On Being Happy

I’ve been thinking about what the definition of “happiness” is lately – not in that Ancient Greek philosophical way that I had to write the hardest essay of my life on about 3 years ago, but rather what it means for me personally. While I’m generally a happy person in real life, as in, if you were ever to meet me, I’d be all smiles and laughs (not fake at all, I just don’t like to be negative around other people), I bet you’d probably think from my social media and from any stories you might hear about me that I was kind of miserable considering how I’m always moaning about being ill, about cars that pulled out in front of me on my way to work that morning, and about how hungry I am and getting cranky because of that!

But I definitely wouldn’t say I was an unhappy person, not in the slightest – actually, most of the things that I listed above are temporary and don’t affect me as a person, rather just my mood at the time. When I was a teenager, I imagine I thought I was depressed when in reality it was more just teenage angst brought on by things such as poor body image (like most teenage girls) and the pressures of school.

I’ve been through times where I haven’t been particularly happy in my workplace, such as when I was teaching – although I could have loved the actual teaching part, I was ill during that time with my gallbladder and was under far too much pressure for someone who had never so much as had a day’s teaching experience or even qualification when I had my first week there. I was given 5 year groups to teach full time, two of which were Sixth Form, and one class even had a girl applying to Oxbridge for my subject – if that isn’t pressure for an unqualified teacher, I don’t know what is! Thrown in on top of that, looking back I’ve realised that the relationship I had with my overall school mentor, the person I was supposed to turn to if I was feeling overwhelmed or needed any help, was awful (my Head of Department was lovely however). I’d go so far as to say it was extremely unprofessional and a bully, considering that she criticised my demeanour around the school (apparently she’d seen me walking around the day before with my head tucked in my coat looking like I was going to cry – actually it was minus 5 degrees and snowing, and my face goes red when I’m cold!) and commented on my weight and body shape, telling me I was far too skinny and should eat some proper meals over Christmas despite the fact that I was at that time very ill with the gallbladder and unable to put on weight. Not only that, but the comment on my weight was made during a meeting with 3 other student teachers plus 2 independent examiners there that day to inspect us – it had no relevance whatsoever to anything being said at the time and was seemingly only meant to put me at a disadvantage.

Anyway, that wasn’t meant to go into a huge rant, but I’ve never properly shared a lot of the reasons I decided to leave teaching. However, during that time we lived in a lovely little cottage in a gorgeous part of the country. Ben and I often think back to it now and have even talked about how, in future, we’d like to return to that area since it was so beautiful. I’d worried when we left that area that I would grow to dislike it since I would associate it with a time of my life that was unhappy – I spent a lot of my time when we lived there worrying that I wouldn’t have everything prepared on time, that I was an inadequate teacher and I was very ill for much of the time – but fortunately I don’t, phew.

I do sometimes worry when things are going well though – I always, somewhat superstitiously, wonder what’ll happen to bring it back down (and now I’m worrying because I’ve just expressed that sentiment!). Currently, I’m really happy in my job and everything seems to be going well. When I left teaching, I really didn’t know what direction my life was going to go. Before I got my job at the school, you might remember I’d actually been accepted onto a Masters course in Museum Studies, but I turned it down in favour of a job I thought would work for me. When it didn’t, I considered applying for a Masters again, but it would have meant funding was slightly more difficult then, plus we’d just got used to a life where we actually had some income between us and we weren’t prepared to go back to the student life again. Instead, I thought about this blog and the skills I’d learnt from it. I’ve always loved writing and happily do it in my free time so copywriting came into my head. I emailed quite a few local companies, focusing on PR ones, to see if they needed anyone on any basis, freelance, part time or otherwise. Bronco, where I currently work, was one that stood out to me as a fantastic company, and I had my fingers crossed when that email went out, not really thinking they’d get back to me though. In fact, a few came back which was surprising, but I had an interview (chat, really) at Bronco and before I’d even properly handed my notice in at the school, I’d accepted a job there.

It’s a career path I’d never considered for myself when I was younger. I’ve always been academic rather than creative (aside from writing) or sporty, so my interests always carried me down those routes. I’d wanted to use my degree in something that was relevant and related to Classics, but there just aren’t that many jobs out there that aren’t teaching for that! So it took me looking at my skills in a broader sense to find out what I could do and considering jobs that I’d always thought were amazing but had never really thought could do.

And as a company, we’ve evolved since I’ve been there, our emphasis has changed as has my role. While I was brought in initially for SEO and outreach as well as some content writing, we’ve moved more into the PR side of things, established a new team that I’m part of and that has grown, and is really pretty creative! For example, just yesterday I sent out this picture on Instagram showing something we’ve been working on lately (#BeardChicks) that I just couldn’t believe was actually part of my job, because, well it’s awesome and aren’t grown up jobs supposed to be “boring” and “uninspired”?!

But in reality my job and financial well being isn’t the be all and end all of the happiness in my life. In fact, I think it’s the smaller things everyday that make that difference, hence why I don’t think back to our cottage when I was teaching as being an unhappy place, because good small things happened there such as weekend trips into the nearby town of Richmond which is gorgeous, walks in the countryside nearby on snow days (which we had quite a few of up there!) or simply just drives out exploring the area which is actually not that far from where we grew up but we knew little about.

Now we’ve got our new house underway, moving in just 2 weeks’ time, although that’s a pretty big thing I suppose!
I discovered a new drink from Costa I like, and was brave enough to order something that’s technically a custom drink – a Mocha Latte with hazelnute syrup. Okay, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I don’t like coffee, so I feel “grown up”, and also I panic at doing anything that’s different, so ordering something new makes me panic for no apparent reason, so doing so is a big step for me!
We discovered a new range of towels that are so much softer than any we’ve found before (they’re the George at Asda Pima towels, if you wondered!); we’ve since been to multiple shops to see if we can find any as good elsewhere, and we can’t!
One of our local pubs has rebranded into a steakhouse and grill which was amazing last time we went, so we’re taking the fam tonight.
So you see, it’s the small things that are making a difference for me at the moment. If you’d have told 16 year old me that at 24 I’d be happy in a job that’s nothing to do with my academic studies at all and I get to take photos of myself wearing cut out beards, plus I’m rambling on a blog about how finding super soft towels makes me happy, she’d probably scowl at you and walk off. In fact, I’d probably do that now if it wasn’t my owning ramblings that brought this into my mind!

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