My first born turns one today. No, I don’t have a child that I’ve hidden away from the rest of the world. I’m talking about my first novel Happiness Lost!!
(Spolier Alert) If you haven’t read Happiness Lost, and you hate spoilers, do not proceed with reading. Instead celebrate its birthday and head over to Amazon and pick up a copy or give a copy to a friend for their birthday, pass on the celebration:
Has a year really passed since we left Harry and Anika in that coffee shop in New York City? Where does the time go? Some people have asked me about the sequel to Happiness Lost. What happens to Jack? Did Lila ever recover from her mental breakdown? The thing is Happiness Lost was never really about Jack and Anika’s relationship, nor was it about Harry figuring out that he was always in love with Anika. It was never about Lila’s affair or Jack’s dirty secrets. It was about them realizing they were their own worst enemies. They were the ones making life difficult for themselves. They were all so desperate to find their own slice of Happiness that they couldn’t see what was right in front of them.
One year ago today, I released this story out into the world. I’ve written stories since I was five years old (my mother can prove it), and it took me nearly two decades to get over my fear of letting people other than teachers/professors read anything I wrote.
Why is that?
Because like I explored in Happiness Lost, I was my our own worst enemy. In my mind, the mountain was too big, the valley was too deep, and I just couldn’t possibly let another soul see what I wrote and find out how bad of a writer I really was. It’s one thing to tell people you are writer; it’s quite another to let them experience what you’ve written. Even though I had been paid in the past for the same skill, releasing a work of fiction to the public was just unthinkable.
But you know what? Like most other challenges in life, it wasn’t so bad. Once I took that deep breath and just let the fear go, it was incredibly freeing and so rewarding. I’ve been humbled by people’s responses to the work. No, it hasn’t been all positive, but people have taken their precious free time and they’ve spent pieces of it with my work of fiction. That’s all I can ask.
14 months ago, I couldn’t have imagined I would have two books circling the world, but I decided to face the challenge, to stomp my own fears, and to crest that mountain peak. And here we are, a year later. I survived my own fear.
Jack was his worst enemy. Anika was her worst enemy. Lila was her worst enemy. And Harry was definitely his own worst enemy. They created their own quagmire of problems and then blamed the world and everyone else in their lives for them. They were miserable trying their best to be happy. Everything in Harry’s life was unsatisfactory as it was for all of the other characters. They all wanted what someone else had. I was chasing every unproductive thing I possibly could to avoid the truth of my fear. I thought that I could find satisfaction in doing other things instead of facing the truth of my fear that I was just scared of people’s reactions.
How often do we foolishly chase inanimate objects or people thinking they will make us happy? How often do we chase obsessions, good and bad, for the sake of what’s right in front of us? How often do we sacrifice our morals, beliefs, even our families and friends for fleeting flings of happiness?
How often do we make problems bigger in our head? How often do we tell ourselves we can’t do something before we even attempt it? Why do we cut ourselves short? Why are we our own worst enemy?
Stomp out your fears today. If I learned anything from the past year, it is this: I can overcome challenges in front of me both mentally and physically, but I have to be ok with the falling and all the messing up in between. Fear of failure is not a reason to avoid doing something. Fear of failure is an excuse.
Stop being your own worst enemy. Stop allowing excuses to take over your life. Stop allowing fear hold you back. And stop chasing other people’s dreams and their visions of happiness.
Copying someone else’s happiness will never make you happy because you are your own unique person. You were created by God uniquely. You were given your own talents, your own dreams, your own goals. Relish in those, fight for those.
And before you know it, you’ll look back and a year will have passed. You’ll wonder what you were so scared of after all. Celebrate with me. Happy birthday to Happiness Lost!