Happiness is a fleeting thing:
A temporary satisfaction
To curb a permanent dissatisfaction.
Happiness is a beautiful thing:
A moment of laughter or a smile
To break up the mundane everyday-life routine.
Happiness can be a dangerous thing:
A momentary high
To fill a void we can’t seem to find.
The true nature of happiness is not permanence,
Nor will it satisfy that longing in your heart,
But my God,
It’s a magical thing to feel happy.
Seek happiness in your everyday,
But seek fulfillment over anything else.
On Sunday, I decided to step out of my minuscule comfort-zone, and go to a bible study. I generally despise every social gathering I go to, because I am so socially inept, but I keep trying. It would be easy to stay shut-in all the time and not meet new people simply because it’s hard, but what’s easy is rarely fulfilling.
I almost did not go. I almost said, “I’ll do it next week,” knowing full well that I wouldn’t. But at midnight, I texted my mother telling her that I was going. If I told someone, I felt accountable. It would be harder to back out.
I went with an open mind, and I’m so glad I did.
Here’s the thing about being a socially awkward person trying to do very social things: you have to try. Simply showing up can feel like the the most effort you can manage, but it will end badly if you don’t try, just like you’re likely expecting it to.
For the past year and a half, I’ve gotten a much better handle on social situations in general. It takes time and it takes a lot of effort, but I don’t find myself having a legitimate panic attack over leaving the house anymore. Now, I leave without a second thought, wondering why I ever thought it was that terrifying. Three years ago, I used to nearly cry if I had to order food for myself or if I was in Panera (one of my all-time favorite restaurants that I go to several times a month, so I definitely had the chance to be comfortable there) and my mom wouldn’t get up to get an extra napkin or pack of butter for me. It was that bad. Yes, there were times where I felt comfortable and I was able to act like myself, but those moments were fleeting and didn’t happen often enough.
I finally realized that I was far, far too old to be getting worked up over doing anything where I couldn’t hide behind my mother. I began putting myself out there more and more and it backfired quite a lot because I would do something out of my comfort zone, and not talk to anyone. I’d assume they hated me before they had a chance to get to know me, because I wouldn’t give them the chance to do so. I wanted friendship so desperately and was so unhappy that I couldn’t find it. I can see now that I was unapproachable and never made the first (or second or third or fourth) move, so of course no one wanted to talk to me. I grew tired of being so uncomfortable everywhere I went, so I changed it.
I’ve always been okay at one-on-one interactions, so I started there. I would make eye contact, ask them questions, and even seek people out to say hello or offer a friendly smile to. From there, I learned to be comfortable with myself in conversations enough to branch out to more people.
In the words of Joyce Meyer, “I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.” Now, I make decisions on my own to go to social events like bible studies because it’s scary, but can be so rewarding. And it was. That was one of the only social gatherings I have gone to where I left wanting more. I left feeling confident, not drained or embarrassed because I tried speaking up and said something dumb. Instead, I spoke up and thought, “that was good.”
In this bible study, one of the topics we discussed was the difference between happiness and fulfillment. To which I responded with something along the lines of, “happiness is finding joy in moments as they come, and fulfillment is being content overall.” And it’s true. I kept going to social gatherings with the hope that that would be the thing to bring me happiness; I kept looking to people to make me happy. In reality, I was looking at happiness all wrong. I’m not weird for feeling unsatisfied. I’m human. Humans always want more and we look for satisfaction in the things that bring momentary pleasure, rather than looking for what is best for us overall.
And of course, the only thing that will bring true fulfillment is God; keeping my eyes on Him rather than people or things or even myself. There is nothing else that I can rely on, because, as the pastor said later in the sermon, the stimulant will eventually become a depressant. When all that you do is not enough, you have to seek The One who is enough. The things that bring us happiness are not bad (within reason), but they mean nothing without God. When you separate the thing from God, that’s what brings dissatisfaction.
When I found my comfort in God, I found comfort in myself. And I was fulfilled.
Let me know what you think!