It was just an assignment. That’s all it was. Yet, I couldn’t figure out what the right answer was. Was there ever really a correct one? It was an English essay where we had to pick a character from the book we were reading and talk about and relate it back to ourselves. My character was flawed in a beautiful way. Misjudged by her elders and mocked by her peers. A free and unique spirit with ambitions far beyond her environment. The character doesn’t matter really. I’m sure everyone could pick a character from a book that resembles that. I’m sure most of my class picked the same person. What really mattered to me was the questions that followed. What does your character want out of life? I blanked. Okay, let’s try this again.. What do you want out of life? I froze. You’re overthinking it! What do you want, Hunter!? The teacher shouted out of frustration. Happiness? I said it so quietly as if embarrassed by my response. Maybe I was.
It was the answer he had been looking for but why did it take me so long to get it? What was so difficult about the question? It should have been such a simple answer that rolled off the tongue with ease but it got stuck somewhere between my brain and my throat. I think about this from time to time. It’s come up occasionally whenever I face a question about whether or not my happiness is valid. Of course it is but sometimes it’s not always clear to see. Especially, if your happiness happens to conflict with someone else’s view of what it should look like. I wasn’t a kid that stood up to voice out what I believed. I did and tried a lot of things but when I stated what I loved to do most out of those things, I sometimes got knocked down. I began to sit quietly rather than make a fuss. I became an expert at keeping the peace. You don’t want to be someone that questions everything but shying away for fear of rocking the boat isn’t good either. When it comes down to it your happiness is valid. It took me a good amount of time to understand this though. Maybe that’s why when I was asked what I wanted most out of life I retreated because that’s what I learned to do. Don’t dare say happiness. Don’t do it. Your happiness is nothing if it shakes up someone else. Maybe those thoughts came pouring in as I tried to form the answer. Happiness had taken a back seat during those years.
It’s not easy learning to put your foot down when enough is enough. I get it. I do. No one wants to be the one to crash the party but in some cases it must be done. When relationships become toxic. When your happiness is the breath you take after a long cry then you should know it’s time to face what you’ve been fearing. I’ll tell you though. When you do, it’s amazing. It’s like giving a big middle finger to all the times where you got an eye roll or a shut up for giving your opinion. It was so freeing. It was happiness. You’ve got to find what makes you happy and stand up for it. Or else you’ll find yourself trying to answer a question and feeling like an idiot for not realizing what it should be.