Updated: Dec 21, 2020
You're only as happy as...
My mom always told me, “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child.”
For me, a 28-year-old very-much-not-mother, I recently have reflected on this phrase a lot.
During the pandemic, it doesn’t matter if you’re
Married or single Employed or unemployed
Working out or eating Hot Cheetos on your couch for dinner
Everyone is going through it at varying degrees.
While I have faced my fair share of struggles this year due to drastic changes at work, periods of isolation, and concern about the general state of the world, I have also felt grateful to have grown into the strongest and most confident version of myself that I have been since probably seventh grade (I truly believe my Bat Mitzvah at age 13 was the happiest I have ever been in life).
My friends even joke that it is very on brand that “my year” happens to be the worst year for everyone else. This year, despite it all, I found myself in the happiest, healthiest relationship I have ever been in (more on that another time), established financial stability for the first time in my 20s, and most importantly, found love for and within my own self.
That being said, similar to what mom always told me, “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest friend.”
During the pandemic, I have spent countless nights thinking about my friends and wishing that they can finally get what they are searching for so we can all revel in our happiness together. As the person in the friend group who is usually crying over a boy (guilty) or feeling like life is not headed in the right direction, I finally have gotten there only to find so many of my friends hurting.
Whether it’s a better job, a relationship, a solo trip to Europe, an open conversation about politics with their parents, a dream wedding, or just peace of mind, I just want everyone to get what they need to thrive, not just survive.
And while one thing can’t switch on the happy light, if the one thing weighing you down the most finally got resolved, you can’t deny life would likely give you a nice boost to help set you on your best path forward.
When I started to realize the joy I was feeling (it comes in waves) and the deep sadness my friends were feeling, a family member of mine who just birthed her first child (a beautiful and cuddly baby girl) whispered to me, “It’s kind of weird when something really really good happens during a time that is really really bad for most people, right? But know it’s okay to enjoy it, even when it feels wrong.”
So...what do you do?
For me, it’s a few things:
Regularly check-in with friends. If a friend is upset about a project at work, follow up and ask specifically about it. If you know someone who is planning a wedding right now, let them vent it out. Sometimes people just want to know that they are being heard.
You can’t solve everyone’s problems, so focus on what you can do. Ice cream doesn’t mend a broken heart, but it sure as hell helps. In a time when we can’t all be together, a little pick-me-up like a Postmated (?) cup of coffee during a bad day at work or even celebratory cupcakes after a big win can go a long way.
Set boundaries. I have an auto reflex to answer the phone no matter what time. This likely isn’t going to stop forever, and it’s an honor to have people in my life that trust me in their most vulnerable moments. However, it’s okay to enjoy some uninterrupted happiness too. You are entitled to cuddling on the couch with your new boo without replying to a text. Sometimes, it can wait.
Express your joy! Sometimes you feel *annoying* talking about how great something is in your life when you feel like the people around you aren’t in the same boat. Whether it’s a massive raise, your reimagined wedding plans, a new baby, a new relationship, or finally doing your first pull-up at the gym, people need to hear good news right now. You are allowed to be happy and you are allowed to be happy publicly. Your friends love you and love your joy. And if they don’t, they aren’t friends.
And remember, if you feel like life is filled with complicated emotions right now, that’s because you are compassionate and kind. Cut yourself some slack.
Be happy when you’re happy.
Be hopeful for others when they aren’t.
You’re entitled to your joy.
Ashley Beresid is a 20-something year old living in Chicago, just figuring it all out like the rest of us. Passionate about progressive policies and creating a more equitable world for all people, Ashley graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno and spent time working the campaign circuit for several years. Currently, she can be found working in the digital healthcare space, where she focuses on communications and corporate event management.
Ashley is a graduate of The Second City’s Storytelling 1 and 2 courses and has competed in multiple Moth StorySlams. She is a chai latte connoisseur, lover of delivery sushi, and an amateur record collector.