Don't accept that being miserable is your destiny.
Life is so short. It's frighteningly, heart-stoppingly, makes-you-want-to-puke-when-you-contemplate-it short. It's too short even if you live to be one hundred, and that's because the world is simply too big and too beautiful for us to ever take in with the time we're given.
And we waste so much of it doing things we hate.
We force ourselves to spend time with people who make us cringe, we work endless hours in jobs we loathe, we stay glued to social media even when we resent the hell out of it. We laugh at jokes that make us uncomfortable. We double down on our dumbest opinions because we need to feel a part of something.
Countless years are lost to the lies we tell ourselves about being in love because the alternative is being alone, and being alone scares us more than being lonely lying next to someone at night.
I'm not talking in the abstract. I've done every one of these things.
I've found myself sitting in someone's house, watching everyone around me and feeling completely disconnected from everything going on. Looking in the dirty bathroom mirrors of strangers at a face I know as well as theirs, asking myself questions I don't have answers for, washing them down with another cup of whatever someone hands me.
I've put up with cheap tips and aching feet, the slightly unfocused eyes of men who've had a few too many raking over my ill-fitting uniform like it had no secrets. I've dealt with customers yelling down the phone at me, yelling in my face, yelling in the middle of a store without any real purpose in mind other than pushing their misery off on someone else for a day.
I've spent hours aimlessly scrolling social media sites, looking for something to lift me up, desperate for something to stoke the flames of daily outrage, and it rarely disappointed on that count. I've picked up my phone in the middle of dinner, in the middle of a conversation with my kids, at a stop sign, a red light, in bed.
I let myself become a willing prisoner to the hollow validation of likes and shares, and I forgot about all the life I lived before I ever even held a smartphone.
It goes on and on, a laundry list of all the ways I've wasted time, stayed in one place too long, settled for something less than I deserved. I'm very close to the halfway mark of the average American lifespan, and that's assuming nothing happens between now and my seventy-eighth birthday.
And that's what's behind the heart of my outrage and grief over everything that's happening in our world, an awful voice that keeps screaming, LOOK AT ALL THE TIME YOU ACCEPTED MISERY AS YOUR DEFAULT WHEN YOU COULD HAVE EMBRACED HAPPINESS.
I'm not the type of person who thinks everyone should be happy all the time. In fact, the cult of happiness can do a lot of damage because it doesn't come with realistic expectations. Life is unpredictable and unfair, and we will all have to deal with loss, grief, sadness, and sometimes what feels like an endless streak of bad luck.
But for all that, maybe even BECAUSE of all that, we can't afford to throw our time and energy at sh*t that simply doesn't matter. So f*ck all that stuff.
Don't accept that being miserable is your destiny. When something brings you joy, put that experience in your pocket and carry it with you wherever you go. Treat each breath like the gift it is. Look at each day as a new opportunity to keep sh*t real and let your light shine.
Get out there and find the things that make you happy, then hold on to them for dear life.