We asked our spring interns at RoyalTee Magazine how they are defining happiness and love in their lives right now…
Keep Your Head Up Through The Struggle
“…my family has defined happiness and love for me with their love and support.”
A moment or time in my life that I defined happiness and love for myself developed down the line as a young adult. As a child and as a teenager I loved myself because I didn’t struggle with self-love and confidence, but I didn’t have happiness. Happiness was a struggle for me, and it still is at times. However, there is a moment in my life that makes me happy and makes my self-love continue to grow, which is when I think back on the time I suffered from epilepsy as child at the age of six years old.
Epilepsy made me lose control of my body physically and made me feel like an outcast, as if I wasn’t normal emotionally. But the love and support from my mom and grandparents helped me get through that challenging time. At the age of twelve, I was no longer diagnosed with the condition and I have been epilepsy free for ten years now.
So, my family has defined happiness and love for me with their love and support. Another moment that defined happiness and love for me was the death of Cameron Boyce, a known Disney star who suffered from epilepsy and died in his sleep from a seizure. His death made me grateful for my life because that could have been me over ten years ago. When I look back at those two moments and the fact that I’m still here, it helps me to find happiness and love for myself and my life.
— Chalise Thomas
I am a strong believer in the saying that you can’t love another person until you love yourself. So, what does it mean to love myself?
Today, in this moment, I am happy. Sure, I have a mountain of work to get through, I could lose a few pounds, my boyfriend is 300 miles away; however, I am happy. I wasn’t always happy. I had to undertake some major changes in my life to get to this point.
“Once I embraced ‘being happy’ as my goal for the future, things started to fall into place.”
In the summer of 2019, I left behind my family, my home, and my life in NY to spend 15 months memorizing the Quran in Nairobi, Kenya. I left Nairobi with the wisdom and courage to make some important changes in my life. The first thing I realized was that I was not happy before I left for Nairobi. Memorizing the Quran is one the most challenging tasks; and I was happy doing it. The career path I was on for the first two years of college made me so unhappy and I didn’t even realize it.
After succeeding in memorizing the Quran, I understood that difficult tasks feel easy if you are passionate about them. I began to accept that my passion of magazine layout can become my career. I began to understand that I need to do the things that make me happy. Once I embraced “being happy” as my goal for the future, things started to fall into place.
So, yeah, today, in this moment, I am happy. To love myself means to be happy.
— Mariyah Rajshahiwala
Choosing To Love Myself!
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a pretty optimistic person. Early on in life, I began to realize that happiness is a choice. Understandably, however, that choice can be difficult and requires resilience due to the hardships of life. Even so, being happy was and still is something I always choose for myself. I can recall a time where this choice changed my life for the better! It changed the way I viewed myself completely!
Back when I was a junior in high school, I was one of the many girls who struggled with their body image. The major focus was the jiggle around my stomach and back. I remember wanting nothing more than to cut that unwanted fat off. In every reflection of myself, I would nitpick the smallest things—from a tiny curl being stubborn and out of place to the way a certain tooth of mine had ridges. I would only see myself as ugly, fat, and just utterly worthless. One day, I just became sick and tired of viewing myself in this demeaning way. I hated how the media’s standard of beauty altered the way I viewed myself. I was giving them too much power. So what did I do? I went into my parents’ bathroom, grabbed my dad’s clippers, and shaved off all my hair! It was the most liberating thing I have ever done.
Sure my innate reaction was “why the hell did I do this!” Though that next morning, after a proper trip to the barber shop, I walked down the halls of my high school with my head held high. Nobody could tell me anything! It was after that day that I chose to love myself.
— Deanna Kenner
The road to self love is full of obstacles. Sometimes there’s roadkill or potholes that impede a person from reaching their destination. I can attest that my road has been the same. Throughout my life I have had difficulty accepting myself for as long as I remember. I can recall yearning to be somebody cooler, someone who didn’t laugh as loud or didn’t have the weird music taste I did. Identity crisis isn’t even the word.
“It took friendships with former outsiders like myself to appreciate my own identity.”
I knew I was different. But I tried hard to be a chameleon. I wanted to meet the status quo in order to avoid teenage persecution. And it worked for a while, until I arrived at college. Once I came to college, I was introduced to a multitude of people, all of them unique in their own right. It took friendships with former outsiders like myself to appreciate my own identity. That acceptance was the greatest gift anybody could have given me. Now I walk with pride and acceptance of myself. I have learned to be nicer yet tougher on myself. I’m a forgetful writer who loves thrifting, is obsessed with movies and loves bright colors and nature. My road has been bumpy, but the bumps help me appreciate the smoothness.
— Kylii Clay
Living In The Moment
I am defining happiness and love in my life by enjoying the moment. I always make sure to live for what’s going on right now and never for what’s yet to come. When you characterize the specifics on what makes you happy and brings you joy, you don’t want to live in the past or the future. I make sure to always focus on taking things step by step. Once you start planning for something else you might get disappointed because maybe it was something you were not expecting or prepared for.
