Happiness?

My dad and I had another philosophical conversation today.  Since I was talking to my therapist about medical transition, and doing more research about it, I was again thinking about my reasons of doing this.  Is it because I think it will make me happy?  Am I unhappy now?  If I can be happy without transition, why would I want to go through with the challenges of it?  Isn’t my desire for my body to look more male just a social construction?  I’m planning to look over some stuff I wrote about this a while ago.

While I did not bring up transition specifically in my conversation with my dad, that’s what I was thinking about in my head.  Theoretical and philosophical thinkings go much better for me when I have a concrete example in my head.  This is why Queer Theory was such a hard class.  I am going to use an example to talk about our discussion now, even though we often did not have an example.

I want to work at a summer camp in Northern Minnesota.  It will be so great working there, and I will be so happy.  I’ll make great friends, and be canoeing.  But if I don’t get this job, I will be unhappy.  This job is the key to my happiness.

This is called “clinging,” and often leads to “suffering.”  My dad and I try to stay away from clinging, because it just makes us unhappy in the long run.  Turns out I did not get that job, and I was pretty set on it too.  But this was also after I was set on getting a job working at my college this summer, and that fell through.  I actually was extremely unhappy, and suffered because I was so set on the idea of working at school.  In order to keep that from happening again, I reworked my way of thinking.

I want to work at a summer camp in Northern Minnesota.  I think it would be a really fun job, since I would be doing many things that I enjoy.  If I do get the job, I know that I won’t be completely happy forever, because I always encounter challenges in life.  This is nothing new, and I am okay with it.  There is also a distinct possibility that I will not get this job.  There are other applicants, and I am applying late in the hiring season.  I don’t particularly want that to happen, but I accept the possibility that it might.  This event may lead to other opportunities and allow me to do other things that I enjoy.  Neither of these two outcomes — that I will get the job, or I will not get the job — will stop me from applying.

This reworked way of thinking about the situation doesn’t mean that I will be happy or unhappy.  It just means that I will be okay, no matter what.  I can still prefer one outcome.  I can still work toward making it happen.  But I am not clinging to the idea.  I am still in control of my emotions and thoughts about what is or is not under my control.  This is basically mindfulness.  It’s pretty hard to do though.  I really do try.  But it’s not something I could turn on and feel deep down when I was upset about not getting the summer job at school.

Not clinging to the idea of an event occurring in the future does not mean that you cannot want it, and that you cannot work toward it.  Mindfulness means that you are really thinking through what you want, why you want it, and finding a way to be…not ‘happy,’ but, okay.  Fulfilled?  Satisfied.

I decided to go to a really challenging high-end college because I thought it would make my life more fulfilling.  It came at a great cost though, literally.  But I decided that it would be worth it.  I could have gone to a less challenging school (to me – I don’t mean to be stuck up) and been satisfied, but my life at a more challenging school I predicted to be more fulfilling.  I knew that attending this college would not make me happy and wouldn’t not solve all my problems or make the rest of my life easy peasy.  I could have been satisfied at another school.  But I really didn’t want to.

My parents made the huge decision to move to another town, completely uprooting themselves from a community in which they had lived for at least ten years.  This was the same sort of major decision.  They did not want to live in my hometown, and they could not live their lives as fully there as they could here, in the new town.

I think surgery and hormones are the same sort of thing.  It is a really big decision.  Society and other people factor into this decision.  It will take a lot of hard work, and a lot of money, to make it happen.  But I don’t want to do it if I do not have a productive mindset.  Clinging to transition will ultimately leave me feeling unsatisfied, and I don’t want that.

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