Today I was watching One Tree Hill (corny, I know) and one of the characters said, “Happiness is a mood, not a destination.” We are constantly saying, “one day I’ll be happy,” or “maybe tomorrow I’ll be happy.” By making happiness a goal, a “destination,” we never really focus on what it’s like to truly feel joy because we are constantly looking for something that will make us happier.
We should focus on the little things that make us happy, like watching a really good movie or spending time with friends. Eventually we’ll realize that those small things are what really make us happy. I know lately, I’ve been focusing on writing. When I was little, I always used to write stories, and even though I could barely put a proper sentence together, I would boast about becoming an author when I grew up. I came to college and completely forgot about writing, until now. I’ve realized that I don’t have to bottle up my feelings because I can write about them.
I started writing every day, even if it’s just a sentence or too. And I can say, at this moment, I am happy.
Today I had an anxiety attack. I was sitting in class, waiting for my final bio exam to come out. Now, this was an exam I worked my butt off for– I studied every night for about 5-6 hours. And after I took the exam, I was disappointed by the lack of confidence I had. Usually, I come out of an exam feeling really good about it, or really shitty. And after that exam I was feeling pretty shitty.
Now today, my professor was ready to return the exam, and all of a sudden, my heart started racing. I got as nervous as I did right before I had to do any kind of public speaking. I remember trying to concentrate on my professor’s lecture, but I started feeling dizzy and nauseous. I got up a decided to go out for a breather. I’ve never had this happen to me before. I understand feeling nervous before getting an exam back, but this wasn’t any kind of nervous. This feeling of angst was permanent in my stomach, and I was subconsciously convincing myself that I had failed the exam. It turns out I actually did way better than I thought, and I instantly felt like I could breathe again.
One thing I’ve learned in college is that you have to breathe. My dad and I always had this ongoing joke about forgetting to breathe. One time in high school, I was studying for the SAT and one of their tips were: “Don’t forget to breathe.” And I remember telling him, “Why is that even a tip. You can’t forget to breathe.” And he just smiled at me and said “Sam, don’t forget to breathe!”
Now that I’m college I am constantly reminded of my father’s little saying. This first year of college has been one of the most stressful times of my life. I’ve realized that I’ve let stress take the best of me. Instead of focusing on myself and what makes me happy, I’ve spent too much time fixated on what doesn’t make me happy. I’ve lost track of the little things that make me smile.
Anxiety and depression is real in college, and most of the time you can’t tell whose suffering through it. Now I’m learning to take my own advice, and I’m just going to breathe.