In the May 2010 issue, O Magazine ran a series of articles on what it means to be happy. Eat, Pray, Love's Elizabeth Gilbert contributed an article. So did beloved Grey's Anatomy creator, Shonda Rhimes.
Of course I skipped ahead to the Shonda Rhimes article first. Because what Shonda and I share that Elizabeth and I do not is the following phrase: Dark and twisty. While I wish that I could spend an all-expenses-paid year abroad after every breakup, it's Meredith Grey with whom I identify. Dark and twisty. Mer used to combat her problems with drinking too much tequila and sleeping with inappropriate men. Mer is jaded. Mer is me.
So what does the creator of TV's dark and twistiest character have to say about happiness? Give up.
She writes about it a little more eloquently. As women, we're told we should do it all: be an executive, raise children, have a great relationship with your husband, donate to charity, buy organic and train for that marathon. I was taken aback with how I have been trying to do all of those things without even realizing it. I'm in a battle at work for manager, I already do my charity work, I've spent this summer switching to organic and trying to psych myself up for that damn 5k. I don't even know why I've been trying to do all of these things. I might even blame O Magazine for touting mind, body, spirit health every issue.
Rhimes writes that wanting it all is the women's lament. And in her dark and twisty fashion, she reminds us that there are always going to be people better than we are at things. So, give up. Prioritize what you want out of life and let go of the rest. "Stop training for that marathon," she writes. (Mental note: check). "Let someone else have the great relationship."
My eyes stopped at those words, Let someone else have the great relationship. That's what I should do. I am so good at so many other things, I should have the career that I'm proud of and focus on my side knitting business I'm trying to get off the ground. Keep eating organic, 'cause I like it. Let go of running, because I don't. And let someone else have the love affair I've spent my entire life chasing.
I put the magazine down and picked up a dry erase marker and walked into the bathroom. Across the side of the mirror I don't use, I scrawled, Let someone else have the great relationship. And every time I brushed my teeth, brushed my hair or applied mascara before running out for the night, my eyes would trail across my new mantra.
I tried to embrace my dark and twisty, but it felt wrong. In the way that Elizabeth Gilbert writes about listening to your gut, it felt wrong. Lying- on- the- bathroom- floor- crying- because- you- don't- want- to- be- in- this- marriage- anymore wrong. For an entire month my stomach would sour every time I read it. It's a nice mantra, logically it should be my mantra, but I realized I can't give up.
I wiped the words off the mirror and replaced them with something that felt right: Someone, somewhere is going to love me.
And then I picked up my O Magazine and read Elizabeth Gilbert's view on happiness.