When out with a friend, she messaged her sitter to check how her kids were. I joked that I was a terrible mum in that when I’m not on duty, I just trust my sitters to look after my son well and contact me if there are any issues. In a swing of the conversation that took things a little deeper than expected, she sighed “Yeah, but I don’t work. I stay at home with the kids. I don’t have anything else”. Now this isn’t entirely true; she has a good relationship with her husband and she has a solid group of friends. But by placing most of her focus and her happiness in her kids, she feels that it is a bit precarious. And I get that.
Not every sector of my life is great. Career and finances, on track. Kidlet, awesome – sickeningly blessed there. Friends, yes. Health, pretty good. Romance – insert angry buzzer sound here. An over-simplification, and not everyone’s sectors look the same, but four outta five ain’t bad.
Personal Photo – the sunset always makes me feel pretty happy
My life is pretty devoid of romantic love and while I wish it were different, I’m also not interested in playing the field with Tinder dates in the hope of finding Prince Charming. While I’m not hugely into all that fluffy woo-woo stuff, for every major change in my life, things have fallen into place because it was meant to happen that way. Forcing things has just been an exercise in frustration. If it’s going to happen, it will, at the right time. So I’ve accepted, to a certain extent, that that sector of my life is not going to make me happy, at least for now.
So that leaves me about 80% happy. Functionally happy. And I’m okay with that. While I have my blue days (like the day I had a migraine and had to go to work because I need the cash because I don’t have sick leave entitlement yet PLUS do all of the parenting myself because there’s no one else to do that and all of that served to show me how alone I am right now… not that I would expect a new partner to pick up the slack but it reminded me that I am the whole team right now), most of the time I’m mostly happy. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing to acknowledge that for a lot of us, that’s the truth we live in. Mostly happy and that’s okay.
You know what scares me? And I see it all too often – especially in my work with teenagers, but keeping it real, with adults too… Putting all of your happiness into one thing. What on earth do you do if or when that thing doesn’t work out? The person who puts all their joy in work and then gets made redundant. The person who prides themselves as an athlete and then suffers a permanent, debilitating injury. The person who measures their value by how much their partner loves them and then finds themselves single. Not to mention the pressure that you put on the thing that makes you happy – bad if it’s a job, worse if it’s an ideal of yourself and a hell of a heavy burden to put on a fellow human being if they are your only source of joy.
I’m not saying that those things shouldn’t bring you joy – they absolutely should and if they don’t, then by all means head out and join a gym, get a new job, search for greener pastures whether it’s a lifestyle or a partner. I’m also not saying grief doesn’t happen whenever things go wrong. I’ve certainly grieved a lot over the 20% of my life that doesn’t bring me happiness. It’s only human to mourn when you feel a sense of loss. But the ability to rebound from that grief, to go on living a life that you can feel value in… you can only do that if you diversify your happiness portfolio.
Of course some day I hope that I get that full 100. But even then, the romance will be the final puzzle piece, not an all-consuming desire to be cherished and to be seen to be cherished at the expense of other things. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the garlic wedges with friends, my sweaty workouts, being able to save money towards my goals and the look on my little dude’s face when I pick him up from daycare. 80% is still a pretty high percentage, and it’s definitely something I can live with.