Letter #105

Content Warnings: Anxiety, Depression


I once read online that around 50% of our happiness is genetic, 40% by circumstances and actions, and 10% by our own mindset. And it terrified me.


My family has a history of mental illness, and I’ve already begun seeing some red flags in myself. Some of their unhealthy coping mechanisms have already been imprinted on me, from escapism to self-isolation.


I’ve tried reading self-help books and have tried meditation, but none of the effects seem permanent. I might be at peace with myself for a day, then after a long streak of days, I lose the energy to help myself again. The only thing keeping me running and living is an endless hamster wheel of stress.


Is it just part of growing up? As a kid, I had a million things I wanted to do: write a book, live in a forest with ten cats, be a doctor, move across the world. I thought as I grew older, I would naturally gain the skills needed to do all of these things. But I’ve underestimated the effort it takes to even afford an apartment or stay in school. How would I avoid writer’s block enough to finish a book? How would I get the money to support ten cats? How would I pay off my medical school loans? How would I be able to move around the world and make friends, if it already took years to make the few I have now? 


All the goals I thought I had, the things I believed would define my future self, have become dust in the back of my mind. I’m not even working towards anything in particular anymore; I’m just blindly working to stay afloat in this infinite sea of tasks, school, and society’s expectations. 


Science says that, perhaps, I could only be 50% happy at most, even if my internal state and my outside circumstances were ideal. 


But maybe it doesn’t matter. Journaling these few paragraphs, with my window open to the breeze and with the mourning doves cooing, has already made me happy. My happiness might not be permanent—but, even if just for today, I am going to allow myself to be happy.

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