Author: Ian Stewart
Read Time: 4-5 minutes, 831 words
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Today I’m writing this to share my experience of finding happiness with you all. I know happiness can be found in many forms, and if you’re someone out there who feels complete and is content with life, then good for you. But if you’re someone out there who feels lost and is being weighed down by the pressures society places on you, then I want to hear from you.
I suppose I should start off by explaining who I am. I’m a person, now in my thirties, who doesn’t feel like they’ve ever grown up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a responsible adult who works to pay the bills. Have I taken on the cultural expectations of becoming an adult? Yes and no. I spent about eight years of my twenties feeling miserable, and I had to look at what was the cause of that misery. It turns out that I had forgotten who I was. When I was in school I didn’t particularly care for education. I only went there to socialise rather than learn. This is not something I would advocate, by the way. Whilst some people were carefully plotting their career paths in school, I was lost in music and art. Ironically, those were two classes that I showed most promise in, yet decided not to pursue. I had no interest in learning to read sheet music whilst playing drums to the Eastenders theme or drawing fruit on a table. The music I loved was raw, fast and heavy. The art I enjoyed was in the form of graffiti. If you showed me spray paint and rust in an abandoned space, then I could write you an essay on romance. Sadly, this was not part of the school curriculum, so I found myself leaving without much of an education and with limited options. Unconcerned by this, I had a go at life on my own terms, but through naivety and alcohol abuse things fell apart rapidly. In my early twenties, I found myself in a delicate position and completely lost. I wanted my family to be proud of me, and to do that I thought that I had to grow up. But growing up to me meant giving up who I was. I began to jump from one career to the next, desperately trying to find stability and normality somewhere. I was trying to put myself in a box that I could never fit in to. The more I failed, the more I began to resent the things I enjoyed and who I was as a person. I became stressed about everything in my life and was a horrible person to be around. Eventually there came a point where I had to say that enough was enough. To get little enjoyment from life is no life to live.
I wish I could say that it was easy to find happiness again. It would be great if there was a reset button that we all had in our brain, but alas it does not exist. Instead, I see our problems more like a ball of string tied in knots. We’ve just got to sit down and undo every knot we’ve tied. I’m not finished yet, but I’m glad that I made a start on it. We will never get through life without upsetting someone along the way. Sometimes we do this unintentionally to people we care about, just by being who we are and their inability to understand who that is. But that’s not your problem, it’s theirs. You need to make sure that you never stop being who you are just to please someone else. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my sister who told me “Be a mirror, not a sponge.” You can’t please everyone, and some people may turn their back on you, but you can never be happy in life if you turn your back on yourself.
Part of the reason we started this blog was to connect with people out there who are like us. I would love it if we heard from people who found themselves in a similar position to myself, and if anyone out there is struggling, then I would urge you to think back to what made you happy in your youth. It won’t solve all your problems, but it might be a start. Undo those knots! Pick up that pen to write a story, paint, play an instrument, skateboard, reconnect with yourself, start a blog, or a podcast. Some people will laugh at you but fuck them. Most of us don’t get our dream jobs, but in our free time we can stay creative and work towards achieving our dreams. We are not limited by our age and it’s perfectly OK to not have it all figured out. The world is a big place and we all belong somewhere. Sometimes it’s easy to feel most at home in a room full of strangers.
Ian Stewart is on Twitter: @GutterKid101