Get Happy

When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher invited us all to write a letter to our future selves. She promised to hold onto those letters, and to then mail them to us after five years had passed. I had forgotten all about this, until I received the letter today.

As I went to open the envelope, I admittedly did so trepidatiously. What expectations did I have for myself back then as an 18 year old? I almost didn't want to find out. But of course, curiousity got the best of me and I ripped the envelope open.

Dear Rachel,

    What's it like being twenty three? Honestly, this is really hard for me to write because I can't picture where I will be in five years. Five years is not a long time, but a lot of changes are going to happen in those five years.

    So. Life right now. I'm a week and two days away from graduation. I am so sick of school. I'm hoping that I can get my C- up to a B in my CE1050 class so that I can get six thousand dollars from Regents Scholars. I'm going to BYU in the fall. Right now things that are popular are Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, hipsters, and the Avengers. I'm listening to Codex by Radiohead. It's 8:44 p.m. and I'm tired. My mom is in Texas spending time with Granny Jan and Grandpa Ron. Grandpa is sick, we think he might have pancreatic cancer. My dad is in Boise on a business trip. Small, inconsequential things that I won't remember five years from now.

    Who did you marry? I'm super curious about that. Did you go into English? I'm really interested in English right now. I love writing. You can't tell from this letter, but I really do. And I suspect you do too. If you didn't go into English, what did you go into? Where are you working? You don't have kids do you?! Holy cow.

I laughed and I cried about this letter. I got my C- up to a B and got the scholarship. My grandpa passed away from pancreatic cancer two years later. I'm not married. I did go into English, and I do love writing. And no, I definitely do not have kids. 

The questions that I asked myself in the letter were full of expectations. It wasn't, "Hey, are you married?" It was "Who did you marry?" The unfulfilled expectation of marriage felt like a punch to my stomach. The letter is full of expectations of having the perfect, planned little life. Graduate high school. Go to college. Meet a nice boy and marry him in the temple. Graduate from college. Get a job and start having babies. 

Where am I at now?

Single. Still in college, trying not to flunk out. No little family of my own. Lonely at times. Struggling with self-worth. Not where I wanted to be.

I pushed aside the disappointment and kept reading. I'm glad I did. The part of the letter that got me the most was the last paragraph. As I read it, a lump formed in my throat. I felt as though past Rachel knew what needed to be said, though I don't know how I could've known back then how much I would need it now:

Well, I hope life is great. I hope you've done the best you can and that you've become what I want to be in five years. I hope you are strong in your testimony. I hope you work hard. I hope you live like every day was your last. I hope you are happy. And if you're not, get your act together, girlfriend. Get happy.

Love, Rach

*Letter edited a bit for names and content*

Get your act together, girlfriend. Get happy.

Truly, how often in our lives do we end up where we thought we should be? How often do our picture perfect plans come to pass? If that all happens for you, props my friend. For me, and I'm guessing most others, life is not like that. We don't end up where we thought we should be. Our picture perfect plans get erased and re-sketched all the time. Our great expectations are rarely fulfilled. But you know what never changes for anyone? Our ability to get happy.

We all have our challenges. My biggest challenge is having bipolar disorder. It causes some really, really dark days. But those dark days don't prevent me from getting happy. I can go out there and get it! Happiness is out there, and it starts with getting your act together. For me, that means getting rid of the word "but". "But" is usually followed by "I have bipolar disorder" or "I'm not myself right now." To get happy, I have to get rid of but. 

That is just one thing of many that I can work on to get happy. The question is, What are you going to do to get happy? What changes do you need to make? What relationships need strengthening? In short, get your act together, girlfriend.

Get happy.

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