I used to hate being called a “happy” person.
It felt icky. It felt dismissive. Like I was some rare breed of human without problems. Like I could get smacked by life over and over again and never fall to my knees.
Not that I wanted anyone to actually know the truth. Nope. I worked my ass off to keep people from seeing what I really felt like. When the going was good, sure, I was dancing about wearing a big ass smile, laughing and shining and living unbothered. But that wasn’t my normal.
My normal was depressive episodes. I just hid it well. When the going was tough, I mimicked my best self. I forced bass-thumping music in my ears, reminded myself to pull at the corners of my mouth when I made eye-contact, and pretended that nothing could touch me. My normal was fighting to be happy.
And I resented that many people couldn’t tell the difference.
No one asked if I was okay. No one pushed me to talk. And I learned to assume people didn’t care to hear it. Nobody wanted to see downer Bri. They liked fun Bri. Do more of that Bri.
So I did. And no one noticed, except when it got really bad. Except when I collapsed in on myself during phone calls, lunch dates, meetings…I would literally have to remove myself to hide the worst of oncoming panic attacks.
Then, I couldn’t deny to myself the real truth. I didn’t like who I was.
So, I decided to change things. I sent an email to a therapist I found on the web. I just liked her face. I downloaded a meditation app. I called someone I could trust, my mother, often, for reminders to breathe. I talked to myself. I took time off when the world was too much – told myself I just wasn’t going to make that meeting and it was OK. I took my therapist’s advice. I wrote out how I felt. I read a book she recommended and others. I learned my values. And I started to reframe my thoughts.
And then I felt like I had enough strength to take chances on myself. Chances that lead to a job I enjoy, my favorite vacation, and my first live show. And then…
More challenges hit. And I started to question myself again. I started to question if I was even meant to be happy.
It was like getting everything you wanted in life and realizing that you forgot to ask for the most important thing: the thing that would actually make you happy.
But this week, my coworker called me a happy person anyway. And I opened my mouth to argue and had nothing to say. Zip, zilch, zero. Nada but a smile.
I am a happy person. That is my natural state. I lean into sunlight and get nostalgic when the moon is full. I smile when I hear birds chirping in the morning. I hug my dogs every day hoping they’ll understand how much I love them. I watch movies about unicorns because who doesn’t love unicorns? And I beat myself up for being unhappy because it keeps me from spreading more joy.
But yes, I abso-freaking-lutely work at keeping being happy. I count my blessings, and I look at my tattoos of words like “faith” and “resilient” to remind myself what I already know: God’s plans are greater than my understanding. Life was never meant to be easy, but I have to believe it’s worth it.
When I remember that, it makes it easier for me to be the person I’m meant to be. Happy.