The Happiness Fairy

I was talking to a friend the other day about how our society tends to define how we’re supposed to view relationships. It’s funny that we grow up with a concept of belonging.

Ever since I was a child, hell even back to first grade, it was engrained in our heads that to be attached is the ideal. If you didn’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend you were a loser, a loner, and unlovable. I watched all of my friends hook up in grade school. It was a BIG deal to have a steady boyfriend/girlfriend. It was serious.

That’s the way it looked from the way our culture sets it up. It was all set in bold even more by the fact that break-ups were huge! There they were, these kids, not even twelve years old feeling as if they had failed at life because they couldn’t make a relationship last more than six months. All that mattered was that you belonged to someone.

I had a unique perspective obviously because I never hooked up with anyone. I was able to observe from the outside. I asked my dad a lot why I didn’t have a boyfriend. He would say that it would happen when it happens like it was going to be some cosmic magical force that was destined in life. Looking back, I find it rather absurd and amusing. I guess he certainly couldn’t have just said, “you don’t fit the standard mold of what people are looking for.” That would have been too cruel so I thank him for that.

In retrospect, I’m very glad I never had to ride the crazy rollercoaster of relationship issues my peers went through. At a certain point in high school, I decided I didn’t really need boys (or girls) to feel whole. My girlfriends would spend so much time obsessing and lamenting and constantly saying, “I need a man! I need a man! I want a man!” 

My mantra back to them is, “You don’t need a man.” But the truth was that they didn’t just want a man. They were longing to feel whole. For most of the people around me, all I hear is how life isn’t complete without a dedicated companion. So you can imagine how disappointed people spend their whole lives based on this concept?!

I wonder why in our culture we aren’t taught to think we are enough and it’s simply the sharing and growth we gain from other people that makes the human connection so powerful and beautiful. It’s just such an unhealthy perception that we need someone else to make ourselves happy, to be complete.

It feels great no doubt, to let yourself fall…To allow those social constructs of happiness seem to check themselves off the list. Even the most cynical of people want to fall in love, get married, and share a lasting, passionate, comfortable life together. The sad truth though is that no one can “make” you happy except you and that’s a scary fact to be confronted with. It’s way easier to put your life’s happiness in the hands of an external force.

Of course after all my stupid psychoanalyzing and coming to terms with this, I have not yet come to any solution as to become my own source of happiness. I guess just like everyone else, I’m hoping it’s as simple the happiness fairy coming by and sprinkling me with happy dust. [insert pharmaceutical joke here]. And this where I loop back around to my default defense mechanism: Isn’t happiness over-rated? If we chase happiness, won’t we always feel unhappy?

4 comments:

Iceflow said...

I (unfortunately) fell into the camp of wanting to feel whole when I was younger. From the time I was 13, I can't remember a time I didn't have a boyfriend. Now that I'm older, I know that I liked to have someone like me because that means I was likable and that I was worth somebody.

Luckily i realized that I needed to be me and not fit the mold that people wanted me to be. I finally grew up.

tfangel said...

I must have been a late bloomer, or the fact that me and all my friends were D&D geeks in a small town in the 80s, but i didn't get a girlfriend until i was 18. I saw what my older brother and sister went through, good and bad.

I've been seeing more of the "you need marriage and many children" to be happy thing lately, may just be that i'm older now. Not a "grown up" until you have them or are actively working to get them, not just from family but from strangers, movies and tv shows.

I think about having someone in my life, but not because people tell me i should, i just find a lot of things more fun when i have someone to share things with. I've also gotten more picky, or something, as that person should be my equal and compliment me more than fill what's missing.

I also think it's less important to be "happy" than to not be "unhappy", if that makes sense. As someone who fights pretty serious depression and has seen friends commit suicide, it's better to not reach for the mythical happiness, and try to not be sad or miserable.

Long reply made short: Life's too short, do what you enjoy doing, as long as it doesn't harm others.

said...

I wish I never had young-love experiences... they never leave you (or at least it never left me.)

I've also known people who set too high a standard for their mate. Inevitably they feel unhappy about their relationships because their standard isn't met.

But my grama spent 25 years being single. In her 60's she remarried a long time friend who was also a divorcee. The family wasn't so sure about this union. But in her words, "life gets lonely."

I think you're right - it is about the friendships around you. My husband was one of my best friends when we married... the love and intimacy came afterward (we married on a whim). But I think the love that makes you feel whole comes after the friendship. You can't really have love before a friendship, a REAL and DEEP friendship - otherwise it's just lust and an unhealthy attachment. I've been there, done that... it was painful.

Alex said...

It's most definitely not unhealthy to see that we need other people to be happy.  What's unhealthy is thinking that you can satisfy all of your needs alone.  This breeds an independent individualistic mentality.  It sets you apart from society.  Society is built on cooperation and thinking you don't need anyone else limits you.  It removes you from society.  You become a user of society's tools, like having a career, but you don't make full use of these tools, and you definitely don't give back.  Independence is a bad thing for society, and in your relationships.  Society is built on interdependence, and that is precisely what you need in your relationships, especially the number one relationship you have, the one you have with your mate.

No one can make you happy. Not even you. Happiness is an emotion. It is an effect. You can't "decide" to be happy. A lot of people, including you, can set up the situations... the dominos that can lead to you feeling happy. Line yourself up to have a satisfying life. Put yourself into situations where you meet a lot of people and get a lot of opportunities. Accept help from your friends and family who want to see you happy. They might introduce you to someone. All of these things are dominos that line up towards happiness. Then the dominos fall, with or without your "permission" and they result in happiness. Of course many dominos will line up towards unhappiness too, so it's important to line your dominos up correctly so you get happiness.