Dear Angela,

Currently, everything in my life is going well for the first time in years. I have great friends, a great guy and I’m doing well in school and in my extracurriculars … but I can’t shake this feeling that the other shoe is just waiting to drop at any given moment. I can’t stop feeling guilty for all my past mistakes or feeling angst-ridden that I am just one small step away from messing up. I guess my question is how do I accept that I deserve good things in my life? Because some days I seriously don’t think I do and it’s a feeling that I have been carrying inside me for a very long time. I truly want to be happy, but I just don’t know how to.


Trying To Be Happy

Dear Trying To Be Happy,

I’m really glad that this is the question that floated into my inbox for my final Ask Angela of the semester. Glad doesn’t begin to describe it really. Ecstatic. Thrilled. Humbled. I’ve touched on everything this semester — weed, cocaine, sex, kinky sex, friendship woes — and now, this. Happiness. It sounds so simple when other people talk about it doesn’t it?

“Just be happy.”

Sometimes it’s not that easy.

I can relate in more ways than I can describe to you to what you’re feeling right now. The waiting is what I understand most: waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to wake up one day just to realize it was all just a sick prank the universe played on you, waiting for him to wake up and smell the coffee and realize he deserves someone better than you, waiting to realize that your happiness is fleeting, and darkness will slowly creep back up again and take hold of your life.

I don’t know you, my friend, but I’m tired of being the only one standing in the way of my own happiness.

Get out of your own head, dude. Why are you waiting for the other shoe to drop? Why are you preparing for the worst when all that’s been happening to you has been nothing but the best? Why do you think you don’t deserve to be happy?

I’ll tell you one thing: There’s not a single person on this damn planet who doesn’t deserve to be happy, to feel so good inside that all you want to do is dance in the rain and grin from ear to ear. And you are no exception.

I’m going to tell you a little tale of a lass who was damn near positive that she was incapable of loving — of letting happiness, light and joy into her life again. (Hint: The girl is me. I’m that girl. If you guessed that already, congratulations, you’re a fucking genius).

I’ve touched on this a few times through various Ask Angelas of the semester — my big, traumatic freshman year experience. This is not the time or place to delve into what happened — what really happened — but what you do need to know is I fell in love with a guy who loved cocaine more than he loved me. His addiction led him to do unspeakable things, and as a result, I left. I left with a heart so mangled, so beyond repair, that it struggled to beat and keep the blood pumping through my veins.

I was only half-human after that. I could barely function. I stopped going to class, stopped eating, stopped talking to the people who were trying to help me. And for some reason, I shifted blame onto myself for everything that happened. Frankly, I still do blame myself for a lot of what happened.

My reasoning was illogical, but profound nonetheless. How could I possibly learn to love again? To let someone be close to me? To force a smile? To feign happiness? To live?

At our most basic human instincts, we prevent ourselves from doing things we’re afraid of, e.g. jumping out of a plane if we’re afraid of heights or speaking in front of a crowd if we’re terrified of public address.

My fear was happiness. So I avoided it at all costs.

I lost a lot of friends, missed out on a lot of chances and robbed myself of being truly happy once more.

This year was different. I wish there was a moment that I could say changed me, made me wake up and realize, I deserve happiness for me. But really it was the full force of my friends and family that stuck with me through the hell of 2016, constantly reminding me that I deserve the best, nothing but the best, that forced me to start to live again, to love.

I have the best friend group right now that I’ve ever had in my entire life. My academics are turning around from the dip they took last year.

And I have a guy, a boyfriend. I knew from the moment I met him that I wanted him in my life, and the little black cloud hanging over my shoulder, head and heart whispered in my ear, “You don’t deserve this.” And for a while, I believed that I didn’t.

Somehow, someway, for some unknown reason, he decided he wanted to be in my life too. And he didn’t let me push him away. He stuck around. Words can’t describe the stupid happiness I
feel when I’m spacing out and think of something funny he’s said to me or when I think about the time I’ve spent letting myself be happy with him.

The happiness that I feel in my life right now has taught me how to feel whole again. It’s mended my heart, turned my wounds into scars and made me realize that we all deserve a little light in our lives.

So please do me, and yourself, a favor and let yourself fall so deep into happiness that you forget how to not be happy. Lose yourself in the good things that are happening in your life. Let yourself smile, laugh and be carefree, worry-free, of any baseless, unfounded fears.

I know better than anyone that while it sounds easy, it’s a lot harder to do in practice. But you’re capable of it, Trying To Be Happy. Happiness starts with you opening your arms and inviting it into your life. So spread your arms wide open and accept the happiness that has been chasing  after you.