Starting my own business has been a surreal finish to a years long journey toward happiness. It started after I graduated from UT in 2014 and got an unbelievably coveted internship at Southwest Airlines.
Working on their corporate communications team, I got kudos and gained experience working for executives whose names casually dotted Forbes on the regular. There were events, there was a steady paycheck. I made friends. People called me a cruise director because I organized happy hours and events for the other communication interns. And still I was miserable.
So I left the big company and went to a small one. I loved my boss. I was needed and important enough to merit three raises and promotions inside of a year. The paycheck was growing and I actually loved working hard. But still I was miserable.
Being an adult meant I had to push through though. When I stopped being able to get out of bed, when I started eating my way through bouts of unbelievable sadness, when I felt suicidal for the first time in years, I told myself: you SHOULD be able to do this. Other people your age would kill for what you have. Push through.
And then I ended up on disability, in an outpatient group for extreme depression and my whole life fell apart around me. I was in the middle of paying for a wedding and I was the sole income for Zach and myself. I had to destroy my credit just to keep food in the fridge ( and yes that credit journey has made it super hard to start a business ).
Would admitting my unhappiness been easier than beating myself into the person that could love that life? Yes. But at the time I thought the fact that I was unhappy meant there was fundamentally something wrong with me. Because I was living the “ideal life” of a successful corporate job at 22, getting married to my college sweetheart and achieving some financial stability, I thought there was no way I could be unhappy. I felt like there was something broken inside of me that meant I would never be happy. A little of, “well if this isn’t enough, then nothing ever will be.”
Coming up on four years from that time of my life, I understand now that the only thing that was broken was the way I saw myself. I refused to validate my experience and instead wrote my own emotions off. I took sadness and called it laziness. I took the fact that a set schedule is hard on someone with chronic illness and called it ingratitude. I took my real, very honest needs in the workplace and called them a problem.
Now, I’ve built a live around those very real needs and I see now that my soul was begging me to see myself clearly and love myself well. I love working hard, but I rarely know for sure what kind of day I’ll have health wise, so I need flexibility in my schedule. I need complicated projects that teach me new things every day. I need external feedback. I need to know that the work I’m doing means something. None of these are flaws – they’re just very real reasons why that life didn’t work for me.
If you need to hear it today: you’re not broken. You’re just unhappy. And unhappy usual means forcing yourself into someone else’s idea of your perfect life. Whether it’s your parents, your bosses, your friends or just that voice inside of you – ignore the person or people telling you that you “should” be happy. If you aren’t, that’s real and deserves to be looked at. Read some of my posts on starting over and understand that it’s tough but it’s possible. You are capable of feeling something better and of loving the life you’re living.