It’s strange. I’ve only ever managed to enjoy anything when I began to let go of the idea of happiness. I’m not arguing against happiness here (though I have made attempts to do so elsewhere), and I won’t claim that happiness is undesirable (a claim that I do not yet have a coherent opinion on). But, I do believe for certain that the idea of happiness, the expectation of happiness, is damaging. In an environment where we are constantly told how happy we are, happiness has become an imperative.
It would be tedious to compile a list of emotions allowed on campus to prove my point. What I can do quickly is say that I know that there are certain things that I, as a student, am not supposed to feel here, certain things that are supposedly at odds with my identity as a student.
One of those things has been grief.
Faye Wang’s piece on mental health in the Claremont Colleges hit home for me.