Learning to let yourself be happy in your 20s

“Once you find the key to happiness, many doors will be unlocked”- My fortune cookie.

Has anyone found this key? Is it hidden under some three headed monster that no one knows how to find? Does this key even exist?

Sometimes, I think it’s really hard to be happy. I feel like everyone I know is in this weird transitional time, most call it their early twenties. We all call each other, talking about our problems, hoping the person has some sound advice to help get us out of this rut. It’s always the same though “Just keep working hard, keep going. One day things will get better and you’ll be happy”.

Why can’t I be happy now though? I know this sounds a little immature; maybe even a little selfish. But it’s an honest question. That’s when I made the decision. I’m going to just stop looking for happiness; I’m just going to let myself be happy.

I’m being 100 percent honest with you when I tell you this actually worked. I didn’t Google anything, or pin anything to a board titled “Ways 2 b Happy.” None of that. I just woke up and made the decision one day.

Okay. I lied. I did Google one thing. I searched Vines of babies dancing or making cute noises. (Those things could make the Grinch heart grow three sizes in under six seconds.)

I just started doing more of what made me happy. I found joy in the little things. I got excited about starting a new book or a different recipe on Pinterest I was going to try. I didn’t get a new job, didn’t get a boyfriend, I didn’t even cut my hair. I just stopped looking for things that would make me happy and started revisiting the ones that I knew did.

I think I can speak for everyone battling their early twenties when I say that life can sometimes be rough. You finally think you might have it all together, only to have everything come crashing down all at once.

But normally, those crashes are followed by good things, or at least by learning. It takes hard work and dedication to get something you want. It takes waking up everyday doing what you gotta do and then doing it again until you reach your goal. Before, I thought that meant waiting in this weird transitional period until you got there, being stuck in the middle ground between the start and finish line. Now, I know that’s just not true.

There’s this old cracked mug that we keep pencils in at my work. In faded teal letters it says “One bad day doesn’t make a bad life.” Who knew an impromptu pencil holder could be so wise?

I’m not saying that you need to have a grin painted on your face all the time. Bad things do happen and feeling your emotions is just part of being human. It would be creepy if we all walked around smiling like Barbie all the time. But it’s how you handle the situation that makes the difference.

I know that once I find my dream job, I probably won’t have as much free time as I do now. So I take a little longer at the gym, have lunch with my grandma, and really put that extra time into my resumé. Once I started looking at life in a more positive light, it was so much easier to be happy where I was no matter what.

All those things that I want in the future? The right job, that Instagram-worthy apartment? I still want them. I’m just not going to put all my happiness into if I have them or not. I mean, I’m sure I can find tons of things to Instagram between now and then.

A (kinda) recent college graduate, Amanda Steelman found comfort in writing while waiting for the phone to ring about her dream (any) job. You’ll most likely find her pinning cupcake recipes, playing 1989 on repeat and stalking Justin Timberlake’s Instagram. Amanda hopes one day to change the world, but right now she’s just living her life taco to taco. You can find her on Twitter @shmanda21 and Instagram @mandashmanda21

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