I define the happiness in my life by putting a smile on other’s faces when creating playlists for others to hear. Working at the radio station I work for, I make sure to play the music that makes others feel good. I define love in my life by surrounding myself with people that care for me and love me the same. Having others in your presence who uplift you will never bring you down.
— Sylah Ferguson
Platonic vs. Romantic Love
A moment in my life that I defined love and happiness for myself was about three years ago when I went through a “best friend breakup.” My friend, K, and I had met three years prior through our college roommate-matching app. We shared so many good memories and milestones in the two and a half years we lived together and were best friends. I stuck with her through multiple breakups, challenging classes, new jobs, and many young adult “firsts.” Her and I had a deep and loving connection and we made each other laugh so hard until we cried literally every day.
Eventually, I met and then started dating my now boyfriend. He is my first real boyfriend and my first love. It was all very exciting and consuming at the beginning, as these things often are. I was doing my best to balance these two very important relationships in my life, but K was starting to feel neglected.
She didn’t communicate these feelings to me until she had gotten to the point where she wasn’t open to repairing the friendship. I felt like I had to choose between my best friend and my boyfriend, who was also my best friend in that unique way romantic partners are. It was an agonizing spot to be in, because I value the female friendships in my life so much. For some of the most significant years of my life K had been my life partner, so the thought of leaving her behind, especially for a man, was upsetting. It felt like I had to sacrifice one kind of love in order to have the other. K became very cold to me, and it was devastating to feel someone who I loved unconditionally push me away instead of working things through together.
I had to sit down and have several heart-to-hearts with myself. I defined what I wanted love and happiness to look like in my relationships with friends and partners, and eventually made the decision to move out and get my own apartment. It was my first time living by myself, so it was daunting and exciting. Fast-forward to today, and my boyfriend and I have now been together longer than I had even known K. I still miss her dearly, and I have hope that one day we will find each other again and rekindle our friendship.
— Zoë Lourey-Christianson
How I Define My Own Happiness
“Recently, I have learned to distinguish pride from happiness.”
Productivity culture– the shared feeling that we all need to be achieving something at all times – makes it challenging to distinguish feelings of happiness and love from self-improvement. What we tend to forget, though, is that pride and joy are two separate feelings, and they should remain separate for this very reason.
When I graduated from college, I couldn’t help but to consider that, although I did indeed accomplish something, I was only happy because of that singular fact – I did something. It’s not wrong to feel satisfied when we achieve our goals. However, finding happiness through achievement becomes an issue when we only seek goal-oriented moments. Despite popular belief, other joy sources can make us just as happy.
The dictionary defines the word happy as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” In that case, I feel really happy when I am watching a new episode of my favorite show. I feel happy when my group of friends and I meet at one of our homes and talk for hours. I feel happy when, on the rare occasion that our work schedules don’t conflict, my parents and I can share a meal.
Recently, I have learned to distinguish pride from happiness. I feel proud of myself for accomplishing my goals, but I feel happy when I am participating in even the most mundane tasks. Doing this has allowed me to free myself from the need to constantly better myself in the hopes that I will achieve happiness. I am almost always happy, but it took a little bit of grounding to realize it.
— Mia Hollie
Feel The Love!
My love and happiness are being around my friends and family. My love and happiness are my hour-long therapy sessions every Tuesday with my amazing therapist. My love and happiness are spending the holiday with my grandmother and my aunt. My love and happiness are spending time with my friends and my boo! I say all this to say love and happiness can be anything. Love and happiness are doing anything you enjoy or being around the people you love. When you are in the presence of love and happiness, you will have a great sense of energy around you. Your conversations will run more freely, your mood will be relaxed, you will feel safe, you will feel happy, but most of all you will feel loved.
When I was growing up, I had an unorthodox family dynamic. I was raised by my grandmother and my aunt. In my opinion, they show their love, just not in verbal affirmations. Basically, I love you was said, but rarely. My aunt was younger, so I think naturally that made her seem more “loving” because we could bond over more topics.
My grandmother was also loving, we just had fewer things to communicate about. There were just some topics I knew not to go to her with. Through it all, however, she manages to make me feel like I am the most important person in her life. For that, I will forever be grateful. Amazingly, though, I turned out to be the “I love you” type…sad, I am aware!
The reason why I think I was able to turn out as loving as I am is because of the love I witnessed. I saw how my grandmother and my aunt tried their best to make me feel loved and happy. It was the little things like watching me rehearse my musical theatre performances and taking me to get Starbucks. Or, the extravagant things, like travel and treasured gifts. Now, when I search for love and happiness, I like to be around the energy that I feel around my grandmother and aunt.
You do not have to say “I love you” all the time. I just want to feel a good sense of energy around me, I would like my conversations to run freely, I want my mood to be relaxed, I want to feel safe, I want to feel happy, but most of all I want to feel the love!