Dear One-year-ago Maria . . .

Mar 3, 2014 by

          A year ago today, I first used the term, “happiness experiment.” It was not a blog. It was not a calculated plan. It was not a mantra to live by. It was a hope. In celebration of the simple words I used to change everything, I am in Niagara, writing a letter to one-year-ago me. In the fall, one of my friends suggested that I write to past me for my one-year anniversary of The Happiness Experiment. I loved the idea. Past Maria was in serious need of a hug. She could use as much emotional support as her future happy self can give. Plus, that chick was (is) stubborn. She thought happiness was a lie. She’s not going to believe anyone other than herself who tries to tell her that she will make it out happy. I’m not even sure she’ll trust me, and I’m the product of her.

          You may (or may not) be wondering why I’m in Niagara. I wanted to autonomously celebrate The Happiness Experiment in one of my happy places. Happiness is my proudest life accomplishment thus far. I reached it on my own, so I wanted to independently celebrate it by reflecting on what I’ve created for myself. Niagara means a lot to me. As you know, it was here that happiness as I now know it kicked off. If I had to choose a single point when I went from unhappy to happy, it would be that amazing night I spent in Niagara last April. However, Niagara had significance prior to that. My dad used to bring my sisters and I here when we were kids. It was them that I thought of when I heard Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline play in the casino while visiting Niagara last July. Niagara is also the place that Olivia randomly drove me to almost two years ago, when I cried in the middle of a grocery store because I hated my job. Instead of letting me go home to work, she drove to the QEW and told me to pick a direction. I chose west, not knowing where it led at the time (directions are not my forte), and to Niagara I was brought. It helped me breathe that day. Thus, I believe that a trip to Niagara can fix just about anything (not that anything needs fixing at the moment). I can feel happiness every time I hit the Niagara-bound highway. So, it is here on the ledge of the fountain outside of the Fallsview Casino that I proudly sit in solitude, writing to my past self in happiness.

 

***

 

Dear One-year-ago Maria,

 
          It’s one-year-from-now you! Holla from Niagara, girl! Yup, I’m in Niagara alone on a Monday night. That’s right; future you goes out during the week and genuinely likes to do things on her own. #independence! (Oh, you should know, I hashtag life. It’s to the point that I talk aloud in hashtags. Oh my God, FYI: You will get Twitter! Let’s be real, though; I was talking in hashtags before Twitter. Nothing makes a statement quite like hashtags. [Don’t roll your eyes!] P.S. You’re going to get Facebook too. You might as well start coping with that soon-to-be reality now.) I actually had to block this solo mini road trip in my social calendar (you have a social calendar in the future, by the way, because it is so necessary) to ensure that I didn’t have plans with friends (you’re going to have friends!) in place of this very important me time. It’s the one-year anniversary of something epic. You’re probably wondering what the fuck I’m talking about, because you don’t think today is anything special, but you have no idea what you’ve started, pretty lady. Let me enlighten you: you’re about to save yourself.

          Today, for the first time, you used the phrase, “happiness experiment,” to allow yourself to do something that you wanted to do. Remember the self-talk you conducted earlier to convince yourself that it was okay to spend a little money to eat at La Carnita? You told yourself that you needed to see what makes you happy. You said that it was okay to start experimenting in attempt to find happiness. You justified going to La Carnita by referring to it as an experiment. I know that you feel guilty for spending the money now that you’ve gone. You feel guilty for doing anything from which you may derive enjoyment; because, at a young age, you were sold on the idea of suffering now for later. Consequently, you’re scared that every wrong move you make in the present is going to screw over your future. (It’s hurting my heart in remembering that your thinking is so flawed that you fear something as simple as going out for dinner could fuck future you – a.k.a. me – over.) You live in irrational fear, and it’s been ruining your life. Thankfully, you’ve had enough. You don’t realize it yet, but you essentially told your fears to go fuck themselves the other day. You were crying on the bathroom floor. I know, what else is new, right? That time will soon show its significance. That time was different than the many others. That time was life-changing. You came to the awareness that you needed to take ownership over your life in order to save yourself. You decided to make yourself happy. Spoiler alert: You actually do it! For that, beautiful (you need that, I know), I thank you. I am the incredibly happy person I am today because you were unbelievably strong. When we were 19, someone told us that we are way too determined to stay down. It would take until age 23 to get up, but you prove that person right. On that floor, you promised yourself change. You’ve always been one to follow through, and this was no exception.

