The end of September and most of October found me burning bright, embracing challenges, showing up, being myself. I felt fulfilled. I felt well and truly alive. I felt good. And I was gathering more. More joy. More love. More peace. More health. More beauty. More creativity. More community. More freedom. More satisfaction. It was incredible.
And then I hit a wall. I felt guilty for being joyful. I started shrinking again so I did not make myself or others uncomfortable. I chose ennui and unhappiness because I did not feel worthy of the incredible life I am lucky enough to live. I started thinking Who the hell do you think you are? You have life so insanely good. Why should you want it to be even better, why should you want even more fulfillment when some people don’t even have a place to sleep or enough food to eat. Who the hell are you?
Why shouldn’t I turn my home into a center for community and creativity?
Why shouldn’t I write what I want to write for fun? And why shouldn’t I write what I ache to write to explore myself and the world?
Why shouldn’t I invite strangers over for dinner after connecting with them at a coffee shop?
Why shouldn’t I wear curve-hugging dresses that make me feel fabulous?
Why shouldn’t I dance more often?
Why shouldn’t I delight in crocheting on Saturday night?
Why shouldn’t I spend minutes watching bugs go about their day?
Why shouldn’t I cry when something hurts my heart?
Why shouldn’t I laugh uproariously over clever word play or astonishingly stupid jokes?
Why shouldn’t I love wildly and extravagantly?
Not one of those things makes anyone’s life worse, and being an even better, more authentic, more joyful me can only make a positive difference in the world.
Listening to Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes snapped me out of the insanity of choosing to be unhappy because not everyone else in the world is happy before I gave any more than a week to disgruntled living. I don’t think I am the only one, though, who is aware of her good fortune and feels guilty for trying to create more goodness in her own life. So if that’s you, too, let me try to do for you what Shonda Rhimes did for me and say this:
Your unhappiness and dissatisfaction does nothing to better the world. You know those people you admire for living boldly and creatively and passionately and freely as themselves? They make decision after decision to live a satisfying life even when it is uncomfortable or difficult or challenging, even when they feel guilty for knowing joy so deeply while others struggle daily for sustenance and shelter. And they take that joy and all the good they’ve created and they put it back into the world. And it matters.
I love those people. I’ve been watching them, talking to them, and reading their books. I’m married to one of them. And now I’m asking myself why not me?
Why not you?