Our whole lives everyone tells us to grow up and be happy. The more I think about it, the less it seems like a very good idea. Certainly, I think you can experience happiness. But happy is sort of like the wind; you can never tell what direction it’s coming from or how much longer it’s going to keep on coming. I think “Be happy” is bad advice. Certainly, it made my life a bit of a wreck.
I think what we really want is much more complex than being happy. I think we want meaning. Happiness is like a bong hit. Meaning it is like being plugged into something pure; it’s strong, enduring, a constant connection to something more. We need meaning. The thing about it, though, is there is really only one road to travel to find it. That road is filled with rocks and bumps and dead ends and disappointments and despair. There’s no road map, no instruction book. No one who can tell you whether to turn right or left. You just show up and feel your way through the whole thing. You hurry up and scrape your knee. And when you fall, you find a reason, any reason you can, to get back up.
Perhaps the truth is simply that my life wasn’t as bad as what I had created in my head. I helped make the glass half empty when it could have been half full. After a while, not being happy or not being whole becomes its own addiction. Being a mess is just who you are somehow. It’s nothing, but you wouldn’t know what to do without that nothingness. It’s what keeps you going. Your darkness and despair become something to think about and obsess over. All the things that hurt us are also things I allowed myself to become obsessed about. All the little imperfections, the little jagged edges, the little pieces of brokenness, were lying on the floor of my life, and I just kept picking them back up and letting them cut me.
I guess that it’s easier to believe you’re broken and defective than to believe anything else. If you believe you’re a fuckup, all the pressure falls off of you. In the most twisted sense, being a fuckup gives you freedom. The freedom to not care. The freedom to be selfish. The freedom to become poisonous and not to change.
When you stop believing those things about yourself, you actually lose that freedom. You have to become a better person. You have to stop selling yourself short. You have to stop hurting people and hiding behind the excuse that you are flawed. You have to stop using the blanket of being a fuckup and expose yourself. Get naked. When you do that, when you finally find the will to do that, you discover that your life has limits. I used to think those limits were the enemy, that they were confining walls that would close in upon me and crush me. Now I see that they’re actually the opposite. They empower and embolden. We need boundaries to find balance. We need limits because otherwise, we have nothing to keep life and all its choices in check. Turns out, boundaries aren’t the enemy. Bad beliefs are.
About the Author
Kevin Breel is a 21-year-old writer, comedian, and activist for mental health. His work has been featured by NBC, CBS, The Huffington Post, MTV, CNN, The Today Show, Mashable and The Wall Street Journal. His passionate TEDx talk entitled ”Confessions of a Depressed Comic” went instantly viral online- amassing millions of viewers and being featured on more than 200+ media outlets. Mashable called it “one of the moments that brought the world together” and the Huffington Post said the talk was “simply amazing.” As a comedian, he’s performed in venues all across the globe; including the House of Blues, Rogers Arena and the historic Colosseum. As a mental health activist, he’s a National Spokesperson for the Bell LET’S TALK Campaign and has been a guest speaker at Ivy League schools and billion dollar companies.
For more information: http://www.kevinbreel.com.
Reprinted from BOY MEETS DEPRESSION. Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Breel. Published by Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.