I promise you there’s a logical explanation for why I’ve gone missing for three months. It’s not a super cool reason like “I decided to take a spontaneous vacation to Vancouver and hiked up the Rocky Mountains” or “I bought a 1972 Volkswagen Bus Vanagon and went on a road trip to California” or even “I’ve been learning how to play guitar and my fingers are too bruised to type.” No, the reason for my absence isn’t nearly as fantastic as any of those, but it’s a reason that I’m proud of.
A month ago, I decided I was tired of being unhappy. I had been stuck in this life where I was working a job I hated, drove a car that broke down on the side of the highway, twice. I had isolated myself from the friends that I loved so I could be with people that I didn’t love, I said no to concerts, drive-ins, shopping trips, day trips and salty foods to save money that I didn’t even have but worst of all, I had realized I was pleasing everybody else while I was letting myself down.
I had contemplating changing some things in my life for a long time but was always so afraid of what people would think. What would my family think if I quit my job? Sold my car? Moved to London (Ontario…not England. Although I wouldn’t pass up London England if the opportunity came)? Booked a trip to Mexico? Enrolled in University for English? Cut my hair and died it a colour that isn’t naturally mine? I had thought and thought and thought but wouldn’t make a move to change anything because I was so afraid of what people would say. If it wasn’t for a Saturday night last month where I found myself parked in a Walmart parking lot in my moms minivan wearing a hoodie that was 3 sizes too big, eating my weight in Greek yogurt, I probably wouldn’t have changed anything. “Why am I not going out? Why am I not learning something new? Why do I stay inside my bubble of comfort? Why am I wearing a sweater that’s way too big for me? What’s in my pocket? Oh, it’s a coupon for Bath and Body Works.” If it wasn’t for those thoughts, I wouldn’t have changed a thing or have my new ocean scented candle.
After that night, I quit my job, I put my car up for sale, I said goodbye to some people that I loved very much, I signed up for counselling, took a pottery class, took a painting class, took a writing class, went to a swimming lesson, learned how to roller-skate (I still fell twice. My tailbone is killing me), started looking for a new car, got my nails done (this may not seem like a big deal but I wasn’t allowed to paint my nails for FOUR YEARS because of my old job. Painting my nails was the most liberating activity I had done for a long time and I will not feel shame for this), made a new friend, contacted an old friend, learned how to change a tire and made the best pancakes you could ever imagine tasting.
These things may seem like small victories and you would be right in thinking that. They are small victories, but they’re MY small victories. I did these things. I decided to do them and so I did. I stopped letting my family and my friends and sometimes even strangers make my decisions for me. I wanted to do these things, so I did them and I haven’t felt this happy in a long time.
I had been told that I was being selfish by doing these things. I was selfish for quitting my job. I was selfish for saying goodbye to some people who had been there for me during my worst times. It was selfish to move so far from home. It’s selfish to leave the church, to stop volunteering, to not want to get married by 22, to not want kids by 25, to not want kids at all, to stop caring what people think. You’re selfish, Danielle. These were the thoughts that had stopped me from changing anything. I didn’t want people to think I was selfish and that I didn’t care anymore. It took me a long time to realize that this thought was the least selfish thought I could have. I had stopped doing the things I wanted to do because everybody else needed me to do something or be something else. Everybody had something to say about my life and what I was doing with it, except for me.
I never understood the feeling of being content with yourself. To be truly happy where you are and with what you’re doing and the decisions you’re making but I understand now. I am content. I love where I am.
Do something this week that you’ve always wanted to do, you were just too scared or too broke or too tall or too fat or too whatever to do it. Stop telling yourself that you can’t or you won’t…unless you’ve always wanted to like rob a bank or know how it feels to die or take candy from a baby. I don’t condone that you do those things.
I have never been happier and there’s nothing selfish about being happy… or having pink finger nails…or buying an ocean scented candle that makes your bedroom smell like a beach.