I Learned the Hard Way That Only I Could Make Myself Happy


Currently, I’m in a period of pre-transition. I’ve set my goals, am working towards them, and am pretty confident in my ability to reach them. I’m also confident that once I’ve achieved said goals, I’ll be more 1) fulfilled and 2) happier. It’s a lovely little formula in which I place x and y, and out comes perfection.

Except when it doesn’t.

In fact, I follow the “rules” I set for my formula day in and day out. I make lists and check items off of them. I know that the items carry a weight in my life and that they are leading me where I want to go, but yet, it lacks something.

I used to think that the best way to let out emotions was to let off steam. When I was angry or frustrated, I would head to the gym and start lashing it out on the treadmill. I got so worked up sometimes, I wanted to fight, to hit something or someone. Not surprisingly, all I ended up doing was screaming my vocal chords out into my pillow. Not only was I still itching with rage, but I spoke in strained whispers for a full 48 hours afterward. It was ineffective and painful.

My dance teacher used to tell us that frustration is the worse emotion you can harbor because it encompasses anger, sadness, and disappointment all in one. I think it’s because when you’re frustrated you’re either unhappy with something that you can’t change or dissatisfied with yourself.

I think it’s funny because that second one happens to be the one thing we have control over: ourselves.

There’s a gap between the way I represent myself and how I really am. I like to show others that I am happier or cooler or more secure that I actually am. Case in point, above in the fourth paragraph of this article I unconsciously used the past tense to talk about a pointless activity I do (running on the tread mill, trying to work off emotional frustration with my life) when the truth is that I did the deed this very day. Talk about a different representation of the past tense. I still get caught up in old ways of thinking. Just because I can write an article doesn’t mean I possess all the wisdom of the Buddha.

Sometimes we blame our unhappiness on other people, places, and situations (if only so-and-so or such-and-such was more like blank). Why do we do this? Well, it probably has to do with the fact that we believe outside forces dictate our happiness.

But they don’t. We do.

You have the power to make changes in your life that will give you a sense of purpose and place in the world. This can make you happy. It may not be the rush of first love or the swell you get when you’re setting out for an exciting vacation. It will be a different kind of happiness and it will waver back and forth. You will ebb and flow. It’s important that you recognize this as your ebb and flow, belonging entirely to you and independent of the people and things in your life.

We can’t always control how we feel because sometimes our neurons have a mind of their own. But we can make choices, with or without telling anyone in our lives. Often, the biggest setback to us making a great change or the decision to go for the dream is just a little thought.

featured image – Martinak15