Build your own brand of happiness

Kate McCarthy

My last summer before college was a weepy one. Wracked with nerves, I welled up at random from June through August — during a nighttime jog, while watching a YouTube compilation of 30 Rock bloopers, reading a text from my Dad that simply said, “Thanks pal.” My confidence was shaky because I had no way of knowing whether or not moving from San Francisco to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota was the right decision. I just wanted all the answers, and quick.

Now — a year later — I could not be more content with my decision. Allowing myself to dive in and carve out an unexpected life in a new city was the best way to allow myself to develop as a person.

It’s scary letting your dreams change and become fluid. We’re all adamant about deciding who we are, what we want and what we’re supposed to do — leaving very little room to entertain other interests and passions.

I had not envisioned myself moving to the Midwest and I thought I’d strictly pursue a career in theater. Now, on late Friday nights, strolling across the Washington Avenue Bridge with my weirdo pals, I smile to myself — taking in the staggering cityscape and thinking ahead to my shift at the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre, or a new set of jokes to try at my next open mic. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Spoken like a true American Beauty knockoff, it’s truly cathartic realizing you can still surprise yourself, allowing life’s peaks and valleys to flow through you. I’ve made the most out of a whole new city by deciding consciously to build my own brand of happiness. Going into the new year, I am trying to center myself with this adage: work hard, stay open, and before you know it, a beautiful life-web will be spun before your eyes.