If You’re Happy and You Know It… Help Me Out!
I’ve been happy lately and it’s weirding me out. Seriously.
For more than thirty years, I’ve been told that I’m too serious, that I look perpetually bored/angry/sad (a.k.a. “bitchy resting face”). I’m told that I don’t have/show enough emotion. I’m pretty Spock-like, in that it isn’t that I don’t feel emotions, but it’s that they are intense and the way I handle them is to control them. For a long time, as long as I can remember, the prevailing emotions were anxiety, fear, loneliness, frustration – almost always unpleasant ones, in one way or another. I am a cynic, and I’m usually good at it.
You would think that becoming jobless, car-less, and technically homeless right before the holidays would make those things worse, but what I realized months ago is that the source of much of that trouble was the mismatch between me and my old denomination/work. In walking away from that, as scary as the rest of it might be, I walked away from those miseries and towards a lighter life.
This week, I start a new job. An unglamorous job that is nowhere near my field, but in a town with an astronomical unemployment rate, it’s a full time job that is willing to pay me 20% more than they usually pay someone in this position. That’s a decent start, I think, while I keep my eyes and ears open for something better.
What’s really different for me, though, is that this is the first time in years that I am going to work to live, instead of live to work. That is really liberating. Another thing that is really great is that it is second shift, four days a week, and then first shift on Sundays, which means that during the week, I will have the same hours as CJ and I won’t miss family things on Sunday afternoons. One of my days off, Monday, is the same as CJ’s and the other is Saturday, which means I’ll be able to go to my niece and nephew’s games. The only sucky thing about the schedule is that first shift on Sunday means missing church, but they said they can try to work something out so I can have an occasional Sunday off.
I have a new church I love. I am close to most of my family. I have tremendous friends who are so kind and supportive. I’ve had two months of God providing for me in ways I didn’t expect. My anxiety level is almost zero compared to what it was two months ago. I have a boyfriend who seems to be an exceptionally good fit. I have a new job that is in some ways better than I’d expected. I have a place to live that might be a little drafty, but I also have a space heater and blankets galore. I have the best parents in the universe, even if they watch way too many episodes of NCIS. I have a dog that is my best friend some days, always willing to listen and forgive me for my bad moments.
And all of this is weirding me out.
I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not afraid. I don’t know how to think about myself when I’m not beating myself up. Some days or hours have still been rough, but not like they used to be. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but at the same time, I am not so miserable about where I am. I am smiling a lot more – I think – at least on the inside – and this less Spock-like expression just feels weird. A good weird, but I still feel like I don’t quite know what to do with it. If I’m honest, sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be happy, that I haven’t done anything to earn it, or that it’s all going to fall apart just as soon as I settle into it.
I’ve realized that I kind of don’t know how to be happy. This new homeostasis is more pleasant, but like all transitions, it’s also a little exhausting. New ways of thinking, new habits, new bits and pieces of life coming together, combining into some weary days sometimes. It’s in those weary moments that I struggle the most, when I’m tempted to revert back into my cynicism and dwell on the things that AREN’T making me happy. Usually, I can catch myself before I’m too far down that rabbit hole, or I have enough good sense to let Melissa and Brandon remind me that it’s going to be OK.
Learning how to be happy is an unexpected task, but one that is long overdue. Sometimes, I’m in such a good mood that I kind of annoy myself because I feel like all those perky people who used to annoy me. As tiring as it may be, I’m going to try to keep this up. It’s bound to make for a much more pleasant Cindy for everyone involved. I may even find that I like the newer, more pleasant me.
Posted on January 4, 2015, in Anxiety, Growing Up, On Being a Woman and tagged Anxiety, Change, Confidence, Fear, Happiness, Happy, Joy, New Beginnings, New Job, Transition. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.