Submitted Date 02/25/2020

"Why aren't you happy?" Was a question she repeated over and over again in her mind. Some days, it was right when she woke up: "why aren't you happy?" sounded like it was coming from an inner voice that did not really sound like hers. There were days she would hear the question echo and pin ball between her ear drums or around her skull, days when the question came off concerned. A voice that was genuine that looked for an answer, a voice that was balanced and calm and collected. The sound sounded like it was something that would pick her hands up and look her in the eyes and really enunciate the words towards her, each one floating gently towards her like a small poke… "why aren't you happy?"

Then there were the days when the pin ball felt a little heavier. It felt like it was ten tons of metal clanking against her skull, hitting every part of the bone and echoing so loudly her body felt like it could just shake beneath the noise. "Why aren't you happy?" was like a yell that sounded more familiar than the understanding and caring voice she heard very rarely compared this one. It sounded like her parents, questioning her over different things so many times over and over again through the years that once she was older the question didn't sound like a question anymore but a sigh of being annoyed and a statement instead. Like, "we know you aren't happy, and we know you are incapable of being happy about anything, or we assume so, and we are wondering what in the world is wrong with you even though we have no hope in your answer making you realize you should be happy". It sounds like several ex boyfriends who would sigh it almost the same, like it has been something they thought for months and finally blurted it out, feeling like they were the problem, or saying it in a way to make her feel like she was the problem.

She did not know. She did not know why she could not stay happy for a long while or could not be happy with a lot of things that walked into her life. She did not know, and although the second voice blamed her for not being happy or accepting, she knew she was not choosing not to be happy, that could not be the reason why, could it?

Every thing in her life seemed to be stamped with a pretty little golden sticker, with a future date of an expiration of when something new and exciting and worthy of her attention and smiles and sometimes laughs would expire and leave her feeling kind of dull and kind of unamused. She got bored of things so quickly. She got bored of relationships and studies and had no attention span for the TV shows or movies that reflected colorful lights and ignited laughter or intense dramatic attention from the audience. She got bored of songs she would find and think she loved so deeply until they turned into just another annoying repeat of noise.

She moved from place to place, excited about new environments and jobs and people and loved discovering new cafes and bookshops, thrift stores and record shops, and then she would barely have the energy to get up out of bed on the weekends and nights to go outside. She would huff about her once exciting job and be annoyed by the townspeople driving erratically on the roads and the crowds in the shops. Why did everything need to have an expiration date?

And she traveled the world and she learned new enriching things and she took herself with her the whole time, she took herself and she took her pin ball and she took her journal full of old expiration stickers on the things that were once shiny lovely things in her life, now moldy and damp and old.

At some point, she thinks that she was young and recognized the pattern of the boredom and the staleness, when she very young and too old to remember, and she thinks there was this kind of internal acceptance of it that everything just became stale faster. That she expected it all the time now and she could barely budge out of the cynical cycle she had been in for almost all her life. She remembers her childhood friends moving to different countries or going to different schools, teachers leaving, relationships losing their spark, shiny new cars being scratched by parked doors and every material item breaking too just a little fast.

She wondered if maybe the question was not actually "why aren't you happy", maybe it was something different. Maybe this whole time she had been translating this differently. That when she was not happy the sentence said to her by others flew above her and quickly away, that maybe she barely heard anyone else ask her this question and instead the inner voice she had never asked her this question. Instead maybe the voice asked her when she was happy: "why are you happy?" and in the end she had no answer to really provide. Why was she happy when she was happy? Why did she feel bad about being happy? Was it because she internally reminded herself that if she was happy it would end sometime soon?

She found herself in this endless cycle of putting herself down and burying herself down in the mud like she was being continuously hit by the hammer above her head to be put into this little mole hole. Why wasn't she happy? Why was she happy? Could she ever be happy with a mind so endlessly questioning and expecting the ultimate worst towards every new thing that pronounced itself into her life?

Why was everyone else happy and so fearlessly? Why could she not easily be like them.

Maybe it was a process, she thought, or maybe she was just never really meant to happy and truly fearless.


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