“Your blog is so positive now.”
She didn’t mean it as an insult, or even a compliment, really. She was just stating a fact, one I should have been glad to hear since I’ve made a conscious decision to focus on positivity online and in life. But I cringed.
Comments about being positive or happy quite often trigger a bizarre defensive reaction in me. I assume my sincerity is being questioned and worry that an upbeat outlook is annoying. No one, I fear, likes a happy girl.
Of course, that’s not true. I, for one, love a happy girl. I like being happy more than I liked being unhappy. I prefer happy people to miserable company. Incessant snark makes me weary.
But that doesn’t seem to be the norm. In our collective minds, reality has become intrinsically linked with disappointment and tragedy. A happy ending is dismissed as being too unlike real life, too idealistic to be believable. The happiest girl in the room is mocked for being too perky, too out of touch, too fake to connect with.
“Something’s just not right,” we say. “I don’t trust anyone that’s happy all the time.”
I’m haunted by my own words now, my own mistrust of pleasant people. Surely, I believed, all that smiling and positive talk was covering up an ugly truth – a truth more like the reality with which I was familiar.
No one, I was sure, likes a happy girl.
But I am happy.
The defense leaps to my lips and my fingertips the instant I hear or read an observation on my — or anyone’s — cheerful tone. I am happy. I’m not lying. My need to convince is startling and rings my own warning bells. Am I really? Am I hiding? Am I covering up the grittiness of living?
The truth is that I am not happy all the time. No one is. I have just decided that I will focus more on the moments of joy than on the moments of despair. I will feed the fire of bliss and starve the inner gremlin of fear. I will cry when I need to cry, but I will make note of laughter knowing that we multiply what we celebrate.
The reality is that happiness is not always easy. It is easier to slip into commiseration and biting quips. There is camaraderie to be found in picking at oneself and on one another. Sinking into pettiness is effortless, while choosing a smile can require force.
But it is, I believe, a force for good.
I chose to start writing about happiness because this is a permanent mark I’m leaving on the world. My words, both spoken and written, have an impact. They affect me and those closest to me. They add to the overall color of who we are. For better or worse, whichever I choose, they matter.
No, life is not always easy. It is filled with tragedy as well as joy, a fact I’m as familiar with as anyone. I know death and loss and grief. I know heartbreak and bad decisions. I know sorrow of my own making and devastation beyond my control. And that, perhaps, is why I’ve chosen an active pursuit of happiness.
No one likes a happy girl, except for other happy girls and boys, men and women who are not ignorant of the ways of the world but who choose to court joy instead of defeat. It is from them that I want to learn, with them that I want to paint my legacy. I want not only to find happiness, but to be comfortable with it, confident in it, and completely unafraid of who does or does not like a happier me.
And so I will continue to smile, despite my fears and insecurities.
Because I love a happy girl.