Do any of these sentiments sound familiar to you? Have you ever found yourself thinking and believing these exact thoughts or something along these lines? Well, my friend, you might just be an addict.
Let me explain.
Not too long ago, I stumbled across something appropriately dubbed "Destination Addiction" which is essentially the preoccupation of the idea that your happiness is somewhere else, leading you on a perpetual search for it. I remember thinking, well, of course, we're all on the search for happiness, it's the grand pursuit after all!
After a bit of reflecting (and a tad more research), I realized the glaring issue with the concept of "Destination Addiction"- it's victims live their lives in a state of "not now" causing them to be psychologically absent, disregarding the contents and elements of their present lives, good and bad. It puts the idea of happiness on this incredibly high pedestal, and as we seemingly get closer and closer, the pedestal gets higher, more unattainable. Why is that? Because happiness is not a destination, it's a choice.
I'll admit, I grew up in the throes of Destination Addiction. It all started when I was about 12, when I began to harbor this intense daydream that happiness was far away from my hometown, my school, my peers, and instead located in some far away city. I distinctly remember watching planes pass by in the sky when I would take my dog for a walk, and think I would do anything to be on that plane. I had convinced myself that happiness was something far away, and it had to have a different zip code.
During these years, I discovered my love for fashion and style, which created a very specific "happiness destination" for myself: An illustrious career in New York City. That would just HAVE to lead to happiness, right? It was never a question in my mind, it was an answer. Once I moved to New York City and started making my way into the fashion industry, I would be happy.
I lived with this "destination" ingrained into the back of my mind through my entire duration of high school following into my freshman year of college. It was like a safety blanket, a comfort knowing that I may not be happy now, but I would be in the future when I finally made it to NYC. There was little to no doubt in my mind. Admittedly, thinking this way caused me a lot of sadness, a lot of impatient anticipation that harmed not only me but others around me. I didn't allow myself to enjoy simple moments of pleasure, or appreciate things I should have stopped and taken a moment to acknowledge. My intense forward-seeking ego seemed like a logical, sensible approach, but it was actually detrimental. I lived for the future and stopped caring about the present. Anything going on in my life that didn't actively contribute to my "destination" was thrown into a subconscious folder in the back of my mind.
Fast forward to present day. I've lived in New York City for two years now, and have worked in incredible professional positions that have exposed me to aspects of the fashion industry that my destination-obsessed younger self could only dream of. It's undeniable that I am a happier, better version of myself in New York, but the nagging feeling of something's missing has been silently gnawing at my soul. I had finally reached my destination, now what?
I started creating new destinations for myself, one after the other.
Once I meet the perfect person, I'll be unstoppable.
Once I get a nicer apartment and a dog, everything will feel right.
If I can just lose 10 more pounds, I know I'll finally be happy.
I am constantly in a state of assessing the future, trying to put my finger on exactly what I need to reach in order to achieve happiness. It hit me like a ton of a bricks the other day- according to the old Ashtyn, I should be happy right now. So why wasn't I?
I was not choosing to be happy. I was choosing to find reasons NOT to be happy.
Essentially my message is this- choose to find happiness in your life. You may not be in an ideal place, but if you look hard enough, you can find something to be happy about, something to be grateful for. Happiness is not a destination, it's an active choice that requires constant evolution.
To the little girl who wistfully used to watch airplanes in the sky and dreamed of her own job and cute little apartment in New York City, you finally got it. Appreciate it, acknowledge it, and accept happiness.