This I Believe

Patricia - Hampden, Maine
Entered on October 20, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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A Happy Epiphany

I believe that everyone has happiness inside of them that cannot be taken away.

I always considered myself to be a fairly happy child, but with the transition from elementary school to middle school came anxiety, which brought about misery and anger. By the time I reached 8th grade, I was regularly meeting with a therapist and struggling with my diagnosis of general anxiety disorder and depression. I finally figured how to put my problems aside for an hour, an afternoon, a week, and be happy, but it was a constant battle. I felt like I had to convince myself to be happy in order for that to happen.

And so went most of my high school career. Eventually, my good times outnumbered the bad. I had learned enough about myself to recognize when I was getting anxious and overwhelmed or drifting into depression. I was able to act sooner to keep my emotional issues from taking over my life for more than a week. By my high school gradation, I was proud of being able to overcome my personal obstacles and was able to find joy in much of the world around me. The world could make me happy and that was enough for me.

The next year I felt like I struggled with every aspect of college, but all in all I saw my first year of independence as a success. I enjoyed reflecting on my life and looking at how far I’d come. For the first time I felt intelligent, accomplished, and beautiful for a long period of time. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in my own greatness, that I didn’t notice that not everything was going great. I was determined to stay upbeat, and apparently that meant that I simply ignored the not so great things going on around me. Consequently, I crashed and burned just before the end of the summer. I had blind sighted myself, making this relapse into depression that much harder.

However, a funny thing happened this time. Shortly after I admitted to myself that I was depressed, I realized that I was perfectly capable of picking myself up and moving on. This shocked me. Had it always been this easy? Was I just setting myself up for an even harder fall? The truth was, during my period of confidence, I had discovered my inner happiness. This flame of happiness had always been inside me but it had gotten so buried or hidden away by all of my insecurities, troubles, and convictions of discontent that it had been impossible to see. Now, I feel like I no longer have to rely on the world around me to bring me joy. I don’t feel the need for compliments or awards from others because I give those things to myself.

I believe that this happiness can be found in everyone. I believe that it gets hidden and most people need help to discover it, but it is there from the day we are born to the day that we die and it can never be taken away.