This time six months ago, I was waking up on my second day back in the U.S. after nearly-thirteen months in London. I was jetlagged, discouraged, unemployed, broke, heavily indebted, and quickly slipping into an understandable bout of situational depression. Two weeks later, I would have a new job, and a new chapter of my life, starting in Seattle. I couldn’t know that on September 13, 2013. I also couldn’t know that I’d be sitting here on March 13, 2014, still in Seattle, still working at that job, still heavily indebted, but much less discouraged, broke, or depressed.
I couldn’t know that my London levels of happiness and contentment would stay after I came back.
For those who met me when I lived in London, you saw a different personality than one most people knew before I arrived. Not unrecognizably different, but different nonetheless. I was incredibly driven, taking on far more than I knew I could handle, and succeeding at far more than I thought I could. I was adventurous, outgoing, and social, pushing past boundaries in my own mind to ensure that my One Year was also One Of The Best Years. I was also happy. I had this platform upon which my mood always stood, a platform higher than the baseline I had ever sustainably lived at before.
Traffic on the tube? Awesome! More time to listen to my music. Tourists on Oxford Street? Cool! Take some time to look at the architecture. Rain? Perfect! Scarves and hoods and some really good photo opportunities. Even hangovers (of which I had far mare per annum than any previous year) were seasoned with the typically-amazing memories of the night before. I was, in short, one of those annoyingly-happy people.
At least, on the average, inside my own mind, that was how I felt. I know that I had lots of struggles, lots of tears, lots of The Emotions and The Drama and even a bit of The Crazy for a while there. But I felt better than I ever have before.
Strangely, I still feel that way, in Seattle. Life, with it’s gains and losses, has put a slightly yellow tint on this happiness–the yellow of sunshine on the aged stones at St. Paul’s Cathedral–, but it’s still the London happiness. It’s the contentment of a life (at least in part) well-spent. It’s still a foreign feeling, but I’m learning that positive emotions are like happy tigers: best left alone.
I don’t know where my life will go in the next five years, or if my debt will ever be gone, or if I’ll ever have the work skills necessary to take my entire life back to the city that gave me this feeling. I do know I’m happy to spend this next five years paying down my debt and acquiring the work skills I’ll need to be successful in London, or anywhere, and being happy while I do it.
It shouldn’t be strange to say, but I really like being happy like this.