How I Chose Happiness Over Expectation

As I’m writing this I’m getting ready to go on my next epic adventure to Southeast Asia for 3 weeks and I’m also thinking to myself how ridiculous the title of this is…this shouldn’t  even have to be a choice and why isn’t happiness the answer always?!
I know depending on where you live or how you were raised, the expectations set forth for you once upon a time we’re probably different from the ones that I had, but at the end of the day we all have them. Expectations are not a bad thing but I now prefer to call them goals and I plan to integrate them with my lifelong happiness.
I grew up in a well to do family in a small suburb of Orange County, CA.  It was an absolute bubble and I know those who grew up around me had very similar experiences. My parents to this day want me to be happy no matter what, but it doesn’t mean they didn’t encourage me to go down a lot of other paths.  Bad grades were never an option, lazy was not a thing- from when I can remember I’ve always been doing things to put myself in a favorable position with school, sports, friends, family, college, work and a career.  I’m so thankful for this and wouldn’t change my experience for anything because I know it was ultimately my path and the choices I’ve made have been because it’s what I truly want and what I choose, not what my last resort or only option was.  I know I can be whatever I want and I know I have the values instilled in me to achieve big things.  Where I’ve been wrong for so long is that achieving big things doesn’t always equal being a Fortune 500 CEO or making a ton of money or getting promoted year after year.  Achieving big things to me now means waking up more days than not happy with my life, who I am, what I’m doing and those I have around me.
So, how did I get to this point and moment- well it took doing many of the things I just said don’t equal happiness to realize I wasn’t fufilled.  After graduating on the fast track in 3 years from college, I eventually got a job in account management with an insurance broker.  I was making $38,000, working my tush off and I had the goal of eventually working my way into sales since that’s where the money and fun was.  I was immediately miserable and kept trying to tell myself it would get better as time passed. Thankfully I met some amazing friends and people at this job, but when I still hated every single minute of being there even with awesome people, I realized I needed a change.  Because of the way I was raised, needing a change meant I needed A. To find a new and better job or B. Get that promotion into sales.  It was becoming humorous how many failures I had in both of those things or how not right everything felt while trying to work towards both of those things.  I couldn’t get a break and was depressed and didn’t know how this could be so many people’s daily lives.  I sat tight for a while constantly thinking of how to better my situation, even doodling at my desk daily about the things I was good at, things I was passionate about, and how I could make a change based on that.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Fast forward a few months and I took a trip to Costa Rica in June of 2016 and had taken some time unpaid just so I could have some peace and no work for 10 days as well as celebrate my boyfriends birthday.  As I was packing for this trip, I found a book my mom had bought for me when I graduated college 2 years prior.  The book is called I Just Graduated … Now What? Honest Answers from Those Who Have Been There by Katherine Schwarzenegger.  It seemed like a fun and easy read and given the situation I was in with work and life, I thought it definitely couldn’t hurt to read.  As I began reading this book on my 6 hour flight into Liberia, Costa Rica my world was rocked.  I took away 3 very important messages-
     1. Nobody has it figured out when they’re 23 and a lot of these famous and successful people I was reading about a lot of times were well into their 30s before making it big
     2. A lot of these amazing people had quite a few no’s and big failures that pushed and led them to their successes eventually
     3. Neve give up on your happiness and dreams.
I don’t know why it took reading a book to believe 100% in all these things, but for me it sealed the deal and gave me the confidence to change course in my life and start living for me and my happiness!
As soon as I got back from Costa Rica, I applied to school for my masters in fashion and applied as a server where I work currently.  As soon as I got into school and was hired at my job, I put my 2 weeks in and that was that.  In such a short time and so effortlessly and seamlessly I had a “new” life and pulled myself out of the depressive and down state I was in.  From there the rest is history- I am still working towards my masters… the funny thing is I’m not sure I’ll ever even use it, but, it did buy me some time and freedom to explore so many options, meet so many people and continue to grow and find my way. I am still working as a server and every chance I get I’m taking a trip somewhere and planning my next few.  At this moment I am living in such a happy place and that is because what I do and how I do it is for me. I know my story may not be the answer for everyone but I do hope it encourages you to make a change if you’re in a rut.  There are so many expectations set forth for us in society and to go against the norm and be unconventional is so scary… and leaves a road ahead that is unplanned with a covered and unclear path.  That path though, can be so beautiful and lead to so much happiness.
Final thought: DO YOU!  Let the expectations go and set goals that will put you first in a place of happiness. PURA VIDA.
“Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of strength.  However, there are times in life in which it takes much more strength to just let go.” – Pinterest
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