Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Two Paths to Happiness And The One I Took

We portray ourselves differently in public than in private because it is a necessity. We have to conform, to some extent, to society because then we become a part of it and we feel accepted. That's a really good feeling: when other people give you their attention because you are relatable to them in some way. It's actually one of two path's towards happiness. The other being happy with one's self.

You are happy by yourself if you listen to the music that YOU like, and you laugh at the racist jokes that YOU feel are not crossing the line, and you watch the YouTube videos that YOU want to watch, and you do the solitary hobbies in the time and manner that YOU want to. 

This can last for a while, but then you get lonely. You start to wonder what your friends are doing. To quote Soko: 

Long time no see. 
Long time wondering 
What you were doing 
Who you were seeing

You grow restless because you need someone to talk to. It is an aspect of human nature to be social. It's what allowed us to evolve as a species, but for the individual it can be either a quality or a deficiency, depending on how you look at it.

So there exists this balance between pleasing yourself and pleasing those around you to get them to accept you which pleases you. As you can see, the first route is shorter but much more difficult and lonely.

Personally, I have been able to trod the first path basically my entire life. Thanks to my wonderfully supportive parents, bless their hearts, I was able to always go back to their support instead of trying to conform to my friends who had quite different world views than I did. I spent a majority of my childhood *alone* (meaning with family or really just by myself.)

One one hand, that solitude allowed me to explore myself. I experimented with hobbies. I tried different books, then I realized I didn't like books too much in general and moved on to YouTube videos. For school projects, when we had to work in groups, I was naturally demanding and instructive since I was used to doing things the way that I had done them. This of course resulted in me being a director and the other kids being puppets, but since I did most of the work, I felt it was justified. I was bossy, but the group's project (usually a video since I like making videos (something I learned while exploring myself(and yes I did put parenthesis inside of parenthesis inside of parenthesis which shows you how much I do things my own way))) was unique and stood out from the usual sample of other projects.

I could not, however, laugh by myself. I can't just start laughing when I'm watching a video or doing something by myself. So I was tempted to join niches and communities by seeing other kids laughing together. That didn't always go well. We connected during school, and I was invited to birthdays, but I was rarely invited on non-birthday occasions outside of school. Even after I moved from Louisiana to Texas, this trend continued.

Well, to be fair, Texas was a lot friendlier. I found people who were just as quirky and weird as I was, so it was much easier to find people to connect with where I didn't have to conform much. High school was even better since that was when I joined extra-curricular activities. Those experiences bonded me with people like nothing else. Regardless, the no-meeting-outside-of-school trend was not changing.

I had a lot of friends, but they were all in their separate groups. Nobody knew as many people as I did, but consequently, I was never part of a particular group of closely knit friends. I don't know if this was a natural process or if I did this to myself, but either way, the void between me and these groups seemed to be growing wider. Now I wonder if I've dug myself into a hole that is too deep for my to climb out of. But that doesn't mean I won't try.

I've lived my whole live trotting that first path. Now, I am going to try the second path. I'm going to download every social media app I hear. I'm going to join every WhatsApp group and add everyone on Snapchat. I'll try this out and let you know how it goes. Whether the first path or the second is more successful in achieving happiness.

P.S. Since sophomore year, though, this has been turning around. Some things in these past 18 months have been.................unique.................and they have made me really happy. But it's too soon to tell you. =)

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