When life is just starting to get great, I can't help but wonder, "Why can’t I let myself be happy"

Updated: Apr 16, 2019


Alicia has been asking me to guest post for months now, and now after months of silence and procrastinating, I finally have something to say, so here it goes…


Every

morning, when my Amazon Alexa wakes me, it’s impossible not to notice the eternal, genuine gratitude that starts percolating throughout my body. I thank the universe for keeping me alive and healthy, and for being my guiding light over the past couple years.


It has not been an easy journey but today, I can say that I have what a lot of young twenty-something-year-olds crave (and probably a decent amount of 30-40-and-50-something-year-olds-and-so-on crave too):


Stability.

A growing bank account. Opportunities to travel multiple times a year. An apartment decorated to taste. And, I get to wake up next to the man I love every morning and kiss him. Soon, we will be welcoming a fierce little pup named Linc into our young, budding family.


Then, there’s the most recent development: a brand new, glitzy job selling real estate in Philadelphia—a city that in addition to possessing an exciting housing market for me to start my career in, also offers plenty of theatre opportunities to latch onto.


Everyday,

on my way into the spry and youthful KW Philly office, located on the block of Bainbridge and Fitzwater, I get to walk down Broad Street, right past Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Kimmel, The University of the Arts, The Wilma.


All

of them.


Ok,

so you get it. I get it. We all get it—the list goes on.


My

life sounds like a utopia. I’m privileged, and I admit it. Everything on my vision board is coming true just like magic.


Yet,

here I am, going through a quarter-life crisis. A couple years prematurely—actually. I celebrated my 23rd birthday just over a week ago. I feel totally pathetic for admitting it. However, deep down I can sense my happiness won’t last long if I don’t address the black energy that’s swarming and amalgamating into something a lot of us know too well—Depression.


As

I walked back to my apartment one evening, a silent shouting match between logic and love was making my brain bleed. I couldn’t understand why these blue thoughts were starting, so I blamed myself.


Was

I trying to self-sabotage my newfound happiness and get in the way of my own success?


Logic

told me to stop questioning everything, to accept all the great things that are manifesting, and to relish in the present, because life going well for me for more than one day at a time is brand spankin new. This should be a joyous time.


But

love, on the other hand, warned me that all these great things will be meaningless and won’t sate my soul if I’m doing them for purely selfish reasons. That’s when this quote popped in my head by the great Russian theatre teacher and actor, Konstantin Stanislavski.


The quote reads, “Who am I? What will I be? Why am I here? Where am I going?”


Stanislavski

asked these questions of his students when they were presented with a role to take on. These questions help the actor identify the

Given Circumstances

in the play. Sometimes they’re easy to answer, because they’re

right there in black and white. For example, in Romeo

and Juliet, it’s clearly expressed that the Capulets and the

Montagues are sworn enemies, which is a given circumstance that the young lovers must face as they try to be together.


Other

times, however, it’s up to the actor to formulate his own justified answer by reading between the lines. For example, an actor playing Romeo might have a hard time knowing the reasoning behind why his character moves on from Rosaline so easily. Sure, she doesn’t

love him (that’s stated there, in black and white), but if Romeo loves her as much as he claims, one would expect him to grieve over heart break, but his actions don’t convey that. Or, do they? The answer is not so simple.


Sometimes

even when I’m not acting, I ask myself these same questions. My life’s given circumstances are written in my history, in my experiences, in my memories. As you can tell, the

Who Am I?

is a

fairly easy circumstance to identify, even if the answer

is comprised of a shitty or mixed-bag of history, experiences, and memories.


Right

now, I think I know the answer to Where am

I going? and

What will I be?, but—at the same time—I’m also flying towards

those answers blind. I can’t know what those answers are with more certainty until I identify that third question.


Why

am I here?


[Side

note: As you might be able to tell, not only do I suffer from depression, but also anxiety and have a tendency to overthink and over complicate everything, even depression.]


So

if you pair all these philosophical questions I’m asking myself, the lack of answers I’m able to generate, and a totally by chance conversation with an old college acquaintance, which I’ll get more into in a minute, together, you get something that is on equal

playing field of pure angel blood activating the Soul Sword in The

Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare—it’s led to complete chaos.


So

let me start this narrative over.


Every morning, when my Amazon Alexa wakes me, it’s impossible not to notice the eternal, genuine gratitude that starts percolating throughout my body. I thank the universe for keeping me alive and healthy, and for being my guiding light over the past couple years.

It has been a tumultuous journey. Today, I can say that I’ve survived what a lot of young twenty-something-year-olds have survived (and probably a decent amount of 30-40-and-50-something-year-olds-and-so-on have too):


Sexual

assault.


18

months ago, I was knee deep into an eclectic mix of denial and self-preservation after being raped in my dorm room a couple months before. The event occurred on a Saturday night in the middle of February.


Earlier that evening, I was on a date. It wasn’t a good date. All we had in common was that we both liked the entertainment industry. He liked lighting and sound, and I liked writing and acting. The conversation, though, was forced and awkward.

There was no spark.

No dancing. No flirty touches. I thought about leaving, but I was wrongly afraid of something happening if I walked back from the bar all on my own.


Because,

you know how the story goes: a girl walking down the street all by herself becomes the prime target for this type of thing. But there I was, sitting on a barstool next to him, having a harder time trying to figure out why I should accept a

second date offer

from him than I would if I were trying to build a fire with drenched wood.


That

night doesn’t matter so much anymore. After so many months of reliving those string of events, I can say that surviving my sexual assault became less about what Nick did and more about the way my case was handled.


When

I had the courage to report what happened, my school promised a chance at closure. An investigation. A hearing. An opportunity for an appeal, if needed. Maybe, just by dragging Nick through such a shitty process, it would ensure he never did that again.


That

he’d learn his lesson.


But

I don’t know if he did, because a week before the fall semester, the school dropped my case the same way a student throws away a paper with a bad grade on it—promptly, covertly, and full of shame.


This

is where I come back to the conversation I had with an old college acquaintance:


He

said I should sue. Get someone fired.


Take

it up with the president of the university.


Anything.


And

trust me, I’ve thought about demand letters or sending strongly worded emails with a lot of curse words and capital letters, but none of those seem like the right thing to do.


Maybe

because I know that all of those ideas would be like putting a bandaid on a broken arm. It won’t fix what’s broken.


I

spent months in therapy slugging through my secondary trauma, and I made peace with it. That inner peace is what allows me to hold a job and seek out my best life. I’m okay with the fact that I have a scar that sometimes festers and itches, because it’s so

minor to the gash it once was.


Here’s

what I’m not okay with: my story repeating all over again with a different survivor, and their beautiful soul believing that they don’t matter on their college campus.


This

is the very thing that makes me depressed—I don’t know how to approach this injustice and how to use my voice. That would mean, I would have to crack open that door of trauma again that I just closed.


It’s

safer to keep it closed.


But

perhaps, true, lasting happiness comes by taking a chance.


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