Happiness/Integrity: A year of change

We sat down and I told them my story, and they were willing to listen. Before high school, I never valued the concept of how much time is in a year and that it should be treasured. In the past it was always the same things every year with a new number tacked on. I had always talked to the same group of friends, and wore the same style of clothes, nothing was ever different.

The consistency that I was used to changed in October of 2015, and I found life at a new tempo. Sometimes you meet people and it feels like you’ve known them your whole life and that’s what it was like when I had met her. She had entered my life with almost no warning and she brought with her; change. It was subtle at first, but it was out with the old and in with the new. From then up until January of 2016, this new best friend would show me how to be happy.

Happiness is an odd and cruel complex, it is comprised of many different sides. One being true happiness from inside, and then it can be superficial, and I would learn to tell them apart. Through most of people’s teenage years, there’s a level naivety. Parents try so hard to give their kids advice and show wisdom. Looking back, I wish I had tried harder at following that advice. One day my mom had told me to share my joy and happiness with people who need it. I took that too seriously to the point where I pent up the other emotions, not to let them taint the happiness I wanted to spread. Another thing they told me, was to be careful of becoming attached to people romantically at a young age, because heartbreak is nothing a kid should experience. I wish I had listened to that as well.

Happiness is also a mask that people wear easily. It wasn’t until the person I had grown so attached to had left me that I realized i would soon be wearing that mask as well. I had put my secrets, my dreams, my life into her hands, and she let go. This was in January of 2016: Happy New Year. Every year had been the same, starting like the previous one ended, but I learned a new feeling, and that was hurt. When the person who supplied happiness was gone, I couldn’t handle the lack of it.
The emergence of the backed up emotions had put me not into depression, but what seemed like wandering, looking for who I was before all of it, but unable to find him. I spent countless nights staring into the nothing that was my gray ceiling in a state of repose. I slept with an open window in the dead of winter. I didn’t talk to my family much, What seems now like irrational decisions, would help shape the new me. Things were to change, and keep changing.

February and March were difficult months, filled with sleepless nights, but the changes did come. I had started to become good friends with many new people, and I started to pick up new hobbies as well. It was as if I was the newest version of an iOS and needed to update to run at a faster rate. That update completed on April 1st, 2016: A new hairstyle done by an actual stylist, which was alien to me. I was finally me again, or at least as close to it as I would get.

Spring came and with it, warm and refreshing weather just in time for track season. At the same time as track I was in the spring play, and in the midst of it all, I realized how happy I was. These activities distracted me from negativity, and I realized how important this integrity was. I was able to find my own happiness and I was who I wanted to be, and it was up to me to keep myself in check.

In late May of 2016 I went to Phoenix Arizona for two weeks to visit my brothers who I hadn’t seen in five years. It was pure joy to see them and all their kids and to feel the hot, dry west coast air. The city has its own vibe completely different from the small Dover Foxcroft town I was used to. There’s an actual feeling to the air. It’s heavy, never quiet, has a specific smell; it feels like another world. During the days and nights of exploring the city with my brothers I didn’t take the time to pay attention to what was happening at home.

During the last days of my visit, I was brought up to speed on all the drama revolving around my friends at home. While I was busy running around Arizona, life was moving on without me and I didn’t like this feeling. I didn’t like it at all. I was outside looking in, and had no impact on the things happening in their lives. And there were things that happened in people’s lives that made me sad, or angry and this feeling of being left out really made me homesick. The mindset that I would miss something important if I wasn’t there flooded and took over my thoughts, and would continue to stay with me. I came to realize that in reality, I hated letting go.
I returned home to possibly the most stressful and busiest couple weeks I had ever lived. I had a play the day I got off my flight, and the year was coming to an end. I was falling behind in a class, and if I had just dedicated myself to the work, I would’ve been fine. I instead wasted countless nights, hours of my life, scrolling through social media, trying to avoid sleep so I could always be in the knowing of anything. I’d sit and stare into the walls, hoping that people would need me and waste time by doing nothing. I failed a class that I’d have to retake the following year, something that I never saw myself having to do, all because I lost that integrity.
Summer was thoroughly enjoyable, very serene and relaxing. I kept busy with work, camp, enjoying friends and was able to rid my mind of wanting to be a part of everything. Instead, I spent nights in a kayak, floating on the moon lit surface of the lake, getting lost in the expanse of stars above. The days moved by, and closer came the start of my sophomore year. And then, I got a message from someone I hadn’t heard from all summer. She was coming back to me…

In a weird way, it lined up to mirror freshman year. The first month went by and I found myself in the thick of homecoming, and then with her again. October, I rediscovered that kind of happiness, and all seemed well. Lies can ruin someone though. In the year that I had changed, so did she, and it wasn’t positive change. Knowing that I was lied to about how someone saw me made me angry. I didn’t want to deal with them but I didn’t want to hate them and I didn’t know what to do. But someone was there to pick me up and tell me to suck it up, and I truly realized how important this person was to me.

I had met no one like them before, and I know I never would again. I befriended them in September of 2016, and it would be a friendship that lasts forever. In some way we connected, and the bond grew stronger and stronger as we learned about each other and related more and more. Funny, brilliant, and beautiful was this best friend who I knew I could always count on. December came, and with it, its great festivities. A Christmas celebration, the cold night lit up with the colors of the strung up decorations about the town. We talked and walked around for hours but were never bored, and we cleared our minds of all the negativity in our lives. We stood on the bridge, looking at the moon, and then they sang silent night to me in German. The bone chilling glorious melody that came from their mouth made everything seem to freeze, and time itself stopped to listen. In that moment I realized how far I had come in a years time. I grew to know the many sided die of happiness, and that you need to make room for your own happiness. And it takes heart and integrity to keep that happiness that makes a person who they are. Sometimes, in my case, you need that one person, to remind yourself of who you have become. All is calm. All is bright.


Author: Josh Whittemore

Maine ⚓️

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