This deviates a little from my normal posts of art and inspiration, but I felt it was time to get a little personal. I'm just going to dive right in.
So I have a dilemma. My dilemma is that I live in one of the coolest cities in the world (Chicago), and I kind of hate it (okay more than kind of). It's funny (and by funny I mean terrible) because I find joy and beauty in so many things....city living just isn't one of them. I feel way too vulnerable. Too exposed. The constant noise--people yelling, music blaring, sirens screaming--overwhelms me. I can't even begin to say how much I miss dark, peaceful nights. And the smell. That no matter where you go it smells like garbage, filth, sewage, or some combination of all three makes it so hard to enjoy a good deep breath. I walk around with my shoulders tense. I catch myself grinding my teeth. It stresses me out to no end. When I go out I try to work my best Bitch Face, but for some reason my bitch face screams "please, come tell me that I have a butt like Beyoncé" (not really what I'm going for). Strangers love to talk to me in the city, too, I've been told because I "look too approachable". I have a creep magnet like no body's business. It's rare that I walk down the street and someone doesn't say something weird to me. More than once strange men have asked to touch me (which I guess was nice that they at least asked...). Once I was followed through a park by a man who asked if he could french braid my hair, repeatedly complimented my butt, and then told me the ways he was planning to kill someone (insert terrified face here). And why is there vomit everywhere???
I have always been more comfortable in smaller towns. I grew up in Colorado and moved with my family to the Chicago suburbs as I got older. I specifically didn't go to the art colleges I applied for in the city because the thought of being alone and having to navigate in the giantness of it all straight terrified me. Instead I chose a small private college in the Quad Cities (the word 'Cities' being a bit of a stretch---they are basically glorified towns surrounded by farmland). And the thing is, I liked those places. I don't need four hundred different Korean BBQ options or specialty boutiques just for toy breed dogs. I need a few places to go and a lot of open space. And my own quiet safe zone that is my home.
So when I finally committed to city-living I still wasn't super confident about it, but I firmly believe in growing through stepping out of your comfort zone, so I took the dive. And honestly, this may be as far out of my comfort zone as I've ever been (although living in and traveling through East Asia is up there). But the problem is now that I'm finally here, I'm ready to pack it all up and leave. I'm ready to head back to a place with a yard and tall trees and crickets at night in the summer.....with a secured parking spot that doesn't cost a zillion dollars a month and darkness at night and people not puking on the sidewalk in front of me on a regular basis.
But I can't just pack up and leave. Herein lies my dilemma.
So instead of dwelling on my city-misery, I'm challenging myself to a Personal Happiness Quest. I'm going to make myself appreciate Chicago (or at least not loathe living here), one intentional thought at a time. I'm assigning myself a (hopefully generous) quota of finding one thing a week that I love or find beautiful in the city. I am going to try to catch myself when I'm feeling negative or unhappy and immediately search for something to appreciate to counteract those feelings. Because for real, constantly being on edge is a shitty way to live your life. And I really don't want to develop permanent bitch face. Because that's not who I am.
I'd love if you follow along with me on my journey to greater peace and happiness. I'm hoping to post about each week's good things every Thursday as a part of the Art Social Be Happy Link-up. Do you have a personal happiness mission? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!