[For the record: PMA thoughts = very few. Children smiled at = none. Old people chatted to = zero. Affect on my life so far = negligible.]
I was at work the other night, half way through the Saturday shift. I walked into the kitchen (correction: I skidded into the kitchen with a pile of plates in one hand, a food order in the other, the boss yelling at me from the bar, and a small child colleague under my feet) and the chef said: "Are you happy Debs?"
"That's a loaded question," I said.
Cue chorus of groans from the sweaty kitchen boys. "You're so grumpy." "You're never happy." Etc etc.
"Now wait a minute,"I said. " You asked if I'm happy. I consider that a rather ridiculous question, all in all. The question should be: 'What IS happiness?' If you're asking me whether I'm happy right now, right in this moment, then, well, no. Of course I'm not. I'm working for minimum wage selling beer to drunk people. I am single, 35, barely making my rent. I'm a size 12. I'm afraid I'm wasting my potential. What if I never finish my book? What if I never find The Guy who will make me feel safe and secure. And is good in bed? What if I never get over my dad's death? What if I can never, ever, ever shake the feeling that I'm never quite good enough, that things are always off kilter, than I'm doing it WRONG somehow? So, no. I'm not HAPPY.
"I am, however, happy with certain things in my life. My friends, for example. I genuinely have a collection of amazing friends. There's the inner circle of pseudo family, the outer levels of fun time friends, the ones I just see in the pub... all of them bring different (usually ace) things to my life. I'm happy with my face. Ish. I like my hair. I like immersing myself in creativity so it takes me away from stuff. I love the fact that I have discovered running. My cat makes me smile. A coffee makes me happy.
"I guess, to me, happiness is transitory. It's momentary times. It's the random night out where you laugh till you cry and get just the right level of drunk and everything is suffused in a warm glow. Or it's having a conversation with someone that totally opens your mind to a different way of thinking. Or it's completely something that was hanging over you. Or flirting with someone who makes you smile. Smoking a cigarette after sex. Having an orgasm. Reading an awesome book. Telling your ma you love her.
"THOSE are the things that make me happy in that moment. Don't ask me to believe that there is some state of 'happiness' that people revel in every single day of their lives. Because that's bullshit. It's propping up the self for outward appearances. I know people who on the outside are soooo damn happy. But behind the Facebook pictures and the smiles, there's bitterness, regret and secret unhappiness.
"Don't give in to the pressure to be 'happy' all the time. It's balls. If you can spend every day doing one thing that you don't hate. If you can see or speak to one person who makes you smile or feel connected. Hell, if you can get out of bed and face the day even though you're broken hearted, or ill, or lonely, or anxious, then you're doing well. But for jaysus sake, be honest with yourself.
"So, yeah, in summary. Right this second I'm OK. Once i'm off work tonight I'll be a bit happier."
By this point the chef had left the conversation.
I think he just wanted me to say yes.