One of the fastest ways you can quench your own happiness is to allow time to pass on incongruence. I learned a long time ago that my capacity to enjoy a rich, rewarding life relies on my ability to align who I am with where I am and what I do. If you are unhappy with how your days are unfolding, there are only two things that can be changed: your insides or your outsides. The trick is knowing which one to deal with.
As the oldest of five in a volatile home, my childhood had taught me to make sure that everyone around me was ok first. This created three problems:
- I developed a perspective that put other people’s needs and wants ahead of my own, but
- My self-deprecating way of being was unsustainable and robbed me of the perspectives I needed to grow, so
- I was desperate to get out but didn’t know how to choose what I wanted
It was with this potentially crippling baggage that I moved out of home at seventeen years young, into two-bedroom flat in Wodonga with my best friend. Our place was small, and in desperate need of sunlight, but being in the heart of this bustling rural town, it let me roll out of bed and sprint to work five minutes before my shift at Coles began. The endless hours of work’s boredom were literally mind-numbing, and at times I had to choke back tears as I scanned groceries for people who thought only slightly less of me than I thought of myself. My friends did provide some reprieve, and I have fond memories of crowding around candlelit meals of pizza, hot chips and two minute noodles. I tried so hard to make those companions fill my gaping hole of emptiness, but I was like the people I am wary of today: I was a Holey Bucket, unable to be filled because other’s efforts just trickled out of my jarring cracks of incongruence.
Terror marked every night of the three hundred and sixty-five I spent in that flat. I know I am not the only person who has grown up in a large family only to inherit the fear of being alone, but this knowledge offered zero comfort. Every zooming car, shouting neighbour, and shuffling pedestrian caused a startle, as I tossed and turned my way through the dark hours. Every morning saw me facing another new day of hopeless, directionless, dead end. I was primed for the string of poor choices I would make … but I was armed with the tiny voice inside that told me to move into that flat in the first place. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I had to change my outsides.