Joy Revealed In Hard Times
I believe joy is a choice, but I didn’t always believe that. I spent most of my life looking for joy in people or things. When I had no joy, I would set my sights on another endeavor I believed would bring me joy. Then, life as I knew it changed right before my 29th birthday. I started teaching at a low socio-economic school in the fall of 2005 and was engaged to be married in December of the same year. My expectations were high. I pictured myself receiving an award like “New Teacher of the Year”, and I was determined to do everything in my power to make my fiance happy even though I didn’t have the faintest idea how to be happy. Then reality hit: the teaching job I thought I would love became a source of constant anxiety, just six months into my marriage my husband said he wanted to file for divorce and a four day vacation to Mexico with my mother only intensified my feelings of loneliness and confusion. As I sat on one of the many private hotel beaches overlooking the Pacific, watching the sun disappear behind the lush mountains of Puerto Vallarta I thought, “How did everything in my life just completely fall apart?”
I took some time off from my teaching career and I moved back in with my parents during the spring of 2006. I felt like a complete failure; I was devoid of joy and pathetically insecure. I had nothing to show for my efforts except a marriage that fell apart and a career I wasn’t sure I still wanted. I had lost everything and was at the bottom of the abyss when joy revealed itself to me. I remember I was smoking a cigarette in my parents’ garage when I thought, “You never pictured it would come to this, did you? Even in your worst nightmares you never imagined you’d be here, but you are and you survived.” And for the first time in a long time, I felt peace.
I believe I am the only one who can turn the key and open the door to my joy. No one else, nor anything else can. Material possessions lose their appeal. Job security doesn’t exist. People, even those who love me and have good intentions, will let me down, and I will inevitably do the same. It’s unavoidable. I’m not perfect, and thankfully, I don’t have to be to enjoy life.
I’m okay with my imperfections. I accept that I can’t be all things to all people and that they can’t be all things to me. I take my losses and turn them into winnings by appreciating the lessons learned. I love even when love isn’t returned in the manner which I desire. This life is temporary. Everything changes. I can choose to be miserable because plans changed, or I can be joyful knowing that life is full of surprises.
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