14 Comments

I built a startup. My family was in tough financial shape before that and there was a sale of the company on the horizon a few times. Always thought "once we sell the company and pay off our debt we'll be so happy". Then we did that. We were in a great financial spot. Turns out there were other things inherent in why I wasn't happy underneath. Then I started doing the real work. On me. On who I wanted to be. A few years later and I can truly say I'm happier than I've ever been. But there is still more to go and more I want to work on. The difference is now I appreciate each day for what it is - the day I am living in on that day. No more waiting for that magic solution.

Expand full comment
author

Yes to doing the real work, Marty! I love that.

Expand full comment
Sep 21, 2021Liked by Katie Hawkins-Gaar

My forever dream is to lose weight. I struggle so hard with this and body image and I want to finally be happy with my weight and how I look... I told myself it would be milestones with my health that would make me feel good in my own skin, but when that occurred-- I wasn't happy with my weight still. So idk. I don't think forever dreams are ever realistic for anyone. I just think we all dream in color not enough black and white and it seems that it's possible and feasible-- but it never is.

Expand full comment
Sep 21, 2021Liked by Katie Hawkins-Gaar

Hi, hello, same and same.

At the beginning of this year, I reached my high weight for the third time in my life. I'm working on losing that weight... AGAIN. For the third time. And hoping it's the last. But the other two were also supposed to be the "last time"...

I've recently reached a plateau, and I keep trying to focus on the things that are changing, even though my weight, as a number, is not right now. I'm definitely getting stronger. My body shape is changing. But even still, why isn't the number budging?

It's frustrating. But I do know that even when I reached smaller weights... And I was too small for several years... I obviously wasn't happy enough to maintain it.

Not an answer, just an observation. Something I'm trying to hold onto as I continue this current journey.

I see you.

Expand full comment

I just finished reading “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” last night and felt irrationally annoyed. A few hours of thinking why that is and I realized I detest books, movies, tv shows where the end wraps up neatly, like a “happily ever after.” Because that’s not how real life stories work and that’s maybe not how real fiction should work. Eleanor is only 31 years old when we turn the last page, and that left me wondering at what point in her next 42 years — assuming she lives to 73 — will she slip back into the state at which we first meet her? When Raymond dies, gets hit by a bus, moves away, suffers the fate Sammy did? I dunno, but to declare a human being “fixed” at any point in their lives is folly. Yet, we do it a lot. “I’m fine” is easier to say than “I need to be fixed — again.” Few of our friends and family have the patience for the second “fixing” even though it’s more realistic to acknowledge it is an ongoing repair.

Every story we have fits into the middle of someone else’s story. I will most likely shuffle off the mortal coil smack dab in the middle of my grandkids celebrating their best years. I hope that doesn’t dampen their memories of their own youth, instead that I was merely one of many people crossing into and out of their lives.

All this to say, “happily ever after” and “forever home” (and the canine version, furever home where one always hopes the pet dies before hereafter… nobody knows what to do with the dog..) annoys me and thank you for this essay. And also, I probably think about dying more than is healthy 😬

Expand full comment
author

Gerard, I had the exact same thought/complaint about "Eleanor Oliphant!" Truly, I enjoyed the book overall, but the ending felt a bit too tidy. I love what you shared. And I, too, share your unhealthy obsession of thinking often about death and what it means ;)

Expand full comment

"Every story we have fits into the middle of someone else's story."

Well said. This is actually somewhat in line with how I rationalize death not being a "scary" event to experience (for the person dying, that is). When we think about dying, we are startled by the idea that our life, our experiences, our consciousness...just end. That we can't be part of the bigger "Life" anymore. But we never feel that same dread when we consider the fact that we weren't part of "Life" before we were born. That people existed before we did. That our entire lives can begin and end before another person's life is over.

Anyway, I appreciate that perspective. Thank you for sharing.

Expand full comment
Sep 21, 2021Liked by Katie Hawkins-Gaar

When I get TENURE, I'll finally be happy. Well, it is nice to know my job is ok for now, especially in this climate, but ultimately, it has opened up a whole other can of worms. Feeling harder than when I was working towards tenure. Now I don't have a goal, a lot more work, and expectations are even higher.

Expand full comment
Sep 22, 2021Liked by Katie Hawkins-Gaar

I feel like what you're describing is a very common sentiment when it comes to career goals - the position with the highest security and prestige will be the one that makes me feel like I've succeeded in my field. And if I get that, then I can truly enjoy my work. But like you've described, often the idea of that career goal is more fulfilling than its reality once achieved.

I'm not sure what your field is in academia, but are there opportunities for collaborative work? Either in regards to research or even just improving your department internally? I used to work at a university, so I know that there's a lot of red tape and politics that go on that can be discouraging.

Anyway, Emily, all that to say that I hope (and believe!) that this is just, in fact, a phase of your feelings and experience as a tenured faculty member—not forever!

Expand full comment
Sep 22, 2021Liked by Katie Hawkins-Gaar

For Sarah and me, the dream of happily ever after used to be kids and a house we could make into a home for our family. We were in the process of adopting a child, waiting to be matched. We were looking at houses and dreaming of what we could do with them. Then Sarah got sick and all that came crashing down. For a long time, I held on to the hope that she would get better and we could get back to our dreams. That never happened. With her chronic illness, we've had to dramatically shift our ideas about what "happily ever after" looks like. It's hard to hope for a future that looks much different from our life right now. The dreams we hold on to become much smaller. Things like maybe getting away for the weekend to a nearby town, or sometimes just being able to go have dinner together at a restaurant. I think right now, the pandemic feels like the biggest block from this smaller happily ever after. These simple dreams that we have now carry too much risk. And it's hard to have seemingly simple things taken away.

It's difficult looking into the future and not feeling like I can really dream about the coming years and decades being much different from where we are now. I'd like to think it helps me to focus on the present, but often it just feels bleak. One of the most basic things we hold on to though is laughter. We often say as long as we're still laughing, we're doing okay. And as long as we have that, we can make our ever after as happy as we can.

Expand full comment

As someone who manages chronic illness...I can relate to much of this. There's a lot of reckoning and bargaining that goes along with how you set expectations for yourself (and your partner, your lifestyle, etc).

I remember you mentioning before (and sharing a photo of) your dog! Not that I can at all start to compare this as a "replacement" or "consolation prize" for adopting a child. Certainly. But it's an example of how we pivot our expectations and plans when we have to. And sometimes along the way, we get the pleasant surprise of discovering something that may have never been the "happily ever after" we imagined for ourselves, but is something, indeed, very happy and fulfilling.

I hope none of that sounds dismissive to you and your wife's struggle. What I do know is that you are both doing the best you can, as you can. It's not easy. But laughter really fucking helps <3

Expand full comment
author

Justin, I always love and appreciate hearing your perspective. And I can't tell you how much I adore the idea of holding onto laughter. Thank you.

Expand full comment
Sep 22, 2021Liked by Katie Hawkins-Gaar

I do believe I am heading towards a happily ever after with my boyfriend. Very happy but also some things need to be worked out. Looking forward to what the future holds, fingers crossed.

Expand full comment

Fingers crossed for you! That's exciting <3

Expand full comment