Love and the Responsibility of Our Own Joy
When we are single, we can get consumed in the journey to find the one. The intricacies of dating and attraction can make us easily forget who we are and what we have to offer. This is especially true nowadays when we are swiping through hundreds of stranger’s profiles online and our minds race to figure out who we can connect with - who might make us happy.
To find joy, we might focus on nourishing our own strengths, then we go on a few dates with a special someone and turn into a ball of mush. Confidence dips and we find ourselves stumbling a bit and seeking acceptance and emotional validation from a person we’ve known for a “minute” of our lives. Alternatively, we experience what we thought was true love, and also felt this same need for validation. Love should not equal weakness and vulnerability should not lead to giving up on our own identities and the joy that comes from seeking it.
Most people seek authentic connections and hope to grow old with someone. When we are in our 20s and early 30s, we are often rushed to get serious and start a family. What happens in your 40s when your kids grow up, or you skipped the marriage, kids, and white picket fence? What happens to those that lose a partner? The ebb and flow of life and its pleasure and discomfort is inevitable. The timeline we imagine for ourselves often doesn’t pan out. Finding the strength to build courage and optimism is up to the individual, as is embracing the potential for joy that comes from that.
We are all responsible for our own happiness. We are born alone, we will die alone, and those that join us on life’s journey might be long-term, or just a moment in time. The way we organize our thought patterns and embrace emotional intelligence seems to determine how much we can independently cultivate our own joy. That means we aren’t squeezing it out of our loved ones and leaving them lacking, but we are doing the work of self-realization and radiating that authentic version of us.
According to Karen Walrond, author of “The Lightmaker’s Manifesto”, we should regularly ponder these questions to stay in our own light and own our own joy.
How can I feel connected today?
How can I be healthy?
How can I be purposeful?
When letting these questions and possible responses twirl around in your head, you might become “unstuck” and find steady ground. Is it that you wished you kept full control of your heart? Maybe. I’m not sure which is healthier - letting yourself fall in love a little or keeping control because you are your best person.
In this climate of dating beyond 40, I am cautious. My joy is fragile and requires focus. My joy requires planning and in that planning, I elevate my worth and self-love. Kind of like a fortress. Not impenetrable, but guarded.
Joy doesn’t have to mean giddy with happiness. It can be expressed by contentment and inner peace through our emotions, bodies, and minds. As I hesitantly navigate romance, I try to remind myself of what I offer the world and the satisfaction of knowing that connecting with another inspired soul will not complete me, but create something new altogether.
Finding joy is a practice, it is not static. If we want to be independently happy, we have to decide daily to do the work, trust the process of self-realization, and share the reward with those we love.