Back in September, I wrote about A Perfect Life that I was fantasizing about. At my latest therapy appointment, Sadie brought up this checklist and we talked through which parts I was making progress toward and which parts had fallen by the wayside. There were many areas where I said, “That’s never going to happen” and Sadie pointed out that I was placing a lot of limitations on myself.
We talked through some of the bigger items that I said would never happen and why I felt that they were impossible. When it came to the smaller ones, like wearing my own handmade cardigans and chainmaille jewelry, I could give no explanation other than that I was unsure I really wanted that. In reading The Happiness Project recently, the author’s first commandment for herself was “Be Gretchen”. The point was to do things because they made her happy, rather than because she felt they ought to make her happy.
The example from my own life which I shared with Sadie was scrapbooking. My grandmother created dozens of scrapbooks. One for each of my years in school. One for each vacation we took to Walt Disney World. She collected all sorts of mementos to scatter among the photos. After she was gone, I collected the same sort of bits and bobs from all my vacations, but they languished in my hanging file rack, doing nothing but making me feel guilty. I finally realized a few months ago that, no matter how much I felt I “should” make scrapbooks like grandma did, the reality is that I never will. It’s not consistent with the idea of Being Donna. So I threw all those folders full of papers in the recycle bin.
This is the problem I encountered with my perfect life scenario. I genuinely don’t know what makes me happy. I mean, I guess everything in it made me happy at one point, but there’s so much in there that I can’t realistically do it all, and I’m not sure what elements are most important to me. Sadie encouraged me to revisit my checklist and give further thought to what I actually want, ultimately rewriting the whole thing. Then the goal would be to take small steps toward accomplishing these things.
One of the big items we discussed was traveling internationally for charity work. We identified that this was actually three things. Traveling, going outside the country, and doing charity work. I have some issues with the first two due to some ridiculous anxieties, so Sadie suggested I start with charity work close to home. Perhaps a mental health charity. In fact, why don’t I try the NAMI Walk happening on May 9th, for which there were flyers in the mental health center’s waiting room? I had been looking at these flyers for weeks, and never picked one up, but on my way out that day I grabbed one.
It took me two days to convince myself, but today I registered for my local team. I’m not going to link to my individual fundraising page, as it uses my real name, but I encourage you to go to the website linked in the previous paragraph and sign up for your local walk, or donate to a team in your area.