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In the Pursuit of Happiness

Dear you, whoever you are. If you read this, I hope you are doing well, and if not, please do not forget there are always things to be happy about. Even if it is just an hour more you can sleep in the morning, your coffee was extra tasty, or you are having a good hair day. There are always good things, even if it does not seem like there are.

I consider myself to be a confident person. I know I am intelligent. I have a talent for drawing faces. I have an incredible sense of humor. I possess a considerable bit of creativity, and I am open minded. My self-esteem has neither led me into believing I am better than others nor has it completely taken over my life. I am a confident person, and that is wonderful. But I was not always this way.

For some reason, we have defaulted to being unhappy with ourselves. We think that we are not attractive enough, smart enough, healthy enough, exciting enough, or anything like this glamorized, perfect version of ourselves we dream about to escape our daily lives. Now, there are ways to be better than we are. We should continue to grow and develop ourselves as human beings, but when self-depreciation and belittlement are the core of every attempt, it is impossible. How can anyone become the better version of themselves when they alone destroy their every effort?

Society has led us to believe that ideas such as the following will make us Happy™:

·         I will be happy when I become rich and successful.

·         I will be happy when I find the love of my life.

·         I will be happy after I lose weight.

Happiness is not something that you have or do not have, it is not something that can be found and it is not related to the background we come from. Once you begin to realize what your own true happiness is and is not, then it is possible to make choices that will create happiness for yourself.

Recently, I read about the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. One of the truths simply states that wanting creates unhappiness. For example, when the new iPhone comes out, you want it. Then, after you get the new iPhone, you believe you are happy. But if you did not want that new iPhone, you would be happy with the one you already own. It is not the old phone that is making you feel unhappiness; it is the desire to have something better.

Speaking of making something better, I hate New Year’s resolutions. I never saw the point in them since I never accomplished one. This year is different. I decided to make one and stick with it. It seems pretty simple, but it is solely to be happy.

Now I understand it is not the same case for everyone, but I know what it was like for me. I will be 20 soon, and I did not have an ounce of confidence until I was 19. I never found myself to be smart or interesting, I was the weird friend in high school and people always thought my friends were prettier than I was.

I would cry because I could not bear the idea of going to school, doing homework, and then repeating the cycle again, all while being expected to smile. I was extremely bored of my surroundings and nothing interested me. I revolved around my self-loathing. I would not do things because I would look weird doing it. I did not want to say an answer in class because it might be wrong. I did not want to hang out with my friends because I was so uncomfortable. Life, in every fiber of my being, made me want to cry.

I was tired of being sad all the time, and I figured if I am not satisfied with the way things are, what am I going to do about it? It was not a perfect attempt; I had my ups and downs, but it all brought me to this moment right now. I made a ton of new friends and I love my major. After everything I can say the acceptance of ones self-worth and who they are is the most liberating experience anyone can do for themselves.

But we hate when others are confident. Trust me, just keep reading. We tell others to love themselves, embrace their differences, do not care what others think; but the minute someone does, we hate them for it. Again for some reason, self-depreciation and low self-esteem have taken the appearance of humility. If someone is not partaking in the sport of hating themselves, they are not seen as being confident but rather they are vain.

I understand why others do this, though, as I once had the same mindset, so I do not view it as a fault in the other person. I cannot blame someone for following the view our society has shoved down our throats. It is just so stupid because when I think about it, I resented confident people for simply being happy. How awful is that?

I want this to change. I want people to love themselves. I want people to see worth inside themselves. I want people to be proud of their accomplishments. I want people to showcase their talents and creativity. I want people to not feel the need to depend on others for validation. I want people to look at the mirror each day and be happy with what they see.

Loving yourself is not wrong. Being proud of yourself is not wrong. Believing you are talented is not wrong. Believing you are less than you are is what is wrong.

by Mackenzie Nestor

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