One universal struggle we share as humans: chasing the impossible concept of “happiness”. If we just do that, if we just travel here, if we just get that promotion, if I can achieve this goal, if I can make it through this struggle, utopia is right on the other side.
Part of this fallacy is survival instinct – using that myth to drive us and preserve our sanity throughout tough times. The other part is we genuinely don’t know how to fill the void that exists within us. We compulsively try to fill it with anything. Working, working out, traveling, drugs, alcohol, sex, some of these addictions lead to wealth and acceptance from polite society and some lead you down a path of shame and acceptance from a group of people just as broken as you.
At the end of the day, we simply want to feel good more than we feel bad and share that experience with people that we trust. It may look like we’re an advanced society but we’re still cavemen, sitting around a fire, seeking connection and comfort.
I’ve tried nearly everything to fill my void. I’m still trying. I oscillate between drinking and drugging to completely (but temporarily) eliminate the thoughts I want to escape. Or being overwhelmingly positive and trying to work my anxiety and depression away. Or literally running away by traveling as much as possible, falsely believing that the next location will solve my problems for me.
I’m not rich and famous. Or wealthy and anonymous. Would a few million dollars immediately increase my happiness? Abso-fucking-lutely. But it would be a temporary high. After I was done buying things and acting superior to everybody else, I’d still be sitting at home, wondering what’s next, posting my riches to Instagram to get the validation from strangers that I need from myself.
I’ve read books, listened to podcasts, gone to different therapists, meditated, I’ve tried it all. Sometimes consistently, most times sporadically. And the only thing that’s filled the void for me is self-love. The way I treat myself is a direct reflection of the way I treat other people and view the world at large. If I hate myself, I hate other people. If I can’t forgive myself, I can’t forgive others. If I am angry at myself, I’m a fucking nightmare to deal with. No matter how I try to justify my feelings internally, this is the unwavering truth staring me in the face. Begging me to listen and stop making everything so difficult for the people around me.
Despite knowing this, occasionally loving myself (not in that way), and trying to drill it into my head on a weekly basis, I struggle. My ego and mental health lie to me. I lash out at others for my pain. My failures. My mistakes. My frustration with myself. It’s only human. The last thing we want to do as people is take responsibility for our actions or admit when we’re wrong. It’s a gut punch to your ego and we avoid it out of self-preservation.
The only thing that fills your void is love, specifically love for yourself. I’m not breaking any new ground here. Humans have been saying this for centuries. But knowing that is not enough. Working every day to remind yourself of this is the only way it works which also makes it so frustrating. I’ve found the answer! Why can’t I just accept this as truth?! Am I learning disabled?!
It’s because I’m a complicated, paradox of a person. As are you. I wish I could program myself to inherently know and believe all of these things but it takes a shitload of work. Work that I really don’t want to do. Work that I subconsciously yet actively avoid.
So today, my advice to myself is to stop looking for the magic solution to fill the void like it’s a keycard in a Resident Evil game. I’m going to focus on loving myself so I can spread that love to the rest of the world and embrace the things that I know make me happy. I deserve it. So do you.
The solution to filling the void is obvious, getting there is the hard part.