The day before my 22nd birthday, I cleared out the thousands of pictures occupying my computer. I deleted screenshots, doubles, and downsized to the pictures that meant the most to me; this created a timeline of sorts. A timeline that not only depicted the milestones and small events covering the past eight or so years: birthdays, graduations, vacations, relationships, but also a timeline of my excitement, disappointments, happiness, sorrow, grief, joy. With the final pictures, those most recent, I discovered something incredible: how undeniably and simply happy I am.
C.S. Lewis put it simply: “…day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different”.
It’s so easy to become trapped in the superficial aspects of the world, relationships, and what everyone thinks of us. In a generation controlled by the Internet and social media, networking, and this feeling and dire need to always be in touch and present, we actually remove ourselves, become distant – less present – to what truly matters. We lose sight of the wonderful life we have in front of us, the life we tend to ignore as we hide behind our screens.
I’m not here to lecture about social media; there are enough articles preaching on the subject. I just hope and believe that one day we will each get our “lightbulb moment”. A moment through all those articles, strategic pictures, editing until our fingers bleed, and posting to social media, analyzing likes, comments, and comparing ourselves to others, we will come to the realization that none of that sh*t matters.
Looking back, I realized all I’ve endured has finally awakened a part of me I didn’t know I had and was adamant I didn’t need: the capacity to simply love, to love others, myself, and this beautiful life.
I think it’s hard, or maybe we don’t take the time, to reflect and celebrate just how far we have come.
I’m no longer this she-devil with limited feelings; I’ve had a rescuing two years that proved how strong I truly am and all the courage I didn’t think I held. I’ve experienced a lot – good and bad – enough bad and darkness to last a lifetime. I have (as most of us have) made my way through a great deal of loss: that of others and definitely myself, heartbreaking yet crucial moments that I now see were all to get me to where I am today. Reflecting back, comparing the pictures from today to this time last year or two years ago, it’s amazing the progress I was blind to.
When we disregard the artificial and open our hearts to all the good and beauty in this world, act with and on love, release what isn’t important, we find the universe giving us back that good and that love and people who will help us continue on that path.
We can finally remark and appreciate what life has thrown us in order to help us grow.
Life is full of negativity, it never goes how we plan, and bad things will happen, but to accept this and carry on with our faces toward the sun, everything seems brighter, easier.
My dream is to travel, always has been. I never have an explanation how I will afford it, what career will allow me the freedom, I just know it’s what I want and I go after what I want. I have traveled all over the world and in the midst of my photo cleansing, I noticed the amount of pictures I take has decreased. This would or used to bother me, the lack of proof, but I know in my heart that I had a wonderful time, with amazing people, and took in each moment with my own eyes, not my phone or camera lenses.
I still struggle with this, but I rather breathe in the west coast air, walk the Italian cobblestone, cheer on my favorite basketball teams, hike the Redwood trails, shop the Chelsea markets, push people in Times Square, and have my breath taken away with each moment by myself or next to the people I love. Pictures never do justice to the amazing things I’ve seen, all the laughs I’ve had, tears I’ve cried, kisses I’ve shared.
Maybe it’s all about thinking less and feeling more, comparing less and just doing more. I have the beautiful habit of throwing leggings, t-shirts, and a bathing suit into a bag and skipping town, with nothing or anyone to worry about other than myself. This habit has helped me realize all this world has to offer, that I rather spend my money in another city, state, country, than on the newest sunglasses or shoes that will be forgotten about in a month.
There is so much more to life, there has to be.
We deserve more, our lives deserve to be celebrated and all the good that’s entitled to be held close to our hearts, namely the freedom we have in this moment. Then, there’s a lot – majority of it – that needs to be set free.
It may take some time to understand that a big part of letting go is of that and also, of those that aren’t bringing joy to our lives (it definitely too me a long a** time). People are temporary, places are temporary, it’s all temporary. The love we feel for someone and even our best intentions doesn’t give us the right to hold on to what is no longer ours or benefiting us physically, emotionally, spiritually. We know what is right, what we need to do to feel good, yet we constantly ignore our inner wisdom causing ourselves more pain in the long run. That pain, any pain, is there to tell us something, to tell us to change and to let go.
One thing I believe a lot of us underestimate is the role our own ego plays in our ultimate happiness. We need to let go of our ego. It prohibits us from making sound decisions, and doing what is right, what feels good, and doing what we are supposed to be doing in this very moment. It clouds our judgment to concern itself only with what others think of us, how we are perceived by everyone else. It rarely protects us, but almost always harms us. Let it go, and true, real, all-encompassing happiness will surface.
Happiness comes from within and will arrive when we stop handing it out freely to the things and the people that consistently disappoint us.
It’s refreshing the moment we can finally exhale and can recognize that we are actually as happy as we may have been pretending to be.
The past two decades have taught me more about life and love and happiness than I ever could have anticipated. It sneaks up on us, reveals itself in the smallest of moments (like cleaning out photos), and when we do finally realize all that we have in this world, it’s quite freeing. We need to open our eyes, our minds, and mainly, our hearts. It’s all worth it because every day we wake up is a good day and it’s time to start acting like it.
Turning 22 was a blessing, it was a great day, and will be an even better year.