Finding Happiness--Despite the "What Ifs"

We all know those people who when asked what they would do differently in their life, they respond nothing. Well I don't know if they are lying or if they really just had it all figured out the first time.  But I surely wouldn't say nothing.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm pretty satisfied with my life and the way that it is turning out.  But sometimes I wonder if I should have done it differently.  And what the outcome would have been if I did.

I am the type of person who hates to live with "what ifs" because they can ruin your happiness and make you doubt even the best decisions you've ever made.  But sometimes I can't help but let those "what if" thoughts take over my brain.

Lately, when I'm lying in bed at night, I'll start to think about the "what ifs" in my life.  The newest one that haunts me? What if I hadn't decided to go to college and pursue a teaching career. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since first or second grade.  I never changed my mind. I mean I stumbled a bit in high school and thought interior design would be a cool profession but I never really pursue it with fierce feelings. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and now that I'm here I wonder if someone should have told that little girl to open her eyes to the bigger world around her. I wonder what would have happened had someone told me that I might question this decision one day.

I have cried over it before and I learned that tears don't really get you anywhere.  Some days they don't even get you sympathy. So tears aren't worth it and they aren't the right answer.  There were days in college where I wanted to say forget it.  I wanted to pack my bags and go home. I wanted to sleep in my bed, under my parents roof and say "I don't have it all figured out."
But I learned something. I learned that I was afraid of actually accomplishing something that I wanted. There was never anything more that I wanted in life but to be a teacher.  And when the end results were finally near, I panicked. I didn't have a next step. I didn't know where the plan went after that. I realized that my goal would be complete in a few months.

I was at a coffee shop with a friend when I said that I wanted out.  I wanted to be done and to walk away from it all. We had a long conversation about what we wanted in life and what we had done to that point. He was currently changing majors... a senior in college, set to graduate in a few months and he wanted something different. People talked and shook their heads, told him that he was stupid.  But I decided something. He wasn't stupid. He was brave because he didn't care what anyone was going to say to him.  He took the steps necessary to reach his real dreams and to pursue something that he was passionate about.  The way that I am passionate about teaching.
It was during this conversation that I was told that my happiness was more important than the expectations of those around me.  That if what I wanted in life was to own a fair-trade, eco-friendly coffee shop with a used book store attached, then I should go for it. (I would still love this, I'll write about it one day). Because the people who truly love me and truly support me would eventually get behind me and support my ideas.  Because when you truly love someone you realize that their happiness is more important than the image of them that you perceived.

But I couldn't walk away, not when I was that close.

So obviously I stayed in school and graduated with high honors in May. I completed my program in education and I wouldn't trade a day of my time spent with my student teaching kiddos.  They will always be in my heart as my first class of firsties (that's what I call first graders, if anyone was confused).

But here we are again. I've accepted a teaching job in North Carolina. I've packed up all my belongings. And I've moved myself into an apartment and my first classroom. I'm trying to be happy. But I'm also sitting up at night with those "what ifs" roaming around in my head.
What if...
(I wasn't supposed to come to North Carolina)
(I don't love my job)
(I can't sit still for fear of loneliness taking over)
(I'm chasing empty dreams)
(I don't find peace in this life)
(I don't ever get that feeling of home and that sense of belonging)

And then I realized something what if I stopped wallowing in self-pity, what if I chose happiness, what if I looked for the positives everyday.

They say misery loves company and it is very true; but misery also loves people who invite it in. Misery will find you if you allow it to.

I recently have found love and support and hope in the words of Hannah Brencher--whom I've shared on the blog before. I have realized that I'm not alone.

I've also realized that I'm no good at attaining my goals. Sure, I tend to reach them and with flying colors if I do say so myself. But I tend to feel frighten of the next step and what is to come. I used to be a fearless child who would climb to the tops of tree, who would attempt backflips with no training, and who had no fear of falling--ever. Now, I'm scared of the dark and the unknown. I'm scared of falling, even when the ground is right below. I am afraid of reaching my goals, for I do not know what comes next.

Right now I have these negative "what ifs" rolling around in my head because I have not figured out my next move. And instead of processing that, my brain draws up the negatives and floats in them like a ship lost at sea. So maybe I have to try a little harder than some people, but I am determined to make this a life that I am proud of. A life that one day, I'll live without the "what ifs."

So if you were to ask me if I'd do something differently in my life, the answer will probably always be yes. Some days it's a pretty big YES--like when I felt helpless in college and wanted to go home, or right now when I'm scared of the future and want someone to reassure me that this is the right choice. But most days it will be a small yes--like I should have bought ice cream when I was at the store because now I really want it, or I probably should have had more of a gym habit in college so that I wouldn't be so lazy now. But whether my yes is big or small, it will always exist and I am okay with that. I am learning that I am human and we make mistakes and there is no way that I would ever say that I would change nothing in this life of mine.

Here's to hoping you (and I) find happiness today and everyday!

CONVERSATION

1 thoughts:

  1. we are human and we definitely make mistakes! ain't that the truth. but it's also liberating to mess up and start over. we aren't perfect, but thank goodness for second chances and thirds and fourths! i'm proud of you for taking chances. something i've been learning is that i can't expect my present circumstances to make me happy because then i'm relying on the outcome of my day to determine my attitude. it has to come from something greater. that's where my faith comes into play. thanks for your honesty in this post!

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