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Throughout my years on this earth, I’ve observed that there are certain life transitions that society measures as supposed standards of adulthood, success, and stability. We all know what they are: high paying corporate job, marriages, kids, financially stable, and the list goes on. Many of us believe that these milestones will eventually lead us down the road of validation and happiness. Personally I’m still on this road, and all the twists and turns in my life have changed my perspective. I’m starting to notice that many of my loved ones, friends, and co-workers, who have checked off all of these milestones, seem to still possess unfulfilled and sad dispositions.

From the outside looking in at their dope cars, clothes, high salaries, marriages and kids, they seem to have it all. But from their daily complaints and venting frustrations, I’m starting to realize that many of these successful, married adults are truly unhappy. Now don’t get me wrong, I realize that it’s tough just being a responsible adult caring for your own well-being, and pile on marriage and children that’s a whole other ball game. I also realize that there are annoying events that loved ones place upon you on a daily basis and it doesn’t mean you’re depressed just because your spouse and children may say or act in a way that annoys the hell out of you.

What I’m referring to are the people who allow these daily familial annoyances to keep them down. They often speak out loud about these issues and view their marriages and families as prison sentences, and they are counting down the days until their release date. This pattern that I’m noticing with certain people in my life is forcing my empathy in a weird space. On one hand, most people can’t foresee depression and we never know how we may react in moments of despair, especially when you have a family and you are forced to put your own feelings aside as a spouse and parent. The necessary process of self-reflection is automatically placed on the back burner and I can totally empathize with that.  However, my indifference with my loved ones comes from their procrastinating stance towards dealing with this lingering sorrow. They become comfortable in congregating with other unhappy parents for everyone to vent about how their lives suck more than the other. I’m very introverted with my feelings and always felt responsible in dealing with my worries on my own. Over the years, I have realized that speaking with others about personal issues can be therapeutic. But pity parties have never been my scene. I’m my own worst critic and find it pointless to allow others to assist in making me feel any lower than I already can.

Personally, I’ve always felt that I’m never at my best when I’m in a low emotional state. In these times, I always felt as if I’m on autopilot and coasting through the daily motions of work and tides with family and loved ones. But I’m not a parent and I’m also single as a dollar bill. However, if I were the latter, I think it would give me more push to find help in dealing with any feelings of unfulfillment and depression. How can you really be the best parent on spouse you can be when you’re just coasting through life in this buried weariness?

I’m noticing that this mentality also brings people to horrible social habits: pity parties, gossip and heavily judgmental stances towards people who choose to handle life’s challenges in a different or healthier manner. I’m also realizing that this is an unhealthy coping mechanism for these folks. They rather project that negativity onto others in judgment and jealousy or control people’s empathy through self-pity than taking responsibility for these emotions and finding resources that can help them transition out of their state. It’s unfortunate how these behaviors have become their normalized existence, and they rather continue on this spiritually empty path and keep up appearances than deal with the difficult layers of their “happy” homes.

I’m hoping that my fellow millennials can start to positively break the molds of these culturally suffocating standards of success. I’m hoping that we become more comfortable in creating new norms of success in various industries that aren’t necessarily in a corporate environment. Most importantly, that we start to realize that self-awareness and happiness is an evolving force in our lives. I believe that true happiness in our careers, marriages, and children can happen at any time in our lives and shouldn’t be restricted by age or finances. I’m learning that leading with intuition and spiritual fulfillment are allowing these realities to gradually fall into place for me and the daily work is projecting the beauty of the process.