The day I passed my PhD viva without a single correction was one of the defining moments of my life. I’d been working towards that day for four years. Walking out of the examination room, I was euphoric. Half-crying, half-laughing, I delivered the news to my husband and we went to celebrate at my favourite Iranian restaurant.
As I was falling asleep that night, I kept thinking: This is it! I’ve made it. Now I can finally start living. Now I can finally be happy.
The next day was the most ordinary day imaginable.
Nothing spectacular happened. What’s more, I didn’t feel any happier. No, if anything, I felt empty. Yes, there was a relief, but there was also confusion – now what? What’s the next big thing I need to conquer? And why did I not feel happy, or at least happier?
Now looking back at that moment I understand that I was waiting for the happiness to come from outside. I was expecting for that validation to give me a sense of self-worth. Yes, it was a big accomplishment, but it wasn’t something that could make me happy.
We are either happy or not. External circumstances can give us a quick fix, but it’s the inner ‘work’ that can provide lasting results.
I’m keeping this in mind as I’m entering the next stage of putting my work out into the world. Publishing my book will be amazing, and I can’t wait for that day. But it’s not something that can make me feel more loveable, successful or happy.
What’s your take on this, dear reader? I’d love to hear your thoughts.