“I am not particularly unhappy. So ..”
“Are you happy?”
My friend asked me this question when we were on the way to the dinner a few months ago. I said, “Yes”.
He seemed surprised because of my immediate response. And I continued
“I am not particularly unhappy. So ..”
That moment recently came back to my mind. I could even hear his voice asking me that question inside my head. I hadn’t given any serious thought to it before. That is actually a very big and broad question. So, what is happiness? Does happiness really mean not being unhappy? Am I really happy? Am I qualified to say that I am happy with my life? The more I ask myself all these questions, the more I feel unsettled.
It is not like I am living a life of luxury. I have a stable income. I can look after my family and don’t need to worry about my bills. That’s pretty much it. There were neither great achievements that I can be proud of nor fiascos that I can never recover from in life. Such a mediocre life if you will. Lacking ups and downs along the way gradually led me to a point where I am not able to comprehend the essence of life. I could no longer find the excitements that I used to have when I was a teenager. I am feeling emotionally numb. What happened to me? There is no plausible explanation I could think of.
Generally speaking, as we grew up, we have a lot of things to deal with — family, responsibility, relationship, stress, peer pressure, personal issues and so on. Besides, things don’t always go the way we want them to. Some people take it pretty well. But some takes it badly. People also come and go in our life. Losing loved ones makes us to endure emotional pain which is unbearable. We inevitably get to encounter the unexpected turn of events like COVID. Who knew that people from most of the countries in the world would be stuck at home for months because of the pandemic? We hear and see tons of unpleasant news through the different source of news day-to-day. We all are unprecedentedly connected. Yet we feel lonely. Because we take it for granted just to blame each other who doesn’t even meet in person for no reason. After going through these kind of shit for a certain amount of time in life, I guess people, including me, are getting less happy.
The future is uncertain. We don’t exactly know what is next. It is quite horrifying just to think about it. There are a lot of motivational quotes out there encouraging us to embrace uncertainty. It is not that easy as it sounds. I used to plan way ahead of time before. Most didn’t work out as expected due to the unknown factors that I didn’t take account into. Then, I realized that if life is an equation, apart from me, the rest is the variables. Not only the people who involve in it but things that we can’t control like political changes, pandemic, recession, etc. That’s why the longer you plan ahead, the more it is likely to fail. So, I started setting a series of small goals instead. It is easy to achieve. The success rate is higher than the long-term goal. However, I feel like I don’t accomplish anything for some reason. I accept the fact that the accumulated result of small things has big impact. It is just that I personally feel the lack of emotional fulfillment on them.
It never occurs to me that distance plays a huge part in our life. Being away from your family and friends means you are not part of their daily life and so aren’t they. Living in different environments and society makes us apart slowly. It is quite subtle at first. As time goes by, you start feeling the difference. Because we are experiencing different things with different people in different places. In that situation, what are the odds of getting the same level of attention from each other as being together before? Chances are pretty slim. No wonder most long-distance relationships don’t work out. That’s nobody’s fault but how it works. Having said that, it doesn’t mean I am feeling homesick and being left out of my social circle. I am still in touch with almost everyone back home. I am really appreciate for that and grateful to have them.
Sometimes, when I contemplate the things happening around me, I just feel uneasy. I believe that’s what we all go through at some point in life. Perhaps, it might just be temporary, so I can get over it after a while. Probably, this is one of the side effects of having alone time too much at home due to the pandemic. Finger crossed. One thing for sure is that getting to know and understand more things, be them good or bad, throughout our life impacts our emotional responses. Before anything, it starts questioning why we should feel happy or sad like “Is it really good enough to be happy? What are you, a kid?”. It isn’t a bad thing. It protects us from doing the stupid things. But it apparently weighs us down in some ways. Is that what we called “Maturity” or “Being a grown-up”?
If my friend or somebody happens to ask me this question again, I don’t think I can respond immediately like before. But still, I don’t really have a correct answer to that either. One day, hopefully, I may be able to answer how exactly I am feeling. Who knows?