I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
I want to find true happiness in life, but what is true happiness?
For me, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the combination of 2 things:
The Personal Life
The Meaningful Life
First off, we have the personal life. This is you and your family, friends, loved ones, romantic interests, and so on. It’s the social connections that keep us as humans from losing our fucking minds. Think this isn’t true?
Well, here’s some news articles for you on the topic:
I learned that social isolation destroys you the hard way… I was socially isolated.
Growing up gay in Ohio, with parents who were homophobic (and trust me, I love my parents, I understand they were just a product of their time. I hold no resentment towards them). Anyways, with everyone avoiding you like some kind of untouchable, and then not even being able to tell your own family about how wrong everything is, you go a little insane.
You go inwards. You start to live in your own world because the one around you doesn’t want you in it. For me, I had a savior. I had what I thought would fix everything. I had the dream of…
I told myself that LA would change everything. There, I’d find where I belonged. The people in California would be different. They would love me. And I’d go into the film industry because what’s more accepting of differences than Hollywood? (Rimshot please!)
But again, I was alone. I had nobody to tell me otherwise. I had nobody to guide me. I had nobody to make see how shallow and horrible LA is, especially for someone as socially retarded as me.
So, from the very first day I arrived in LA after high school, everything collapsed. I didn’t know how to connect with anyone. I had never drank, or smoked, or been to a party, or a concert, or stayed over at a friends house, or anything.
I’d try to connect and make friends, and it would instantly fall apart. Actually, it wouldn’t fall apart because it never got to the point where there was anything to fall apart. People just looked at me like I was this strange mutant from bumfuck nowhere…which, let’s be honest, I kind of was, and then they’d keep walking, making sure to keep their distance.
And thus, depression and anxiety crept into my life. My dream. My salvation. The cure-all that I always thought LA would be for my life…wasn’t. My only bit of hope was crushed and gone, and there was no longer anything to hold me together.
I remember Bruce Vilanch once said something like, “Ah yes! LA, where the palm trees are filled with crows.”
Well, I had started to see the crows.
But on the flip side, focusing simply on your social life also kills you. I learned this in Melbourne.
I somehow managed to finish college in LA. And sure, there was that whole part where I dropped out because I lost my mind and wound up on the streets having sex for rent money, and there was that last year in LA where the depression was so bad that I’d collapse everywhere I went, but ya know, how time flies….
And so, I found myself with a Work and Holiday visa in Melbourne, Australia. SURELY GOOD PEOPLE EXISTED DOWN UNDER RIGHT?
I went to Melbourne with one goal: It was time for me to be the dumb kid I wasn’t able to be in high school. My goals were to make good friends, fuck hot Aussie boys, get a boyfriend, and live it up!
And soon after I arrived I did find a friend group, and got a job at LUSH. But nothing seemed to get better… I was going out to bars with my friends (even though I don’t drink). I was going to food festivals with them. I was going to comedy shows. More bars. Clubs… bars… and more clubs and bars… OMG normal humans are so obsessed with bars and clubs, what the fuck is with that?????
And I just found myself bored. They would talk about their day, and the friends they knew, and gossip about others, and share memories of their past, and I would sit there, staring off into space, realizing something was wrong; I NEEDED A PURPOSE. I would go to work at LUSH, and be bored, because it’s retail and retail isn’t mentally stimulating. Then, I’d go to some bar and listen to these shallow people talk about shallow things, and I’d still be bored…even though I thought I had what I wanted.
I WAS SITTING WITH A GROUP OF FRIENDS!!!! It was everything I would have dreamed to have when I was 15. But now that I had it, I realized life isn’t just about sitting in a bar with friends. If that was enough for me then I should have just stayed in Ohio like everyone else… But life needs to have meaning. I wanted a career. Something I could be furiously happy about. Something I could invest myself in that would change the damn world! I didn’t care that Leon got a hot girl’s number, or that his ex-girlfriend wanted to get back with him, or about how excited he was to try shrooms for the first time. I wanted to bash my head into the wall.
So, despite my naive intentions, Melbourne was a bust. (Oh, and also, I go so miserable and destitute that my depression and anxiety burst into agoraphobia… what fun…)
And, just to really make sure that I knew what I was talking about, I made the mistake again! I went home broke, because I lost all my money paying for therapy, had to get a job in retail in my hometown to re-save up money, then I ran away again to Auckland…JUST TO WORK IN RETAIL! What the fuck was I thinking??????
And so that was two more wasted years of my life….
But Auckland is where the change happened. I was in therapy one day, and I was just like, “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!!! WHAT AM I DOING?” I had a midlife crisis at the age of 25. I was like, “HOLY FUCKBALLS! IM GOING TO BE STUCK IN THIS CYCLE FOREVER UNLESS I CHANGE IT RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!!!!”
And thus, the plan was formed. I decided to apply for grad school. There, I could gain more experience, find mentors, meet other determined people, and reboot my life.
And that’s when I got into a program at Harvard, and the rest is history… Now, I’m getting ready to make the move to New York City with a great job offer that I’m so excited and proud to have.
And that’s why I think that life needs both. You need your social half, but you also need your meaningful half. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, finding both. And lord knows I’ve fallen off that rope many a time… But, I think for lasting joy, and true fulfillment, that’s how it’s done.
Keep up the dream!
~ The Dark Horse