Deep Joy

I am happy that [REDACTED] is enjoying law school.

I am happy to have a job.

I am really happy that we have a home.

It’s a good feeling – happiness – but I haven’t found much joy in our new life quite yet.

Before law school and the discussions around moving, not moving, school ranking, loans, and everything in between, I felt happiness and experienced extended bursts of deep joy.

I’ve been trying to find that same joy lately – a joy that carries me through the day and leaves me ready to climb into bed so that I can wake up in the morning and do it all over again. The kind of joy that pushes you to want to live in every experience and be present in each moment. The overflowing well and the calm waters underneath. I mean an ocean of joy.

Happiness is a contented hum in comparison to the music of joy. It is the difference between a pre-packaged meal wrapped in plastic and the sustaining act of preparing a simmering soup and warm crusty bread to serve a gathering of friends.

I know I’ve felt that joy, and I still catch traces of it when I’m at home and on weekends but recently it feels like I’m only getting to a surface-level happiness.

There are lots of things in my life to be happy about.

I have a husband who I love and who loves me.

I have a new house that is cozy and cute.

I have a job that pays the bills and provides me and my husband with health insurance.

I have two of the best cats in the world.

I have one of the best dogs in the world.

Those are all really good things. I am very lucky to have them and I am grateful that I have them.

But I used to get a deep joy feeling from my work, and now I have a job that pays the bills and provides health insurance, and leaves me inert.

I used to dip into deep joy when I was creating something or writing something that felt just right. I got it when one of my students ambushed me with a hug in the hallway of their school.

It was a joy that came from all of the things I still have—my husband, a cozy home, three cuddly creatures—and by a feeling of purpose and passion for my work. It was a joy I felt in my whole body.

It’s not that I hate my job now—I don’t. It pays the bills and provides healthcare, and that is great. I just don’t feel inspired by it. I am mostly content, which is a far cry from joy. Content feels like a small step above neutral.

Maybe that’s normal and I never knew that this is what jobs feel like?

Maybe I was just living in a fairy tale workplace and wearing rose colored glasses.

I wish I felt passionate about my current job. But it is really hard to feel passionate about putting meetings into other people’s calendars and ordering lunch for the next small group discussion.

I know plenty of people work jobs that they aren’t passionate about. Most people probably wish they were doing something else with their lives instead of sitting at a desk and staring at computer screens all day.

I’m only a few months in, and I keep feeling like I must be missing something. There must be something to this role that I have just completely overlooked and ignored and one day it will be discovered that I haven’t done this thing for months and then I will realize that I am actually bad at my job and will be fired.

That’s probably anxiety talking, right? Probably.

When I’m not actively responding to emails, or scheduling meetings, I try watching tutorials online or reading articles and catching up on local news. Sometimes I write this blog.

I am working on taking stock of what is going well, and am searching for things that bring me deep joy between the hours of 9-5.

We have three years. There’s a chance I could find my deep joy in three years.

I know this feeling of not being happy “enough” from college. I remember when I had all sorts of things to be happy about and couldn’t figure out how to feel the joy I knew I should or could be feeling.

I know from experience that deep joy does not last forever. Things come and go in waves. A particularly low time won’t last forever and neither will life’s highs.

What helped in the past when the “lows” felt like there was no upward momentum, was going to see a therapist.

I was in therapy before we moved, and I feel like I left on a good note. I did a lot of work preparing for the move and I was ready to face it when the time came.

I never expected to be “done” with therapy. I just don’t look forward to the process of finding a new therapist.

Therapy would be good. I’ll start the search.

A gentle reminder would also be good – this is all still very new. Four months is no time at all in the grand scheme of things.

This is me, gently reminding myself – give it a year.

Take deep breaths.

There are still small joys in a sea of contentment.

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