Apparently I come across to some people as being unhappy. As near as I can tell, the consensus in some circles is that I spend my days obsessed with blaming my misery on the religion I no longer practice, when I should just realize that I’m unhappy because I have problems.
Of course, all of this relies on the assumption that I’m unhappy.
I am not.
I’ve probably written about this before, but as I’ve grown older, my conception of happiness has changed, and I realize that being happy means being comfortable and at peace with who you are. For a variety of reasons (some related to Mormonism, but that was just a part of it), I was never satisfied with where I was in life, and I never felt like I was good enough; if anything, my obsession was with self-improvement, with proving to myself, God, and whomever else, that I was good enough, smart enough, and–doggone it–people liked me. On the inside, however, I was filled with self-loathing; I remember feeling that if people knew the “real me” inside, they would be horrified. So, I looked outside myself for validation, and as I noted recently, when I went through my crisis of faith, I was overly concerned with getting that validation from other people.
I don’t think life got any better until I finally realized that I didn’t need approval, understanding, or validation from other people. I just needed to be OK with myself. In the immortal words of the poet Edgar A. Guest:
But here in this struggle for fame and pelf,
I want to be able to like myself.
And I do like myself. The person I am–the natural man, if you will–is not a bad person or unworthy, let alone an enemy to God. It’s just me, and I’m happy with me.
It’s a good place to be. I’m a new grandparent, and life could not be better.
ETA: Now this song is stuck in my head.