We are never happy because we’ve been told to expect the world. By 20-years-old we should have boxes of achievements, shelves full of trophies, a perfect relationship and everything in order. We are told that we have to go to college, get perfect grades, and make sure that every aspect of our life is ready for the perfect Instagram smile.
We are never happy because we are told to never cut ourselves slack. We beat ourselves up over every bad breakup, every missed opportunity, every failed test. There is never any room for error, there is never any room to be human. We let ourselves be defined by our worst moments, our biggest screwups, our most embarrassing mistakes. We don’t see ourselves as people who have overcome adversity, struggled on past breakups, or slogged on even as we were tired. We see ourselves as the person who wasn’t hot enough for our crush, wasn’t good enough for our dream job, wasn’t smart enough for that test. We define ourselves by what we aren’t, instead of by what we are.
We are never happy because the filters we smooth ourselves over with on Instagram don’t exist in real life. We are consumed by our shortcomings and wish that we could just instantly “valencia” them all out of our lives. We don’t see mistakes as opportunities for growth, we see them as proof of our failure. We don’t let ourselves step back and think. We don’t cut ourselves a break, we just beat ourselves up.
We are never happy because our life doesn’t look like the charismatic celebrities on our favorite shows, or our friends who post exciting tweets about their travels or their successes. We are never happy because we are judging ourselves on a curve that is simply too steep to reach.
Next time you fail — fail without considering yourself a failure.
Next time someone devalues you, or suggests something is your fault — think very carefully before saddling yourself with the blame.
Next time you want to despair over something that has gone wrong — remember everything that has gone right.
Next time you are reminded of what you are not — remember what you are.
You are more than your biggest mistake. You are more than your shortcomings. You are you, in all your grandeur and all your beauty. If you remember that, slowly, happiness will find you.