On the path back to happiness

Rebeca Trejo

My morning routine included hitting the snooze button to gain an extra 10 minutes of sleep, followed by 10 minutes of sitting on my bed and thinking about how tired I was. And as I pushed my body out of bed, the vicious feelings of uncertainty began.

I dreaded the day ahead. Stale coffee, a boss who’s lost sight of the big picture, superficial meetings, money-driven clients and being surrounded by inauthentic connections. I wanted more, but I had no energy, physically or mentally. I felt trapped in a cage, forced to do something I hated every day just so that I could afford to pay the bills.

I often asked myself, “Why am I alive? Is there reason to even live life feeling so purposeless and uninspired?”

Self-conscious about my own personal predilections and desires, I declared advertising as my major. I’d be working in an interesting environment, breathing the same air as those lucky creatives. I was 19 years old. I had it all figured out.

Truth is, when your career has no meaning, and you go to a job you hate, only to do it all over again the next day, your spark starts to die out and you begin to lose purpose. Before I knew it, two years had passed while I waited for someone else to come along and motivate me. Problem is, no one ever came.

As I grew conscious of how fragile life could be, I began to listen to myself and realized that my happiness is central to perform and advance both in my career and my life. I didn’t want to sell my soul anymore; I craved a career that would make a difference by creating positive social change. I understood I needed to pursue something that would make me feel inspired, passionate and excited. My mind, and most importantly, my heart, demanded that I get my blood pumping. I knew I had to make a change in order to wake up alive every morning, even if I was exhausted and there’s a thunderstorm outside and my bed feels like a giant floating cloud.

Finally, I left my advertising job and found joy again by enrolling back in college to pursue a new career path – journalism. As I discovered my desire to interact with everyday people in a different way than others, I felt compelled to push myself out of my comfort zone and against insecurities even more. It felt terrifying. But at the same time, I could sense my eagerness to align my values with my career goals more than ever. And while this may sound idealistic, perhaps I just needed to be reminded that we only get one chance to live.

I allowed myself to be authentic, and along the way, I learned that life is about having the courage to take risks. For me, having the privilege to pursue a new career path meant I would not only develop my mind in new ways, but also, that I would be able to embrace the freedom of experiencing a new process where I could be mentally stimulated to do and feel something.

It’s easy to stop believing in yourself. However, overcoming my initial fear of not being good enough led me to realize that going into debt in the midst of a recession was the best thing that could have happened to me. Learning about new projects alongside challenging individuals helped me take my mind off my uninspiring career choice. Spending time around young people keeps me young. Their energy is infectious, and they seemed to like being around me as well.

Had I not gone back to school, I would not have the confidence or skills to apply for a job writing articles. Had I not gone back to school, I would not have realized that happiness trumps price. Had I not gone back to school, I would not have been able to feel excited about life again. But most importantly, had I not gone back to school, I would not have realized that the fear I felt for trying something new, or being judged, or failing or creating something bad doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. What does matter is our ability to try and realize when you are meant for something bigger.