4 years ago in the fall of 2012 I started my freshman year of college at the University of Oregon. I moved 495 miles away from home to pursue my dream of playing clarinet in a professional orchestra and into a dorm the size of my closet with a roommate I had never met before.
Everything I had known about life for 18 years changed overnight.
Along with a heavy load of intense classes and 8am Monday mornings, I was navigating making friends and living the “college life” I’d waited so long for. I quickly found myself in an unhealthy relationship, confused, and stressed beyond belief.
I had successfully lost myself in the rush to reinvent everything I ever was.
Thankfully, I was smart enough to know that the path I was walking down wasn’t leading me to the life I wanted to live. I hunkered down, let go of toxic friendships, and started going to church.
For the second time in less than a year, everything about myself changed almost overnight.
And then a special guy walked into my life and completely swept me off my feet.
10 months later I joined the Mormon church. A year after that I got engaged and 6 months later I got married. All while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, practicing clarinet several hours a day, completing internships, working, living on my own, serving at church, and trying to keep a social life.
For the third time in less than 4 years, everything about my life changed in a matter of months.
Stress became my norm. My body quickly associated productivity with nervous energy. I soon found myself in a therapists office diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
It all came crashing down on me halfway through my senior year of college, 6 months post-wedding. Marriage was harder than I thought it would be. Our living situation was difficult. I was preparing for my senior clarinet recital in the same week I had a big job interview. And then I got shingles.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is most common in older adults with weakened immune systems due to stress, injury, or other conditions. Here I was 22 years old, visibly healthy to the eye, but deteriorating on the inside. It was a big wake up call. I knew that the way I was living had to change.
Flash forward one year later and life feels the best it has felt in years. I have a job I absolutely love, I have fulfilling relationships with family and friends, and I’m becoming more of the person I want to be everyday. Stress isn’t my normal state of being anymore. I’m more confident in who I am than I have ever been and I know it’s just going to get better. With that said, life is nowhere near blissful perfection. I frequently fall back into the same thought patterns that became my norm for several years and life becomes too much to bare more often than not; however, it is night and day different to the life I was living a year ago.
I credit 100% of this massive change of being to my discovery and completely immersing myself in faith, meditation, mindfulness, and all things spirituality. I’ve worked through a lot of junk by connecting to my inner self. I’ve uncovered thoughts and feelings I would have never connected to if I had never given myself the opportunity to listen.
When was the last time you truly took the time to listen?
The older I get the more I learn that life isn’t going to magically be perfect one day. Our life is the product of the things we do every single day. If 99% of those things are mindless and rushed, our entire life will be the same. Slow down. Quiet your surroundings. Take the time to listen. If that means you have to get up an hour before your roommate, family, or spouse/partner, then do it. Go for a walk. Light a candle. Take a bath. Give yourself the gift of leisure. A 4.0 GPA or the perfect job or husband does not equal happiness.
Happiness is knowing yourself, believing in yourself, and living accordingly every single day.
What have you done today to make yourself happy?
Check back in next week for a follow-up post with inspiration on daily practices to live a more intentional and happy life.
Until next time…
P.S. I’m back on Snapchat! Follow me @courtneyglausi.