A few years ago, after graduating from college, I returned home to an internship-turn-full-time job position in New York City's Financial District. I was paying off loans. I was moving out of my mom's apartment, and into my own place with my partner, twin sister and best friend. Everything felt right. Right up until it didn't.
Several months into my new life I found myself deeply unhappy. On the outside, from what everyone else saw, I had everything together. I had even convinced myself I did. After all, I had a well-paying job where I got to travel and meet pretty influential people, CEOs, actors, political leaders. I had a loving partner who planned lavish international vacations. I had a super supportive network of friends, family, mentors and used-to-be strangers who cheered me on to success. Still, on the inside, it was as though I was sitting—hiding—in the corner of a dark room. I didn't feel great about who I was. I felt deeply unfulfilled. And success, no matter how I or others looked at it, was not going to fill the void I was feeling.
But how could I not appreciate all that I had? I'd ask myself. Especially since I came from little to nothing? I had a close-to-free degree from a credible private business school. I had a job through which I could take care of my mother and brother. I had a home and there was no imminent eviction notice. I could take care of myself and go wherever I chose.
These thoughts guilted me in to silence. But they also make me grateful. After a couple of more months of immobility, I decided I couldn't settle for a pretty shell of a life. So I moved myself. I started volunteering for things that required my skills and helped others. I started reading books I actually enjoyed. I started writing again, a craft that provided me inner peace. I was much more careful about my thoughts and how I saw myself. I even started working out and got my health back, not realizing I had gained close to 30 pounds in just a year.
Slowly, but surely I was transforming not back into the person I once was, but to someone happier, better. Work got better. My relationships got better. Life got better. I got better. I had a little more hope, and, as it turned out, that's all I needed to get moving. After that first year of sitting in a dark corner, I spent the second year up from the ground looking for the light switch. Even if that meant stumbling around for a while. This year, the light is on. I can see what's in front of me. And three years later, I can actually say what I see makes me happy.