In Search of Happiness

Everyone has always told me that happiness is a choice, that it’s as simple as waking up every morning and deciding to be happy. I’ve always wanted to believe them. As a girl I struggled with multiple mental disorders, mostly anorexia and anxiety issues. How convenient would it be to just simply wake up in the morning and be truly happy? So over the last couple years that’s what I have done. I’ve reclaimed my body to a state I’m almost proud of, I’m in a healthy relationship with a man I love and I’ve been working towards happiness. I thought that being happy was the absence of being sad and since I am no longer sad that must mean I’m happy! For a long time now it seems I’ve been existing at a melancholy state. I wake up every morning, feed my dog and cats, pour myself a cup of coffee and browse the internet until I’m ready to get my day started. But there’s no excitement, no motivation to do anything more than that. To be fair, my life is pretty interesting. I have regular adventures, I go on weekend trips, and I almost always planning some sort of journey, I go to exciting new places and meet a lot of fascinating new people on my photoshoots. But I always felt like something was missing. Happiness for me always felt like it was on the surface, I could laugh and smile and pose for the photos but it never went any deeper than that. I would get tired very quickly and feel drained of energy by the end of the day as if I was putting on a show. I wondered if I had always been this way, if that happiness I thought I felt as a little girl was just an illusion, if I were ever actually that carefree wild child I thought I was.

Then one day I woke up. I was in a good mood; my weekend was just getting started. I had no plans, nothing to worry about, it was a beautiful day. My boyfriend and I took a day trip to Santa Cruz, we road our longboards downtown, ordered fruity drinks (and the worst churro of my life), and walked on the beach. I laughed as he lifted me onto his shoulders and ran through the waves, we ate delicious food and played cheesy arcade games. We’ve had plenty of days like this, picturesque moments together, but something felt different this time. I realized sitting there on the beach, building a sandcastle and listening to the waves that it was me that was different. The laughter wasn’t just on the surface, it wasn’t just the Mai Tai’s and the Martini’s that were making me feel all bubbly inside. It was at this moment that I had a revelation, I could be happy. I went home that night exhausted; not because I was putting on a show all day, because I was running away from the waves, and wandering around town, laughing and having fun.

The rest of my weekend continued in a similar way, we went to the lake with some friends. They anchored their boat and we hung out floating in the water, the sun was high and the water actually felt warm to me. I finished my ‘Straw-ber-rita’ and had a very sudden urge to go for a swim, everyone that knows me knows that I don’t swim and I definitely don’t get my hair wet. I did both that day. This was another one of those moments for me where I realized that I was honestly, deeply happy. I don’t know what changed or how it happened, but what I do know is that if you wake up every morning with the intent to be happy then out of nowhere happiness might just find you. It might take months, or years in my case but eventually it will hit you and you’ll understand what’s been missing all this time. I finally remembered how I felt when I was a little girl, skipping around on the beach, running away from the waves and building castles in the sand. I want to live the rest of my life honoring that little girl in me, the sandy-haired wild child with a never-ending spirit for adventure.

Photographer: Brock Sanders @shotwithfilm
Model: Chelsea Nicolette