I’ve Been Settling For So Long That Happiness Terrifies Me

I’ve been through plenty of tough times and disappointment, but life is better now. That the goals I have are attainable, my job is great, and I’m in an excellent relationship with myself — but I’m still not happy. It’s not that I’m never satisfied or ungrateful for all the amazing things in my life, it’s because I’m actually terrified to allow myself to be happy.

  1. The more I have, the more I can lose. As long as things are going well in my life, there’s always a chance that things can go horribly wrong. If I manage to attain all the things I’ve ever wanted then I can lose it all just as easily and that terrifies me. It’s easier to just settle knowing that if I haven’t gotten the best of everything, I can’t get the worst either.
  2. If I expect the worst, it’ll be easier to deal with when it happens. If I never let myself get too happy, then when the worst hits it’ll be more like an “about time” reaction as opposed to an “I can’t believe this is happening.” I don’t want to be someone who’s unable to really live in the happiness of the moment, but sometimes I can’t help myself.
  3. I’m constantly questioning my life. As soon as good things happen, I wonder to myself if it’s what I want at all. It’s like I maintain the mediocre existence that I’ve always had so that I don’t have to ever feel like this is it. It’s always good to aim higher and higher, but fear can be a real bitch when it comes to reaching for the stars. When I constantly question if the situation I’m in is still settling, I don’t have to think about going for anything else.
  4. Being used to mediocrity is a crutch. It’s pretty clear that I’m terrified of happiness because I’m not used to it, so instead of allowing myself to truly go for the things that are going to fulfill me, I use the same mindset I’ve always used so that I can always have that security blanket. I don’t want to allow anything bad to happen to me and I feel as though I have control over that by continuing to feel as if things aren’t that good to begin with.
  5. I’m conditioned to be unhappy. Because of the life I’ve had, being unhappy has become some sort of ingrained personality trait. I feel happiness, sure, but whenever I do, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because of this, I can never truly let myself feel elated because in the back of my mind, disaster will always be what follows.
  6. Mediocre was never amazing, but it wasn’t devastating either. After going through some really rough times in the past, being in just vaguely “blah” situations managed to feel like a breath of fresh air. Now that I’ve been used to settling for less than amazing all this time, I’m afraid to go for more because I know how bad things can really get. It’s almost like I feel as though going for more will undoubtedly cause things to get worse.
  7. It’s easier. Staying in my comfort zone, i.e. settling for what I already have, is easier than trying to go for gold and make my life that much better. Failure usually isn’t an option when it comes to the things I want, so if I don’t think I’m going to succeed, I don’t try. The problem with this, though, is that if I don’t leave the middle ground, I’ll never get to stand on the top of the mountain.
  8. I wonder if I even deserve to be happy. One thing that scares me the most about being truly satisfied with my life is whether or not I’ll even deserve it. I like to think I’m a good person but I have a huge problem with feeling pride. When it comes to thinking I deserve the best, I’m not always the best person to play cheerleader.
  9. If I do find overall happiness, will I have earned it? Maybe it’s just me, but I think being happy shouldn’t come easy. If it did, everyone would be ecstatic all the time and we’d become desensitized to it. Plus, it’s just not realistic. I want to be able to earn my happiness and at the risk of sounding self-deprecating, I’m not quite sure I have yet. It’s that fear that keeps from really edging towards it.
  10. What do I do when I get to where I want to be? When I do achieve everything I’ve set out to do and I can finally allow myself to be happy, is that it? Will I just be happy or will there then be more to achieve? I’m not sure if I would prefer the latter to the former because if it always takes more to be happy, then I’ll never stop to smell the roses. At the same time, I’ll never really get there either. I’ll be chasing happiness my whole life. Ugh.
Angelica Bottaro has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Trent University and an Advanced Diploma in Journalism from Centennial College. She began her career as a freelance writer in 2014, racking up bylines in The Good Men Project, MakeWell, LymeTime, YouQueen, and more. She eventually shifted her focus and began writing about mental health, nutrition, and chronic disease for VeryWell Health.

You can follow her on Facebook or check out her website at AngelicaBottaro.ca. She also posts on Instagram @a.ct._b and Twitter @angiiebee.