The Search Is Over. By Sarah Ellis.
Oh lookin’ out at this happiness,
I search for between the sheets.
Oh feelin’ blind and realize,
All I was searchin’ for was me.
Ooh all I was searchin’ for was me.
–Ben Howard “Keep Your Head Up”
I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness recently. What makes me happy? Who makes me happy? Where am I happy? Why do I let people make me unhappy? I used to think that life was all about growing up and living happily ever after. I could blame it on the hundreds of Disney movies I’ve seen in my twenty-seven years but I’m not a big fan of the blame game.
I moved out of my parent’s house for the first time in October of last year. Ok, it’s really the second time but the first time was so brief, I don’t think it really counts. So, at twenty-six years old, I decided to see what I could do on my own. I had been plagued with thoughts of I don’t make enough money, I’ll starve, I’ll sit in an apartment with no lights and no water, I can’t do this on my own for long enough. I didn’t tell my parents anything until a few days before I was ready to move out with my deposit paid and no turning back.
I’ve told myself stories since I was a little girl, I would make up a story about how awesome life would be when I ______. And then I would fill in the blank with all sorts of things like move out, get married, finish college, become a published author, become a neurosurgeon, become an Olympic gymnast, join the circus, have children, don’t have children, have a boyfriend, have sex, travel the world. Yeah, you see, when I moved out I was armed with all of these amazing stories I had told myself but never experienced. Maybe I experienced some of them a little, but not on the level I wanted for my life. I wanted fireworks, theme music, and the happily ever after.
So, I went in search for happiness like it was a hidden treasure or some elusive creature that could only be found if you stood on one foot and hopped around in circles. I looked everywhere. I would catch glimpses of it in the smile of a stranger, a warm hand to hold on a first date, the laughter of my friends, the smell of my dog’s neck, and the phrases in a good book. This list could go on forever because I caught a lot of glimpses. I would try to grab happiness with both fists closed tightly around whatever I believed would make me happy at the time. And let’s just say my dating life took an intense nose dive into crazy town. Every man was the one and I fell for each one I met without checking to see if they really were the lid that fit my pot. I fell hard time and time again. I was left picking myself up and putting the pieces back together with super glue and duct tape and silently wondering what I was doing wrong.
Moving out was harder than I thought it would be. All of the sudden, I was requiring more of myself than ever before. I had to shop for all of my food, take my own trash out, and sit with just myself and my thoughts. I’ll let you guess what the hardest thing was. No, no, it wasn’t taking out the trash although that is still one of my least favorite things to do. It was learning to sit with just myself and how to pick out which were my thoughts and which were the opinions of others crowding my brain. It wasn’t easy then and some days, it’s still not easy now. I was so content to live in my head for so long that I struggle with being present. But the mornings keep rising, the nights keep falling and with every passing moment I find myself waking up a little bit more.
I feel like these past nine months have been the shortest and longest of my life. I’ve grown in ways I never thought were possible. I’ve learned that happiness isn’t external but something I’ve had the whole time. Those glimpses I saw weren’t just in the people and experiences; they were the reflections of the happiness within my soul. I’ve learned to take care of myself. I didn’t once starve or forget to pay my utilities. I’ve learned that I’m more than my thoughts. I’ve learned that I’m unique and beautiful. I’ve learned that yoga is the best therapy for me. I’ve learned that being challenged is a wonderful thing. I’ve learned that no matter how many times I fall, I have the best person waiting to put me back together. The answer to all of my questions and the person I was searching for all along. I have me.