Since I was a kid and until very recently (i.e., two days ago) I had a goal: to be highly regarded in something. It didn’t matter if I was an actress, writer, scientist, astronaut, or politician, I just had to be really, really (ridiculously) good at something so that I could change ¡the world!
And throughout my life I’ve been trying to hone in on what that thing is. Am I a painter? Could I be the president?
I’ve tried a lot of things now. In college I was a pre-med Cognitive Science and Spanish major. I have a masters degree in Computer Science. I play two instruments, draw, write, run and do yoga. But none of the stuff I do or did screams out at me as the thing that I should be doing. And instead of giving up, I dwell on everything I’ve quit that could have been the thing and continue to try to learn new things that could be the thing.
“Adults” have told me since I was able to hear that it doesn’t matter if you’re famous or amazing. All you need is love and family and friendships and experiences. You don’t need to change the world! But to that sort of commentary I could only think one thing: you’re saying that because you failed!
I know I sound like a stereotype: a mid-twenties romantic trying to find their way in the world, frustrated by their lack of directed drive and annoyed by people who tell them that they should give up. And that’s because I am!
But walking home from work two days ago I thought of something that will help me be alright with not being famous that no one (I have ever paid attention to) has told me:
I just need to be happy to change the world.
I am so happy when I see someone I don’t know laughing to themselves on their way home from work. Or when I see someone catch their foot on the sidewalk and almost fall but don’t and they make a funny face about it.
I like it when people I know or don’t know make positive connections with me at random times, by making a funny expression in the airport security line or by ;-)ing at me when someone says something we both feel the same way about.
Every time I do one of those things, I hope people feel the same happiness. I hope that every time I run into a pole on the sidewalk, someone sad sees who’s day is made slightly less sad by seeing it. By just being happy, stupid people we have the ability to be day-makers for lots of other people.
And given that it’s a dark and divided time and that at any given moment many people are unhappy, there’s a lot that happy energy can do to ease tension and make people feel alright.
Along with “wearing more patterns”, I’ve made “sharing joy” (working title) a new years resolution. I want to do my part to keep the net happiness of the world a little higher so that, even while we’re trying to save the world from disaster, people still throw balls of paper at one another and make crappy jokes. Because otherwise the world is going to start to look like this:
When what I really think we need is for the world to look like this: