For a while, I believed happiness was something within reach; you just had to keep moving towards it by making “good” decisions. I always had something I was working towards with this idea that once I was done, I would finally be happy. I think years spent in education, especially high school which is just a nightmare, has a lot to do with this. To get through those awful high school years of teenage drama and angst, I had to believe that I would be happy once I finished school and moved to a new place for university. For a while, moving away was basically what I believed “happy” was.
But I’m now two years into being away and I am officially an Adult. Yet some days it still feels like I’m looking for another “moving away” to work towards rather than just accepting where I am right now. I realise that mental illness plays a huge role in this. With anxiety, you’re never entirely settled because anything could change and something might be wrong. I worry if I accept where I am right now and things go wrong I’ll become unhinged. If I am constantly looking ahead then when things aren’t good right now I can at least say “oh, this isn’t where I want to be anyway” and move on… It sounds like a good enough coping method but it’s actually not.
When looking ahead to avoid getting too attached to the present, I’m neglecting all the great things that are happening. I’m not being here enough to be the kind of partner my significant other deserves if I’m constantly worried things might go wrong between us. I can’t be the kind of friend I want to be if I’m using past friendships to predict what the future holds for my current friendships. I’m not fully engaging in what I love doing because “what if I fail?”. It’s pretty exhausting and I think it adds to a kind of mindset which prevents me from getting better.
So this leads to why I love photography and why I think it’ll help with my recovery. Photography helps me focus – literally. When I have my camera out, I’m grounded and kept within that scene. I can pick out all the colours I like and decide what kind of settings I want to use to capture that moment… Then when I put my camera away I can appreciate what’s in front of me with more detail.
I understand that happiness isn’t a somewhere or something. It can be just changing your perspective on what you have right now and allowing yourself to just be. Less waiting for something and allowing yourself to get stuck in a rut because it’s “not your turn” and more actually making positive changes to appreciate what’s going on right now.
Thank you for reading,
Laurel May xxx