It all started with a bottle of shampoo and conditioner. Well, that’s not entirely true actually. Like many things it seems, it all started with Mike’s untimely death. Mike dying has altered my perspective so incredibly much in so many areas of my life but in this case, it felt like the issue was the measly shampoo and conditioner bottles. Anyways, probably shortly after Mike and I moved into our house I bought 2 big bottles of shampoo and conditioner. You know, those ginormous ones that last forever? I decided on a new kind this time that sounded pretty good. Well, guess what? After trying it, both of us hated it. The shampoo didn’t lather. It also didn’t spread very well. Both smelled nice in the bottle but lost it quickly when it was used. It left our hair dry and shineless. Quite frankly (and as Mike use to say), it was shit.
Regardless, we continued to use it. It was bought, past the returnable date and it was simply there. So Mike washed his hair with it and would call out from the shower about how terrible it was. I washed my hair with it and tried to use extra purely to get rid of it faster. Neither of us did what seems so glaringly obvious now - throw it out and buy new shampoo! We were two full-time working adults; we could have afforded new bottles. I recognize not everyone would be fortunate enough to have that choice but we did. Instead, we used that stupid shampoo and conditioner (and complained but did nothing) day in and day out.
After Mike died and I really couldn't think at all, I continued to use that shampoo and conditioner. I’m lucky my hair even got washed at all! However, as the days passed I went from being able to use the crappy set without thinking to barely being able to stand it. It would actually upset me but I couldn’t figure out why at first since nothing had changed with it. As I started to question and reflect more, it came to me: why am I using this when I hate it?! Why do I do things that make me unhappy?!
You’re probably thinking that this is a dramatic conclusion from a bottle of shampoo and in a way, it is. However, the unsettling question of, “why am I doing things I dislike?” resonated so much farther into my life. There is so much I have come to realize that I don’t have control over and never will. I can never change what happenned to Mike. I have to accept that some things are just the way they are. However, there are many aspects of my life that I can shape and determine so why should I let life just “happen” to me? I don't have to accept everything just because it's there or because it's been that way for a while. Since Mike died (and that shampoo bottle incident) I’ve started to become more conscious of things that make me happy and things that don’t. I don’t want to waste my time just going through the motions. I need to do more than just exist.
I guess you could say it’s part of the “life is short” cliche that I’ve been living. I think it is more than that though. Afterall, no matter how short life can be it will always be the longest adventure you ever have. It has to do more with the fact that I think my life and time is valuable. I will never get my time back and I want to use it the way I actually want doing things I actually want to do with people that I want to be with. Why should I waste my time and effort with what is easiest or just “there”? It might be easier but easy doesn't equate to happy. Sometimes happiness takes some effort and uncomfortable change.
How many times did I go along with things because that is the way I’ve always been doing it never really questioning how I actually felt about it? Or worse, knowing that I didn’t enjoy something but continuing to do it just because it was easiest? It can be simple things like using a bottle of shampoo or just the way I go about my day - what groceries I buy, what clothes I put on in the morning, what routines I follow, what I do after coming home from work. I followed some of those routines blindly not bothering or caring to stop and evaluate. In my most embarrassing example, I will admit that I use to clean my house every Saturday morning because, well, that’s what I had always done. I would turn down things I actually wanted to do because I “should” clean. But really, says who? Why would I say no to opportunities for fun to do something I didn’t want to do? It seems so ridiculous to me now. If you know me, you know I like a clean house but there’s no reason to have it on a schedule to do all at once when I hate doing it that way. And really, if my house is a little bit dirty for a few extra days, am I going to die?
Then there’s the harder things to change: the relationships and people that no longer serve me or make me happy. How many times did I stay friends with people that weren’t good to me or made me unhappy just because it was easier than expressing myself or walking away? How often do people stay in relationships when they're unhappy? Or stay working a job that they hate? It's not always easy changes to make. There might be difficult aspects to change, challenging decisions to make and feelings might get hurt. It requires you to be bold and take a chance on the unknown; two things I'm not always the greatest at doing. However, my motivation for prioritizing my happiness pushes me to try to take that risk. I only want good people and things in my life. If it brings me more stress than joy then it’s time to let it go. Now I can’t stand to do things, even small things, that I don’t enjoy. I can't just exist. I can’t go through life without thinking or doing things I “should” do. I want to be conscious and present in my decisions and life. It is soley mine, afterall. I alone have the ability to make myself happy.
And I plan to do that. To know that as Helen Keller once said, life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. My life, and yours, is certainly not nothing. You deserve to be happy. You are here to live. Have the courage to actually live it.