          Without further ado, let me give you some more spoilers! I know you don’t like them, but these are just too good! Here goes: You’re less than two months away from ongoing happiness. In the meantime, you’re going to take action to get yourself there. You’re going to ask the girl that sits behind you at work to go Spanish dancing. You’ll put it off for a couple weeks due to social anxiety, but you’ll force yourself to do it by way of happiness experimentation. That will result in you meeting two of your future good friends, one of whom will invite you to Niagara for her 28th birthday, which will be the night your life takes a dramatic turn. You’ll bawl your eyes out the night before and morning of, because you don’t want to go. The ideas of spending the weekend with five chicks you barely know and entering a crowded club throw your social anxiety into a near panic attack. You force yourself out the door despite it. Thank you in advance for that. That day in Niagara will remind that you’re social and funny because you’ll easily hit it off with the pretty ladies you go with, who will continuously laugh at the things you say. That night will have you drunk off your ass in a club for the first time in too long to recall, which you’ll have minimal recollection of other than that it was fucking fun. Finally, that club will land one guy you don’t know in your mouth and another guy you once (sort of) knew (I’ll keep his identity a surprise) between your legs (in a PG-13, all-of-your-clothes-on-but-most-of-his-clothes-off kind of way). From there, happiness will spew. You become immediately addicted to the high, and successfully act to maintain it. You make an effort to make more new friends, generating a vibrant social life for yourself from no friends at all – literally. (Heads up: Olivia is weeks away from telling you that she may not want you in her life anymore. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt a lot. You’re about to lose your person. You’re also about to thrive. You’ve already decided that your happiness comes first by the time she tells you, and you channel that promise to yourself to healthily cope. She ultimately decides against cutting you out, but you should know: Olivia isn’t in your life one year from now, but not for the reason you think. She will not leave you. You will leave her. You will let her go in favour of happiness, and you will be okay. I promise.)

          In addition to a social life, you will have a dating life. Yup, you’re going to date! Seriously! I know you think that you’re already a spinster because you’ve prematurely given up hope that anyone will ever want to marry you, but boys will be back, babe! You’ll go on dates with eight guys over the next year. Don’t get too excited. You’ll be uninterested in all of them, but the point is: you date! Guys will like you again. Some will like you a little too much. In fact, I’m in the midst of a dating break as I write to you. I’m boy tired, which means you will be boy tired (but still open to what boys may unexpectedly come)! Congrats!

          Most importantly, you will love yourself. This is the key to sustaining the happiness that you will cultivate. You will prioritize your personal happiness above everything, including the people around you. You will be fiercely independent. You will be confident. You will be bold. People will know you for who you are, because you will tell them. The Happiness Experiment, those words you’ve already begun to use to ward off guilt, will become a blog. You will write it with the intent of encouraging people to go for happiness too, and you will write with utmost honesty because you want everyone on the floor to rise with a realistic perception of what happiness is and how it can be attained. You will prove to others and yourself that happiness is possible, and you will be shameless in doing so. You will realize that you ultimately owe nothing to anyone, and this will free you to be yourself. You will share 96 (about to be 97 – holy crap!) happiness tips. You will live as though you are unafraid, and people will be inspired. You’ll know this because they will tell you. More so, you will inspire yourself. You will remember the cold floor, the suffocating tears, and the years of fear, and proudly know that you claimed happiness despite all of it. You have a lot to look forward to, love; and, because of you, so do I. Thank you for starting The Happiness Experiment today.

Happiness Tip: Get off the floor.

 
Love always,

Yourself

 
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