a not so how-to guide about happiness.

Burning Man 2015

Burning Man 2015

Many people have told me that high school is the best years of your life, but I’ve always thought the 20’s would be better. I didn’t know who I was in high school or what I was all about and I assumed that I’d work all those things out during my twenties. I knew certain things about myself but without the years of experience behind me I didn’t know that the things I did wouldn’t always be in the past. I didn’t know that sometimes after a lot of mistakes these things would catch up with you and start to become a part of who you are. I know we can all start over but what happens when you wake up one day and discover that some of those mistakes weren’t one-offs but actually YOU; that there are patterns in your behavior that you wish you could change?

I’ve always believed that awareness was half the battle. Most people aren’t even aware of their behaviors, it’s amazing to me that people can be so out of touch with themselves… but I guess I can’t blame any of us either, floating around in a world of constant distractions, stimulations and judgements. If you have the awareness then you’ve already gone through the hard part. You’ve already decided that there needs to be a change to be where you want to be. I had a professor once that told me, “the key to life is to always remain a little off balance”. She said that we should do this because if we get too comfortable then we aren’t as receptive to new situations and in touch with our life experiences. Her words have stuck with me since, as a constant reminder to continue to do things on a regular basis that are outside my comfort zone. In the uncomfortable unbalance we eventually find our way into the answers.

This year Burning Man tore me wide open. My virgin Burn last year wasn’t quite so intense, I mean it was, but it took me months to actually process it. When I left this year I felt so vulnerable- I had spent the last 2 weeks with a group of people where vulnerability was the norm, saying what you felt was expected and encouraged, and radical self reliance was what the entire experience was all about. But when I dropped off my last friend at the airport in Colorado and began the journey back to Minnesota, I had tears in my eyes. I felt so emotional and so raw. Coming home usually brings me a sense of relief, your own bed again and familiar surroundings… but after everything I’d come to terms with I wasn’t sure how ready I was to go back to reality. Then after getting home I went back to my normal cusp of energy and went through about a week of burning the candle at both ends before I realized something… I wasn’t processing, instead I was distracting myself from processing my experience. I slipped right back into the Lauryn I am when I’m back here, and it took until BM to realize that I had lost myself, and a lot more of myself in the last 6 months than I had any idea of. The last month has shown me who I am and who I’m capable of being again and in that vulnerability I found a reminder of my own power and was able to reconnect with that little girl inside of me again.

And I guess that’s the point. We won’t always have the answers and we will have some time periods where we aren’t necessarily who we want to be. Sometimes we’re aware of this and other times we’re just stuck in a funk. But as long as we honor ourselves and take time every day to be by ourselves and check in with ourselves then we’re doing something right. Because if I’ve learned anything this year it’s that happiness isn’t something we have, it’s something we need to maintain on a daily basis. You cannot arrive at your destination happy and continue to keep the happiness unless it is maintained. Without that we just slowly slip back into that void where we’re not feeling like ourselves. As important as the journey is, the worst thing in the world would be arriving there and realizing you don’t even know yourself anymore.

Everyone is capable of change, but hold yourself lightly and don’t expect drastic changes all at once. If you are feeling like you somehow ended up in a place you don’t want to be, just know that the awareness you have now will guide you into the answers, but only if you honor and listen to yourself first. We must all maintain our own happiness, no one else can do that for us.