Last year, when I was moving back home from Minneapolis (my first, post-grad position), a friend gave me a card with the most profound quote on the cover. It said, “”Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” In that moment, the weight of those words did not really hit me. It wasn’t until I was back home, jobless and in small, town Tulsa that I understood.
My friend, who gave me the card, is a lot like me. She is a thinker, a planner, a type A kind of person. We prefer structure over chaos, a map over the uncharted and ordered steps over a free fall. I thought it was funny that she was giving me the card. It was as if she was telling me, “Stephanie, I think you may need these words to carry you through in the months ahead.” If she did think that, well, man was she ever right.
The card now sits on my desk, where I can see it every time I enter the room. It serves as a constant reminder to me that this life will not always go as planned, but happiness is a choice. Happiness doesn’t just happen when you get to the goal or the dream you have been working toward. Happiness starts with me. It starts now. It is my choice, and I have decided to choose happiness as I travel along my journey.
Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):
“Enjoy the journey.”
It seems like in our culture today, there is always the illustrious “more”. More money. More success. More fame. More, more, more. There is always something to attain. While there is nothing wrong with striving for better things, I think it becomes a problem when we tie our happiness to a dream or to our “more”. My passion is writing for magazines and film and to use media to inspire women and girls. My dream place is L.A. I have always thought, “I will be happy someday when I get to California. I will be happy when I have reached a certain amount of success. I will be happy once I’ve made it.” The reality is you can have all the success in the world and still be miserable.
Like anything, happiness is a choice. I am so grateful that my fellow planner, type A personality friend gave me a note that reminded me to not get so caught up in my destination that I forget to enjoy my journey. My fellow twenty somethings, this is a wake up call. Life is messy. It can be chaotic and the unexpected is always right around the corner. Work toward your dreams. Give it everything you’ve got, but do not put your life on hold, thinking that you will be happy once you “make it”. Happiness isn’t in a dream job, a relationship or a city. While those things are nice to have, your happiness is up to you. It’s in your hands and all depends on your attitude and how you choose to spend your time.
Since I have been back home, I have been learning to create my own happiness. I am choosing to enjoy the little moments and to be deliberate with my time. Now, I make time for weekly dinners with my parents. I call and Skype friends more often. I eat at new restaurants. I challenge myself physically with new goals. I try new things and go to new cities in surrounding states. I do these things on purpose because I want to make the most of my time. Before, I thought that I had to wait to be happy until I attained my dreams, but I now understand that happiness is not a destination. It is a daily choice. It is my choice and yours.