By Allison Wolff
A quick google search defines joy as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” As a recent college graduate, I find myself on the other end of the conversation with fellow contemporaries having what they deem a “quarter-life-crisis.” Many go to college, switch their majors a couple times, and then graduate with a degree that they are not entirely sure how to use. Sure, there are some that go in with a solid game-plan and graduate feeling achieved and fulfilled. But I have personally found that many graduate with a sense of fear and dread due to not knowing what they are truly doing with their lives and more importantly, not knowing what truly brings them joy.
Western society and culture does not encourage one to seek out their own joys in life. Many of us have a sense of “internalized capitalism” as coined by Anders Hayden. Hayden defines the concept as “this idea that our self-worth is directly linked to our productivity.” Productivity is a loaded word in modern day. One that connotes school, work, success, and life depending on the context. Often, we as a society prioritize what needs to be done as a micro (or macro) form of survival, rather than what we would want to do. This can be seen in the college freshman that didn’t take the gap year their gut told them to take prior to school, the colleague who dreams of becoming a novelist but remains in their unfulfilling 9-5 because it’s more practical and a safer route, the mom who consistently prioritizes others’ needs before her own and is slowly losing her sense of self. You get the point.
We as individuals are multidimensional human beings that have an array of qualities and characteristics to both discover for ourselves and share with others. That little voice inside your head that’s telling you to get outside and go for a road-trip on a beautiful day is there for a reason. Many times, we ignore that voice and remain stagnant in whatever it is we’re doing. We discredit our own intuition, feelings, and emotions and deem our logical and practical minds to reign king over our actions and days.
Let me be clear: I am not saying to quit your job and act as though today is your last day to live, but I am saying to dedicate some time with yourself in order to effectively cultivate and discover your “joys” in life. Write them down, prioritize them, and make sure you’re ready to accept and receive them when they show up in your life. Like any thought or feeling, the sense of joy can often be ephemeral. Learn to become aware of it when it crosses your path and begin to cultivate a life that fosters your own joys daily. It all starts and ends with you. Follow your joy.
Allison Wolff is a Clinic Administrative Specialist at Jewish Community Services.
Jewish Community Services (JCS) is dedicated to providing programs and services that help people of all ages and backgrounds achieve their goals and enhance their wellbeing.
To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.