is so beautiful, honest, and articulated with impressive clarity. Thanks for sharing, you inspired me to approach my day with a bit more vulnerability. I’m wishing you well in your journey, sending hugs.

  2. Love this piece. You are so courageous to put it out there.
    You already know what I think:
    1) You’re not alone in your feelings. This is a normal developmental stage — the who am I stage.
    2) Trying to run from the feelings always makes it worse. Sitting with the discomfort is actually the first step to feeling better.
    3) Vulnerability leads to Connection and connection is the antidote to loneliness.
    4) Eventually, participating in something bigger than you (i.e. work, internship, etc. ) where you feel effective and are productive is key — like writing this blog. 🙂

  3. Honestly I think we’re all feeling a little like you are, you’re just the only one brave enough to put it out there ?.

    Like you I’m also introverted, but much less so than I used to be., so everything you’re saying resonates with me as well.

    The one difference is probably that I’ve been on my own for years now. Going through a military deployment plus traveling alone for a year you have no choice but to accept that you’ll be alone a lot, and for better or worse, you get used to it.

    I’m starting to ramble now so I’ll shut up ?.

    P.S- Brooklyn Nine Nine is hilarious!

  4. I’d love to know how you dealt with being so alone for so long, if you can remember any particular strategies you used to motivate yourself. I bet you military guys have to come up with lots of ways to keep you going!
    And yes I love the Nine Nine. I’m already on the third season and I started the show last weekend!

  5. Hi Maddy – first of all, I love your blog!! Second, thanks for posting this. I’m in Madagascar, and whether I’m here or at home in VT, there’s often this mundane veil that covers my daily routine. Being abroad, I’ve found that doing things that I’ve always wanted to do but never really had the time to do in VT, has helped so much. I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook (but never got around to it in Btown), so here my Malagasy friends have shown me how to make these really yummy recipes. I do yoga everyday, I read, and I practice my French. Yoga has certainly helped me because it teaches me to really live in the moment – I’m a lot more centered now, which makes me feel happier day to day. If you ever want any links to amazing yoga vids, let me know. Best wishes to you in Paris, very very jealous! 🙂

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