When I was seventeen, I thought I had a perfect life and spent the next few years feeling miserable, wishing I could have that life back.
I had spent my whole life growing up on Guam, surrounded by a huge family and a network of friends who loved me. I had a serious boyfriend (who was on the football team), I went to a good school (albeit a strict one) with smart girls, I had a best friend who lived a short drive away, I lived in the same house since I was a kid, and I could hang out with my cousins any time I wanted. My life was perfect.
Then during my junior year of high school, my parents decided to move our family to California. I tried to be happy all year, but towards the summer, I was miserable. When we finally moved, I wanted to die. I lost 10 lbs in the first month I was away from home. I cried myself to sleep every night for about a year, until I went back to Guam the next summer.
I used to resent my parents for not letting me go back to Guam, for taking me out of my perfect life on Guam right before I could experience my perfect senior year, for making me miss the year we won Songfest (I cried so hard when I watched the videos of my class’s awesome performance and had to miss it), and for making me miss out on senior prom with my boyfriend (I skipped out on my senior prom in Davis because I was too emo). I resented myself for not telling them earlier that I didn’t want to leave. Most of all, I resented everyone around me for not being my Guam friends and California for not being familiar. I made myself miserable.
I didn’t care about where I was and I decided I’d just go through the motions that year until I got to college. I didn’t make an effort to make any friends; I spent my lunch periods reading Harry Potter alone in a secluded area outside or studying for the SAT (but hey, I got a 1950 with no tutoring, plus straight A’s all year).
Then, before I started college, I got into another long distance relationship. I spent my whole first year of college feeling shitty about everything, wishing I could speed up time and graduate so I could go be with my “soul mate.”
It wasn’t until this year that I finally got over the misery I put myself through. After awhile, I realized that there was no point in being depressed just because I wasn’t back home. Sure, I miss my parents and siblings while I’m at school, I miss my cats, I miss my childhood friends, I miss my family back on Guam. But once I started focusing on what I do have rather than mourning what I don’t, I became so much happier.
I live in Isla Vista, California, where it’s around 70 degrees and sunny most of the time. I live within close walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. I have a handful of awesome friends who all live on the same street as I do. I get to study literature and film in an academic setting and get credit for having brainy discussions with my peers. I get to be a part of organizations I’m passionate about, and work with people my age who are passionate about the same things. I am surrounded by beautiful people, all the time.
All those things were true even through the depression I put myself through during my freshman year, but I didn’t care to acknowledge them. All I wanted was that one guy who lived on Guam who wanted me back.
But now I’m free. I’m finally at a place in my life where I am truly grateful for everything that happens to me (even if I happen to bitch about everything all the time, I don’t really mean it). I see other people I know complain about missing their significant others, complain about missing home, and it makes me sad and frustrated. You may not be in the place you’d like to be at the moment, but for now, you are still in a place full of blessings.
Don’t spend your time feeling bad about what you don’t have, because you’ll never be happy. I had moments of fleeting happiness sparingly for a few years, and I never want to go through that again. I also don’t want to see anyone else go through that either, because it’s the worst.
Instead, be happy. Choose to be happy. Make the choice to be grateful about the amazing life you have, and start by looking around at all the good things around you. It may not be perfect, but neither is the life you’d spend feeling empty, wishing for what you can’t have.