Tuesday February 7, 2017
By: Habiba Elhady
For small talk, people often ask stupid and meaningless questions, like asking kids if they love their moms more or their dads, or asking adults if they are single or what’s new in their lives. As trivial as they are, these questions may unconsciously influence their recipient in a negative way. I was really happy with my life until people started asking me questions like, ‘what are you up to’ or ‘what are you doing with your life?’ I would shrug and mutter, “Nothing!”
The look in their eyes showed that they felt sorry for me, and I always wondered why. Not to mention that every time after this little conversation, there would be a moment of awkward silence that made me feel inferior and boring, as if there should be something more interesting going on in my life.
At first I didn’t think much about it, but the more I was asked these stupid questions, I grew more annoyed. After a while I started to think that maybe I’m an unambitious useless person who doesn’t have any dreams about making money or becoming successful. They unconsciously made me feel insecure.
I was always content with the slow rhythm of my life, and I enjoyed myself and my life even without much going on for me, and I never felt like I’m missing out on something I will regret when I’m older.
My idea of happiness is so simple. It’s being home, drinking mint tea with my favorite sandwich of cheese and tomato, the well-being of my loving family, and doing the things that I love most, sketching, playing the guitar, tailoring and cooking. I’m mostly self-taught. I’m not really good at any of them, but these hobbies fulfill me and fill me with happiness and satisfaction and I try hard to improve them.
I was content with my life not complacent, but people misinterpreted my content as being complacent, not caring that my life is wasted away from under me while I know there is more I want to achieve.
I didn’t understand why they felt sorry for me. Maybe because they thought I’m doing these things to escape the “real life” which I’m not good at. Or maybe they never saw me as someone with big dreams because I just want to play the guitar and tailor better. Because my dreams are simple, many don’t take them seriously, or view them as trivial, and because of that I sometime am hesitant to share them with people.
Their words got into my head and I felt inferior. So I became so stressed out about the things I should do rather than the things I wanted to do, and my thoughts became gloomy. By their standards, I’m not good enough at anything academically, religiously, athletically, my social life, my love life. There is nothing that I’m excelling at. Compared to people around me I was a failure, and that made me unhappy.
I was left with a certain void that I couldn’t fulfill, no matter what I did. I started to question myself why I am ignoring what life had given me and moaned about being unhappy. I had to find a solution and to identify what is important to me and what brings me happiness.
I took a step back to do some true self-evaluation, and I realized that I was happiest before I allowed these people to tell me about the right way to live your my life. My happiest days were the ones I was not trying to be someone else.
My self-evaluation concluded that when I tried to be “successful” in the eyes of others that was when I became negative and unhappy. I also became aware that No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Then I realized that happiness isn’t so elusive. The only reason we believed that it is, is because our definition of happiness depends on what others think. I will never be able to meet everyone’s expectations. No one will, because happiness is subjective. Everyone’s idea of happiness and success is different and unique. It’s a dream job for a person, or being independent, making money, becoming popular, a happy marriage or just drinking mint tea with your favorite sandwich.
The only person you can meet his/her expectation is you
Edited by: Mariam Meshal