Author: Valery B.
There is never a perfect time to start looking for happiness and fulfillment. So, why not start now?
Many of us live everyday, adhering to the same routine, following the same lifestyle, partially fearing the notion of change. We cradle ourselves in the comfort of routine and, unseemingly, withdraw ourselves from the rich culture blossoming outside our doors. The cyclical pattern of eat, work, sleep becomes our mantra, and so we live, trying to convince ourselves that this is the way it is supposed to be. This is the best we can do right now.
But, how can we live our lives, which are meant to be adventurous and memorable, when habitual activities become our driving forces? How can we fall into a pattern of sameness and dwell inside our little spheres of influence, neglecting all outside yearnings? At the end of the day, can we truly say that we lived fulfilling lives?
Without happiness and change, we can never truly say that our lives were lived to their fullest and that we accomplished all that we came here to do. All too often, we lock ourselves away from the world and spend each moment of our fleeting lives in sameness. This is extremely dangerous to our mental states, for depression often has a remarkable way of settling in when we waste our time following routine.
When I was eleven years old, I opened my latop and looked up the symptoms of depression. Convinced that I had this mental illness, I spent days upon days browsing the web and educating myself on my current state and on potential treatments. I brought this information to my mother, who scoffed and disregarded it. My daughter, affected by depression at such a young age? Impossible, she may have thought. A month later, I dropped my case – never seeking treatment, medication, or a second-opinion. Three years later, I developed a serious Eating Disorder. Four years later, I was hit with such a serious depression that it not only caused me to lock myself away from the world, but also intensified my Eating Disorders and drove me to the near-point of death.
I knew a lot at eleven years old – a lot more than I knew at 14, 15, and 16, when my life became a nest of deadly Mental Illnesses. Although I will never know if I truly had depression at that young age, I can candidly testify that I would not have been surprised if I did. From the age of eight to the age of thirteen, my life was a habitual cycle of eat, school, swim, sleep. Every day, after school, my grandfather would drive my friend and I to swim practices, where we would spend an hour and a half to two hours working out. After each practice, I would rush home to get my homework done, evidently procrastinating until bedtime, when I would hurriedly pencil in some problems and retire to sleep. Every Saturday, my mother would drive my sister and me to my math tutor, where we would spend entire mornings working on math problems and getting ahead of the school curriculum. Every summer for the last decade, my family and I would drive up to the Poconos, where I would continue swimming, both day and night, and where I was confined to the gates of our Hemlock Farms Community, with the closest form of childhood attraction being a vast 40 miles away. Indeed, there were times when we made trips to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or traveled up to Canada to see relatives; however, these trips were so infinitesimal compared to those that became routine: if you ask me to recall a memory from the singles, I would not be able to do so.
By no means am I confessing that I had an unhappy childhood or that my family buried the possibility of expanding our horizons. Although we were not copiously affluent or influential in the public eye, my family – specifically my parents – gave me all that I needed, or, to be more honest, all that I wanted. They were not selfish or arrogant or condemning to my wishes and dreams. Indeed, they pushed me – sometimes a bit too hard -, but they did so out of love and out of wanting to see me succeed.
Could I, thus, register culpability on my mother and father if they truly did so much good? The possibility is there.
I am neither a doctor nor a therapist but perhaps my eleven-year-old depression emerged from a cycle of sameness. Perhaps my subconscious mind was begging me to explore the world and see all of the wonders life had to offer, but my age restricted me from acting on these instincts. My parents, well, they did not act on them either.
I believe that if humans find ways to break the cycle of sameness and explore the realm of change, they will live not only happier lives, but also mentally healthy lives. If you can pick a date and time, ideally every weekend but plausibly once a month, when you and your family can take a trip – be it to a nearby beach or to a faraway state -, act on that schedule, not on the routine schedule imprinted in your mind. Work can wait. School can wait. Even responsibilities can wait. Mental Health, happiness, and a fulfilling life, however, are fickle and will not wait for you to act on them. Before you know it, sameness destroys happiness, routine destroys Mental Health, and isolation destroys a fulfilling life.
So, next time you are given the chance to travel, explore yourself and the world around you, or simply change something conventional about yourself, take that chance. Act on that opportunity, for it may be the last piece to your puzzle of happiness. Your life is in your hands. Choose to live it boldly!