Once upon a time, I fell into a rut. A fundamental, core-aching rut that would come and go as my hormones fluctuated, but deep down something didn’t sit right. A gut rut. I thought I could talk myself into being happy and that the things I was searching for probably didn’t exist anyway. Love was flawed. The fairy tale kind definitely didn’t exist, and I learned there is a fair amount you can tolerate for luxurious perks and ‘excitement.’

I resorted to reading and relating to some of the more existential feminist types and grew obsessed with writers like Joan Didion, Simone de Beauvoir, and Anais Nin. I was very successful at romanticizing my life, my drama, and my unhappiness. Glamourized moodiness. I believe this ‘struggle’ in your twenties provides a certain amount of comfort and artistic inspiration. Life went on with its ups and downs, and my rut maintained itself.

It wasn’t until I grew closer to 30 that I really started to reevaluate. This happens to so many women—you start asking yourself—”Why the f**k can’t the fairy tale exist?” You’ve exhausted yourself with the self-indulgent, nihilistic view on life and relationships. What is wrong with being happy? Having a family? Buying a house? Having pets!? I became tired of being self-absorbed, moody, and totally independent.

That transition wasn’t easy. Coming from a family that experienced tremendous amounts of sickness and sadness, I had perspective on real problems. These weren’t them. Health, aesthetic pleasures, and the pursuit of my creative dreams should be enough. I had that. Why did I need more?

In came the gratitude, around the same time as Instagram, so I was hashtagging #gratitude on everything. {Be grateful. Life could be worse (or even bad). You have so much. You’re so lucky. These are white girl problems. You have the ‘cool’ life. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.} But the feelings of uneasiness were there, and I couldn’t shake them.

I started speaking with a homeopath to give myself an outlet. I had exhausted my family and friends and needed help processing everything that I was experiencing. I truly felt a bit depressed. We spoke for several months and in one of our conversations she said: “Don’t let gratitude hold you back.”

Woah. Wake up to that idea. I thought gratitude pushed me forward? I thought gratitude was healthy? I thought gratitude was what kept me grounded? The notion that I could have been wrong about this was profound. Was my gratitude sustaining my rut? Serving as a compromise? Was gratitude manipulating me and compromising my values? The answer was yes, sort of.

Kelly Callahan, my homeopath, says it best. The article she wrote on the subject is linked here. I highly recommend taking the time to read her thoughts on the subject—a bit mind blowing.

Many things in our lives we take for granted. We must remember that. There is an endless list anyone reading this article should be grateful for. The gratitude I have for this amazing life is profound. I am still grateful for all of it, but in the future I will think twice before I let gratitude prevent me from asking for more.

Photograph by Sonya Yu.

In Your Inbox