Keep Moving Forward
About a month ago, a good friend of mine reached out to me for advice. She asked me, “How did you find time for yourself and make sure you were still happy, while being so busy?” Throughout college, I was involved in the President’s Leadership Program, the Honors Program, the Dean’s Advisory Council, Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society, Startup Pueblo, Enactus, Rotaract Club of Pueblo, the Healy Center, the Alternative Spring Break Program, Student Government, and El Pomar Foundation’s Student Leadership Experience Program. I did most of that at the same time, in addition to working as a referee/supervisor for the Intramural Sports Program, being a full-time college student, and trying to fit in some sort of a social life. “Busy” was an understatement, and finding happiness was often times a challenge.
My answer to my friend’s question was “Well, honestly I wasn’t always happy.” The feeling of being burnt out was constantly with me throughout my four years of college. I loved my job, but many days I struggled to make it there. I was paying thousands of dollars for school, but my motivation to sit through class was shot after freshman year. I think there’s a misconception in our world that we always need to be happy; to reach the pinnacle of life is to be happy all the time. The truth is, it’s okay to be unhappy. I honestly believe being unhappy is a necessity of life. You’re not always going to have the ideal job; school isn’t always a walk in the park; and life is unpredictable. Happiness today can be gone tomorrow.
I dealt with this, not by trying to eliminate unhappiness, but by finding value in it. I learned to keep moving forward. No matter how bad things are now, it always gets better. Each struggle I overcame, I was stronger because of it.
I think social media tremendously adds to the misconception that we always need to be happy. Personally, I’ve found that scrolling through social media while unhappy, only magnifies my unhappiness. You may ask, why? Social media is not an accurate representation of someone’s life. How often do you scroll through your Instagram feed and see a picture of someone crying? The only side we see is what someone considers to be their best moments. Our feeds are flooded with smiling faces. It’s easy to look at those pictures and compare your life to theirs. “Why are they all happy and I’m not?” I would ask myself. My advice is, if you’re unhappy, stay off of social media. Focus on yourself and deal with the problem at hand.
The other important piece here is time. If you’re involved like I was in college, free time was hard to come by. But even though I was busy, I was very strict with the free time I did have. With that free time, I did something that I think is very powerful: I only spent my time with things that guaranteed me happiness. For me, those things were family, friends, and books.
Family has always been my escape. If I ever needed time away from everything else, my family has always been there for me to turn to. I also built a core group of friends who add happiness to my life. No drama, no stress; they only empower me, and I’m lucky because I’ve found those people are rare in this world. Books are special to me because even in the lowest points of my life, books have never failed in pulling me back up. I don’t mean just any book; some books are meant to be only entertainment. I don’t read those books. The books I read are inspirational, educational, and thought-provoking. I read to make myself better. Books like The Alchemist, Think and Grow Rich, As a Man Thinketh, and Awaken the Giant Within. It’s an obsession, and in my moments of unhappiness, my bookshelf is the first place I go to.
Remember, it’s okay to be unhappy at times. Everyone else is too. The key is to use it to your advantage and grow.