It’s Not Always About Happy

We think of “happy” as good and every other emotion as not as good. Here’s what I learned today: being real is good, whatever “real” is.

The world isn’t broken. It’s made up of pieces that fit together quite neatly.
Eggshells, watercolor paint on watercolor paper.

I went to lunch with a new friend who feels like an old soul and a good friend already. She shared sad news with me, and I felt tears start up over her suffering. We chatted a bit about the blog, and then I told her about something I felt bad about–petty behavior on my part. How hard it is to give up envy, pettiness, and feeling bad about it.

She was supportive and understanding. I felt heard. And I suddenly realized the truth of Brené Brown’s quote:

A 12-year-old’s wisdom on fitting-in vs. belonging: “If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, it’s fitting in.”

At that lunch table, with this kind woman, I belonged to the group of flawed human beings who are working on themselves. It made my day.

It’s good not having to be perfect, or pretending. It’s hard enough work just being me. Being appreciated for that felt like a blessing.

Put down the perfection mirror and just show up. It does a soul good.

–Quinn McDonald is an art journaler and writer. She’s working on a book on the Inner Critic.

30 thoughts on “It’s Not Always About Happy

  1. Before heading into what might well be one of the most exciting days of my life, I decided to take a stroll through some of the many blog posts here that I’ve missed over the last few incredibly busy weeks. I think I was looking for some form of calm to hold onto and take with me today. I’ve found that, and so much more here this morning.

    Most importantly, there’s a recognition that for about the last six months I’ve been living as my authentic self for the first time in almost two decades and have never felt happier, more joyful, more hopeful, more fulfilled, or more at peace. And yes, Quinn, never have I felt more “treasured” by such a large community of generous, gracious people! Such great blessings for a 69-year-old woman who was raised to “fit in” and spent much of her life resisting that without understanding why. That particular inner battle is over.

    I now start most days with tears welling in my eyes from gratitude and in joyful anticipation of whatever events will come my way. Even the disappointments now have softer edges and lessons more clearly seen and learned.

    Thank you, dear Quinn.

      • I won’t deny doing the work, but your thoughtful blog posts help bring me clarity and better understanding of what I’ve accomplished.

        Whew. Have just returned home from a long, tiring, absolutely thrilling day, which for the most part lived up to my highest hopes. It was, indeed, one of the most exciting days of my life, and one that most likely would never have occurred had I not been prepared by being authentic.

          • Would be delighted. Just wasn’t sure it would be OK to do so, but since you already knew what I would be doing, I guess it is!

            I was lucky enough to be one of about 20 campaign volunteers across southwestern Colorado invited to meet Michelle Obama yesterday. Speaking of being authentic, she was totally genuine–no airs, no self-importance–and full of gratitude and encouragement to us for our work at the grass-roots level. And she gives great hugs, too!

            Lest anyone take issue here with what might be perceived as a political statement, I can’t imagine anyone of any political leanings who wouldn’t be thrilled to meet the First Lady of the United States. In fact, when Barbara Bush was First Lady, adult literacy was one of her passions, and I was co-cordinator of such a program in California. We invited her to visit and help us kick off our local adult spelling bee. Even though Mrs. Bush and I are polar opposites politically, it was so exciting to meet her and be able to spend almost an hour with her!

            Yes, I feel so blessed in many ways, and I am so very grateful to live in a country where I have the opportunity to make a difference.

          • I try hard to let people say what they need to say here. I’ve left us several scolding and insulting replies (they say more about the writer than about me) as well as well-argued views that totally oppose mine. I will strike anything that is hateful, racist, violent or blatantly self-promoting. (Occasionally people write half a phrase about the blog, then link to their own site. Nope.) But I did want people to see this story, both for your experience and for your joy.

  2. Thank you very much for this, Quinn. I have been struggling quite a bit with perfectionism lately, so this really resonated with me. It was a necessary reminder that being real, and being me, is far better than trying get things “right” all the time.

  3. Amen, Quinn. Here, here! And you know, in my own little bubble, the practice of sitting down mindfully every day and JUST SITTING (not trying to change anything) has really made a difference. It’s (slightly) easier to see that it’s OK that things aren’t always gonna be “rainbows and unicorns.” I mean, if we don’t have the bumps in the road, how can we appreciate those moments of smooth sailing, right? I love sitting in all of life’s craziness (and in the middle of my own imperfection) and just saying “yup.” And then following the next breath. And the next. Breathe. Return.

    • No wonder you are such a wonderful musician. Completely stopping and just being is vital to fill the creative well. When I first started to meditate, my son would ask me, “What are you doing?” and I’d say, “Listening.” And he would say, “To what?” and I’d say, “Life.” I also pray this way. I like to listen to what shows up.

  4. When I see the girls in a classroom, the ones that I worry about are all the ones desperate to fit in – as if it was a desirable goal!
    And isn’t it wonderful how deep connections can be made so quickly with some people? Perhaps because they’re authentic – here I am, flaws and all.

  5. Great post, Quinn. Perhaps some of us, or even many of us ‘know’ this truth in our hearts or minds, but it is so difficult to live it. It is important for audacious women like yourself to ‘say’ it out loud so that others can say ‘me too’ and be freed to follow their truths. Good for you, and thank you. It is important to be reminded that, although we prefer the Light, all light produces shadows, and so it is with the mind and spirit. There are dark thoughts, dark feelings, dark days in all lives, and these we MUST share so that others have the opportunity to say ‘me too’. Unity is everything.

  6. I am reading Brene Brown’s book right now, such an eye opener, and kind of a relief. i’ve looked for that elusive “happy” much of my life, but I think “real” is connected to the really important stuff.

  7. Here’s to the crazy ones.
    The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
    The round pegs in the square holes.
    The ones who see things differently.
    They’re not fond of rules.
    And they have no respect for the status quo.

    You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
    disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
    About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
    Because they change things.
    They invent. They imagine.
    They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
    They push the human race forward.
    Maybe they have to be crazy.

    How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
    Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
    Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
    While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

    Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
    are the ones who do.

    (Advertisement for Apple Computer,
    snitched – without attribution – from the writings of Jack Kerouac)
    looking forward to belonging…

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