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"Life is hard."
My boyfriend told me this again after I lunged into yet another hell-bent venting session about not actively living the life of my dreams.
There's an Ecard from Someecards that I love, partly because of its snarkiness, but mostly because of its honesty. It features an adolescent boy, wearing a celebratory party hat and reads: "I miss being the age where I thought I would have my shit together by the time I was the age I am now."
The card summarizes my mental state at certain points throughout the year. As a millennial (let me finish before you jump down my throat, roll your eyes and call me things such as pompous or wishy-washy), I feel entitled to be happy. Entitled is defined as: "believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment."
Being entitled is usually associated with privilege, and I won't deny it, at times, I have felt entitled to things because of my privilege. But that's not the type of entitlement I'm referring to. I'm not talking about being pompous, or being partial to preferential treatment based upon my socioeconomic status, racial, ethnic, sexual or gender identity. I'm strictly talking about being entitled to happiness.
We are all entitled to be happy, and to control the circumstances in which we achieve our happiness. I believe that I inherently deserve happiness, and that I am special enough to be treated by others as if my happiness matters. This mantra has guided me throughout my life, and is probably the single greatest reason why I'm constantly shuffling between careers, cities, and hobbies.
If we do not believe we are entitled to be happy, then why the hell does any of this matter? Why are we going out of our way to find careers, make money, build retirement funds, find love, form friendships, try new things, explore our world or put ourselves in uncomfortable spaces, if not to figure out what makes us happy and to cultivate that happiness?
A good friend of mine hashtags all of her posts on Instagram and Facebook with #findingmyhappy. I think one of the most detrimental issues we face as a society is that we are constantly trying to one-up one another on social media, and other avenues, to display our happiness based on societal norms and benchmarks."I'm engaged, I'm so happy..." I'm having a baby...I'm so happy," "I got a new job, I'm so happy..."
Don't get me wrong, I am happy for you!
And yes, I understand there is no possible way to be happy 100 percent of the time, however, I am constantly asking myself, "How am I finding my happy?" Is it because of that new job, or because I feel passionate about its mission? Is it simply a new engagement, or the journey of what relationship woes teach us about understanding and sacrifice?
What I love about my friend's hashtag is the honesty it displays...she's searching for happiness, posting about it and isn't afraid to relish in the fact that she isn't happy 100 percent of the time, but she sure as hell is trying.
I had to ask myself after scrolling through several of her posts, am I brave enough to #findmyhappy? I believe we have an inherent fear to search for happiness because of the stark reality that despite our many blessings and achievements, we may realize our unhappiness comes from not feeling in control of the circumstances in which we are happy.
This comes from not having the resources, training, job market, economic steadiness, mentorship, or opportunities we need to be successful. Despite competing with my peers for what I do have, these circumstances, though relatively good, may not be exactly what I hoped they'd be at my age.
The reason millennials feel entitled isn't because we have greater opportunities to achieve higher education degrees, travel frequently, or were brought into an age where technology makes our lives seemingly easier.
It's because we understand that happiness is achievable. I don't know about you, but like my friend put it, I've hated the idea recently that there are generations of people who throw entitlement at millennials because we don't want to work 40 to 80 hours a week, be sad as hell, and simply be okay with it.
We don't want to just be satisfied with life, or merely content with our circumstances, or just okay with our daily mundane routine. We understand that being successful in the conventional sense of checking a box of goals won't completely satisfy our appetite for joy. We understand sacrifice differently than our parents, where sacrifice for us means probably giving up something seemingly awesome to the naked eye, to achieve what we define as joy.
We understand that to be happy means to search for it, deep in the trenches of our everyday joys and woes, and that it's hard to do. How many of us are saying to ourselves every single day, "If I just had the chance, I could be so much happier."
I don't know about you, but I do not want to settle until I can bravely say, "I'm finding my happy, have you found yours?"