We hugged tightly after an inspiring evening over Pizza and juice. Saying goodbye knowing that we had just experienced one of those unique moments in life you don’t get to have often. We had only met three hours earlier for the first time. And it was one of those encounters in life that are inexplicable. Intense. Raw. True. Magical.
“Moments like this make me fall in love with life”, she said. And then my heart started to sing.
I was born into a place of great hope (hence the name my parents gave me) – but also a place of great despair, fear and negativity. For me, I thought, life would always be under a dark cloud. In the cycle my family lived in for decades. Growing up with the curse of always expecting the worse, not trusting, closing your heart and being afraid of living. I held my head down. I didn’t dare to look up. I didn’t dare to raise my voice. I didn’t think anyone would listen. I didn’t think I had something in me that was worth being heard. At the same time I had this whole world inside me, growing, getting bigger and bigger. It needed so much more room. It needed to spill. It needed to be seen. Most of all I needed to know I could find it inside of me to live happily no matter my circumstances. Because nobody told me I could. Some kids learn that early on because they are surrounded by healthy love. I had to teach it to myself – that a happy life is my choice.
One day, I remember it clearly. I was sitting on the edge of our bed, after an ugly fight with him. Tears leaving shiny rivers on my face. My whole body stiff with anger and pain. It hit me. Those things I said. Did. I had seen them before. I knew this. This was familiar. I was taught to be like this. And right there and then, I decided to brake the cycle.
Although at the age of 20 I never thought this would be possible, with every year I grow, I get happier and happier. A few years ago I wrote in my journal: How can I be any happier than this? How can it get better than this?
And yet, it did. It does. Today, I’m feeling an overwhelming sense of happiness inside. Bigger, wider, deeper, stronger than ten years ago.
Not because everything is great. Not because I don’t struggle and my life is perfect. Not because I’m oblivious to what is happening around me. I still feel too much and I can’t breathe under the weight of this world sometimes. I still cry over things I cannot change, over people I cannot save – and I’m learning how to not let it break me.
But my attitude is different. My heart is in a different place. My happiness is not connected to anything on the outside anymore. I don’t need a perfect marriage to be happy, I don’t need a house, kids, I don’t need a big bank account, a million friends or Instagram followers, I don’t even need health or the perfect body or a successful business to be happy.
All of these things are beautiful and amazing. And they are a huge gift to have. They contribute to our state of being. But they are not the requirement for happiness.
Happiness is not superficial and it doesn’t mean you’re always smiling, ignoring your bills and the world news.
How can I explain it? I feel it so strongly but it’s so hard to describe.
Happiness feels like a deep rooted freedom. Like there’s a blazing fire inside. A light that doesn’t go out. A gust of wind that carries you. It’s light. Strong. Liberating.
And that can only come from real love.
When you live out of a place of love, then life is beautiful. And it gets more beautiful, when you believe it is. It’s all about the belief system in our minds and what we decide to focus our energy on.
I’m more in love with this life of mine than ever, I’m happier than I have ever been. Nothing is perfect. Nothing will ever be. I’m not perfect, my marriage is not, my health is not, my business is not, my relationships are not, my family is not – but I am happy.
Being in love with life, choosing it every day, makes me more excited for what’s to come. No matter what it is, good or bad, I have a new way of looking at things. And I know that it is the cracks that let the light shine through.
Sometimes it feels like I don’t have any more room inside – and then I feel my heart stretching and my life stretching, expanding – to make room for more. More life. More love. More happiness.
Yesterday I celebrated a new year of life. And it made me think how life is like a bottle of wine or a wheel of cheese. Getting better, tastier, fuller, richer, with every year that passes.
Sometimes I wish I could tell that 10 year old Nadia whose soul just fell apart, that little girl who’s wondering. If she will ever belong. If she will ever feel loved. If she will ever be heard. If she will ever be happy.
You will, little one. You will be all of those things and much more. It gets better. So much better.