Chances are, if I were to ask everyone who reads my blog what happiness is (without allowing you to Google something clever), I would get a different response from everyone of you. If you ask me every day this week, I’ll likely give you a different answer each time, but one of the things I’m pretty solid on is that happiness is not a long-term emotion. Joy, contentment, and other positive states of being are more long-term, but I tend to think of happiness as a sort of short-lived spike in my mood. There are a lot of things that make me happy – coffee, crunchy fall leaves to step on, thunderstorms, hearing my dad or brother pray, a good hair day, whatever. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, either. One good Billy Joel song on the radio while I’m driving and I’m golden.
However, I’m not great at showing it most of the time. I think because I sometimes forget that what seems so vivid in my mind isn’t known to everyone else, so while I may be perfectly content in whatever it is I’m doing, that doesn’t spill over into something other people see. In fact, sometimes I’m having such a good time that it pushes me more inward, where I can think about it more and more. Sometimes, when it’s a more personal happiness, I tend to keep it to myself (and just a very few friends) because I am not ready to share it yet. I know, that sounds strange to my extroverted friends, but it’s how I function. As a result, people misread my quietness for unhappiness, the lack of perkiness as sullenness. I’m not saying that I’m a robot who is never perky or cheerful, only that it’s not a dominating characteristic.
Recently, someone told me that she was worried because I seem unhappy. She happens to be someone who is quite the opposite of me, often bubbly and chatty, and I believe that she’s sincere in her concern. I appreciate her concern, and her willingness to talk to me about it. It made me think about whether or not I am “happy” right now. If I’m honest, I haven’t been for most of the time during the last couple months.
Here’s the thing, though – I’m not UNhappy, either. Not being happy and being unhappy are two different things. The last couple of months have been stressful. Not the same kind of stressful as I had day after day in the town I just left, but in the last 2 months I’ve:
- Had mono
- Moved away from my family
- Moved away from my friends
- Moved away from my person
- Left my congregation
- Started in a new position in a ministry team instead of on my own
- Tried to learn a new town
- Moved to a town where I knew virtually no one in a state I’ve never lived in before
- Dealt with upheaval and conflict in my new ministry
- Continued losing weight(and occasionally gaining, and sometimes plateauing)
- Lost a friendship of more than two decades
- Tried to learn a new congregation
- Worried about both of my best friends. A lot.
- Continued to work on managing my anxiety disorder and PTSD
Not the most stressful season I’ve had, but it hasn’t been a summer with any kind of routine or sense of normalcy, so while I have had moments of happiness – getting to buy smaller jeans than before, an iced latte and Springsteen while I’m driving, a new dress that makes my boobs look great, a relaxing day at the fair with friends, to name a few of them – it has been stressful. Not debilitating or anything, but still worth noting. My therapist says that I have a high stress tolerance, which is good, I suppose. It’s much better than the alternative. Unfortunately, while I can handle the stress pretty well, it does mean that I am not exactly a bubbly person.
I have to figure out how to get better at communicating my moods, but I’m not sure how to not get anxious about it. I have to figure out how to not be fake about it. I’m often a serious person, an intellect who is selectively amused, and people don’t know what do to with that. People often seem to not know what to do with me.
Am I happy? Not most of the time. I’m not unhappy, though, and that’s important.
Posted on August 25, 2014, in Anxiety, On Being a Woman and tagged Anxiety, Communication, INTJ, Joy, Moving on, On Being a Woman, Relationships, Women's Issues. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.