The Art of the Swerve: Finessing Destination Happiness
Updated: May 7
I grew up in a Caribbean-American household with a pretty traditional immigrant ethos. Study hard and be excellent so that you go to Harvard. And be polite, so people know you had good home training.
It was a sensible approach for my baby-boomer parents who wanted nothing but security and opportunity for me. I followed through on their asks, and opportunity, I certainly did have. Though this made achieving things feel less like a grab for security and more like achievement for achievement's sake, which, as the fortunate child of hardworking parents who wanted nothing but the best for me, I found soul crushing (#ohsomillenial). So I acted on the conviction that if I could excel at doing things I felt blasé about, then I could definitely excel at doing something I loved, no? Why "settle" for survival when you can blossom and thrive?
Two months into my debut as an artist, I feel proud of what I've released so far (Toulouse and Obey, check both out here if you're late to the game). I love love love expressing my innermost essence, sonically and visually. But there's no denying that the self-managing tasks required by a determined independent artist are far less fulfilling and my present return on investment, let's just say, ain't for the faint of heart.
Destination Happiness, or as I like to call it, 'I'll be happy when...' syndrome, is the idea that a particular experience or a particular goal will make you happy once you attain it. It's a false ideal, a wildly dangerous way of thinking, because the reality is, whatever happiness you feel once you attain your goal will only last until your next hunger-pang for more begins. One solution to curbing this thirst, in the simplest sense, is to be content with where you are now. But what if, for some of us, this strikes as an equally terrifying disease? Sure, every soul wishes for peace and fulfillment, but for those who shudder at the idea of unfulfilled potential or worse, mediocrity (eek!), contentment silently threatens both.
"Enjoy the journey" — a more palatable fix for Destination Happiness. Since none of us have any say about the life we're born into, we either accept what we get or work to create the life we want. In my case, as a good-Caribbean-daughter-turned-lawyer-turned-independent-artist-who-aspires-to-live-off-her-art, I spend a great deal of time teaching myself marketing tactics and executing audience growth strategies. Do I enjoy TikTok? No. Do I do it? Yes. Do I daydream about 'when I don't have to do this damn TikTok no more'? 100%. Is it even certain that day will ever come? Well...
To be fair, who knows if I'm doing what an artist destined to 'make it' in 2021 is supposed to be doing. Recently, an industry insider told me that the reason why DaBaby blew up was because he shot and killed someone. Well, if that's what it takes, then I'm sh*t out of luck. But that's besides the point. The point is, we need to learn how to find joy in what we're doing now because nothing, as 2020 so humbly reminded us, is promised. Presently, the way I get through undesirable to-do's is by compartmentalizing; I block together the activities I don't enjoy so I only have to engage the headspace they require for a finite period of time. Once I finish, I literally jump out of my chair and go "woohoo! freedom!" I mean, if this isn't destination happiness at a micro-level, it's 'perseverance' at best and 'enduring the journey' at worst. So again, the secret to keeping destination happiness at bay must have something to do with finding joy in everything, even the things you don't enjoy. Kind of like reverse psychology. Or self-delusion.
Well, that's comforting.
Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.
For me, part of what it means to thrive is to be present in your life, every day. Not feeling numb or outside of yourself, but being here, alive, awake, authentically living. But I also totally stand by this Oprah quote. Independently, both "be here now" and "be here now to get there later" strike me as such sensible philosophies, but how do we reconcile them? How do we keep our souls nurtured and present while doing what we have to do on the journey to what we want to do?
Perhaps I wouldn't feel obliged to chase the exposure (which in this day and age comes down to numbers on social media and streaming services), if I simply kept my focus on the abundance I do have; like my supporters, who may be small in quantity (for now) but who are FIERCE in quality. I already know who will send me a championing 'you go girl!' love-note once I post this, and goodness, if you have that kind of love, haven't you already won? Theoretically, I know this is actually what I want, the kind of love that makes you feel so seen and that allows you to see others in return. But during the working hours, why is this theory so hard to remember? How can we marry an unshakable tendency to strive with full appreciation of who and what we are in the NOW?
I obviously don't have the answers, but Eckart Tolle might.
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Aquarius Rising is an account of what love looks like
when you consciously choose it for yourself.
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