Every morning when I get to work there’s a elderly man waiting outside of his car to say hello to me. He’s a school bus driver and he is so damn happy no matter the time or weather. When I go away on vacation or for business and return, he greets me even more dramatically, worried and wondering why I was gone for a little while. Some days he simply says “hello,” others he says “good morning beautiful girl.” But he always there and he is always smiling.
For many mornings I avoided him. I’d roll my eyes when I pulled into the parking lot and do my best to pretend I didn’t see him. Most days I’m miserable when I show up to work and I couldn’t stand how happy he was.
My whole life I’ve tied my self worth to my accomplishments. How perfect or close to perfect I could be. I’ve done everything right, fearing disappointment and authority most of my life. Student council president, valedictorian, student of the year, head orientation leader. For years I joked that I never desired to get married or have children. That my career would be my life, that I would be the next Oprah. So it’s only natural that when I started my first job in the professional world I threw myself into it. I let it become my whole life. I let it become what defined my self worth. The successes and failures dictate how I felt about myself.
When we meet someone one of the top three questions we ask is typically “what do you do?” Not “what excites you?”, or “what’s important to you?”, but “what do you do for a living?”
It drives our conversations, it is often at the centre of how we perceive others, and more importantly how we perceive ourselves. So when this man, who drives a school bus for a living, was always smiling and happy, and I, a young professional with a rising careers, getting to travel the world for my job was so beyond miserable I just couldn’t take it. Shame on me for thinking that way.
Happiness is a conscious choice each and every day. It’s something you have to fight for and remind yourself of often. My job is wonderful for many reasons, and not so great for many others, but at the end of the day it is not what drives me.
I have the most wonderful family and friends. I love to read. I love being out in nature and hiking the trails near my home. I love going to the local yoga studio then walking down to the farmers market after class. I love cooking. I love writing.
I don’t want to be the type of person who is so focused on building a career that I forget to build a life.
Life is far too short to waste time being unhappy or miserable over a situation you can change. I may never become the VP of Marketing as I once had hoped and I know now that that is not even necessarily what I want, but I know I’ll be successful in many other ways.
Today I want to be a little more like the bus driver. I want to wake up each morning excited and smiling, knowing that just getting to show up for work is a blessing. Knowing that at the end of the day it is not the title on my business card, or even my role itself that defines me.
None of that matters.
It is the love I get to share and experience with those I choose to surround myself with. It is the joy in the simple moments in life that I’ve forgotten to appreciate while I’ve been so fixated on work. It’s the kindness of strangers that reminds me that happiness is always within reach, that we are always deserving of it, and that we need to choose it always.