The Beginning

Oct 9, 2015 by

“You are under no obligation to be the same person you were a year, month, or even 15 minutes ago. You have the right to grow. No apologies.”

– Unknown


          I write down things people say by habit. Insightful things and funny things and heart-melting things and things that make me think. I can’t remember what it’s like not to do that. I’m so used to recording my life that I often forget there was a time, a time before I was a writer, that I didn’t.

          Amongst my notes, amongst the conversation excerpts and the song quotes and the thoughts that cross my mind, there are bullet points marked “last post.” They date back to mid summer. Evidently, I’ve been preparing to write said “last post” for quite some time. I just wasn’t ready.

          I was scared.

          I could let you in on all of the self-interrogation, all of the questions I’ve asked myself in contemplating no longer writing The Happiness Experiment, but really, it all comes down to two primary concerns: What does letting go of the blog that made me happy mean for the rest of my life? And what’s my point without it?

          “There’s a book in you,” a friend of mine from my last workplace said to me today as we caught up over lunch. “It might not come out for ten years or even longer, but there’s a book in you.”

          I blushed almost guiltily before telling her that I’ve come to the decision to stop writing The Happiness Experiment.

          “You’re very talented,” she responded. “I’d hate to see that talent go to waste.”

          “I’m kind of tired of my life being public knowledge,” I explained.

          “Why don’t you write about things that aren’t your life?” she asked.

          “I’m not motivated to right now, because I’m also kind of tired of writing. I used to want to do it, but I’ve felt like I’ve been forcing myself to for months.”

          I’m not sure exactly when writing turned into a have-to instead of a want-to, but it has.

          “I used to have no problem going from one computer at work to another after work, because I enjoyed writing,” I continued. “Now – I don’t know – I don’t feel like I need to analyze so much of my life anymore. I love where I work and I love my life outside of work and I love my friends and – ”

          “You have other interests now,” she summarized for me. “That’s okay!”

          “Yes, and I want to enjoy them without writing about them. I want to eat without taking pictures of my food. I want to live my life without posting about it. There are moments that don’t get posted, and I want more of those moments. I want more memories with people that are just ours. I don’t want to publicize so much anymore.”

          “That’s growth!” she assured me – and not in a way to mean that this version of me is more mature or somehow better than the version of me that was cool with relaying my life for people to read; but rather, in a way to mean that I’m entering a different stage.

          “You know how you have different versions of yourself?” I asked her.

          “Yes,” she nodded.

          “I don’t want to look back on the 23-to-25-year-old version of me who wrote The Happiness Experiment and miss her. I want to continuously like my present self.”

          “There will be times that you don’t continuously like your present self, as I’m sure you’ve experienced even while happy,” she pointed out.

          “Oh yes, I’m well aware. What I mean is – okay, at 18, I was very social and I loved that version of me. Following that were all the years I was depressed – until The Happiness Experiment.”

          “You feel guilty,” she nailed it.

          “Yes! I feel guilty!” I agreed.

          “You feel guilty for leaving behind what made you happy; and you’re worried that because it made you happy, you won’t be happy without it. That’s wrong. You needed all of that writing to get here. You’re growing, and you’re only going to continue to grow.”

          She’s right. This blog showed me what passion feels like. It did exactly what it was supposed to do for me: show me that happiness exists and how to live it.

          “I’m so glad we had lunch,” I smiled. “I’m actually starting to feel good about this. I’ve been trying to remind myself that The Happiness Experiment was a mentality before it was a blog, so it doesn’t end with the writing. I don’t have to write The Happiness Experiment to live it. I get to carry everything I’ve learned with me. And not writing the blog going forward doesn’t undo what I’ve already written. My blog’s there for me to reference whenever I want to. It’ll also be there if I ever decide I want to update it.”


          “The other thing is, I define myself as a writer. When people ask me what I do, I don’t talk about my job. I tell them I’m a writer.”

          “You’re still a writer. Even if you don’t write, you’re still a writer. You are whatever you decide you are. I haven’t painted in – I don’t know – three years?” she guessed. “But I’m still an artist.”

          Those words reminded me of a Nayyirah Waheed quote: “Remember, you were a writer before you ever put word to paper. Just because you were not writing externally does not mean you were not writing internally.”

          “And why do we need to be anything?” my friend asked. “Why can’t we just be human beings on a journey? The Happiness Experiment is a part of you. It’s not all of you.”

          “I think that’s exactly it. I’ve framed The Happiness Experiment as my life for so long. I’ve framed my blog as my life. But my life is what I’m living. My blog is just the record.”

          “I told you the moment I first read your blog that I would read you as a published writer one day. I sent you an email about it.”

          “I remember,” I smiled again. “I kept it.”

          “You’ve got a talent, but you can give yourself permission to grow,” she encouraged.

          That’s precisely what I’ve been in need of for months: my own permission. That’s the very foundation of The Happiness Experiment. At the start, The Happiness Experiment was as simple as giving myself permission to do what I wanted to do while also allowing myself to opt out of whatever I didn’t want to do. Essentially, not writing is just another experiment in happiness that I’m trying for as long as it makes me happy. Thus, my point remains the same: happiness.

          “You’re a blossom,” my friend beamed as she hugged me goodbye outside of the restaurant after lunch. “Keep blossoming! Keep growing! You’re just at the beginning.”

Happiness Tip: Let yourself grow.

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