Happy days are a possibility

I used to live with a weight on my shoulders, but some recent realizations have helped take off some of the weight and have given me a lot more happy days.


by Lily Manning, Editor-in-Chief

It starts with a few anxious thoughts in my head. Sometimes it’s a worry about some homework, other times it’s a misunderstood message from a friend. But no matter what it is, it eats at my brain. From there the frantic worry gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and then I feel a bit shaky, uncoordinated in the steps I take.

These feelings carry on throughout my day. I walk around with a weight on my shoulders, living each moment in some blurred schedule: out of bed, school, some time to socialize, more school, work, homework, back in bed.

Up until about two months ago, a lot of my days looked like this. I would drag my drained body and exhausted mind around, fulfilling obligations and expectations while I sat behind a fake smile feeling empty. I felt like if I continued on this way, one day things would just get better.

Eventually, though, I got sick of constantly having days like this. A couple months ago, I started to rewire the way my brain thought about life and relationships and communication. I realized the way I had been living my life turned me into a really unhappy person, and I took it upon myself to figure out what was making me unhappy and cut it out of my life.

I started to realize that a lot of the friendships and relationships I had felt forced on some front. I felt the need to be friends with people in order to be in some “group”, and I felt like I didn’t come out as my full self in doing this. Once I realized that, a lot of things fell in place so I could be more enthusiastic and happy about life.

I thought a lot about the people I was friends with, thought about the qualities I liked about them, the qualities I didn’t, reflected on the way they treated me. In doing this I was able to really narrow in on the friends that really valued having a relationship with me.  I no longer feel some obligation to go out whenever invited because I don’t feel any attachment to a “friend group” mentality, which had previously drained me as I tried to keep up with it. I have more recently been able to focus in on individual relationships with people inside the previous group, and make more time for people I really value outside of this group. This has been one of the heaviest weights off my shoulders recently, and what I blame for a lot of the happy days I have had recently.

I have found taking time for myself has been one of the most important parts of me becoming a happier person. I think something a lot of us can struggle with is finding time to relax. For me, relaxing doesn’t mean just laying in bed, watching TV or browsing through your phone. True relaxing is being able to let it all go, and simply sit with yourself and reflect, and this time to reflect has been so helpful to me in being able to locate and let go of what makes me unhappy. Over the past few months, I have spent countless hours just driving around Kansas City. Being alone in the car with music blaring over the speakers has given me a chance to keep my hands busy while my mind is empty, allowing me the time I need to reflect on myself.

I’ve found that life is a lot more fulfilling when you live more consciously. It’s hard to do with all the distractions we have in life, but now I try to be more purposeful with my words and actions. I don’t always think a lot before I speak, and this has been something that leads me to uncomfortable places when things get misinterpreted. Even though it’s something that is hard, and I struggle with it all of the time, I’ve found that putting in the extra few seconds beforehand can save a lot of feelings.

I think we all fall victims to the routines we put in place for ourselves. I know it makes me dizzy to think that everyday I eat the same thing for breakfast, take the same route to school, follow the same mindless schedule around school and, except for some rare occasion, I don’t deviate from this. I think we lose a lot of the special things about life when we ignore all but our daily routines, and I’ve found that by either being more observant in my routine or axing it altogether has made me a lot less anxious for the day.

Since realizing some of this, my days have gotten better. Not everyday looks good or feels good, but more recently I have had days where I walk around with a cheesy smile on my face and without a weight on my shoulders, where I feel happy for no reason and strong because I know not everyday has to be a bad one.