Recently, I was tasked with answering the following question: What do you want more than anything else out of life?
There are a lot of really great, really selfish answers to this question. You might want notoriety (the good kind that comes from doing something like discovering a planet, not the kind that comes from something like dying on a toilet). Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of owning at least eight high-end cars. Or maybe you just want to have enough money that you can do nothing but play Dragon Age all day without worrying where your next meal is coming from. Maybe your desires are more altruistic, covering everything from world peace to providing sustainable, reliable food sources for those most in need.
But when I was given this question, I didn’t think of my abysmal checking account, saving the world, or even the fact that I could really go for a meatball sub right about now. My answer was simple: I want to be happy.
I think that we take happiness for granted. It’s gotten to a point where we actually pride ourselves on how cynical we can be, until we’re actively looking for ways to refuse to genuinely enjoy things. I guarantee you that right now, someone somewhere is forcibly restraining themselves from enjoying a Carly Rae Jepsen pop anthem just because they think that it somehow makes them intellectually superior (and because they don’t love themselves).
My point is that I don’t always understand why cynicism is en vogue when it’s so emotionally exhausting. I find myself (more often than not these days) in periods of time where it is difficult to feel happy about, well, anything. At most, I’m able to get myself to be apathetic about things (which is one notch just below being jaded about everything, in my book), but truly feeling happy and content? Consistently? Without feeling like I have to overcompensate for my own (un)reaction?
Recently I’ve been thinking about the idea of a will to live. And I don’t mean that in a “dial 9 and the first 1, just in case” kind of way. I mean it in the “why am I doing this” sort of way that comes with a third attempt at talk therapy and a continually changing anti-depressant prescription. There are moments in between depressive episodes and panic attacks where I catch a glimpse of myself – the person that I know I have the potential to be. I’m not holding out for one miraculous morning where I wake up, immediately jump out of bed, and notice that I’ve lost 20 pounds and can suddenly start my day without at least an hour and a half of pep-talks. Rather, I find myself working towards (and looking forward to) the moments where happiness isn’t some fleeting occurrence that leaves me feeling worse off after it goes away.
Then, and only then, will I give cynicism a try.