The Truth About Bliss: It’s a Journey of Dedication into Disintegration.
We chase our ecstasies as if bliss is a switch that gets flipped after you cross all the things off the to-do list.
We pursue it up mountain tops, through bass-throbbing clubs, and into the arms of strangers.
We chase it up the corporate ladder. Through late, overworked nights. In high heels and constrictive ties, we push and we push and we push and push.
All the while, the answer is clutched in the claws of our monster-beauty truths: bliss can’t be bought or earned, it’s not only about getting the right kind of work, or traveling, or any of those other things “live your bliss” is carelessly strewn over on Pinterest pictures. It’s being in the state of your truth.
Nothing pains me more than hearing my favorite Joseph Campbell quotation thrown around like so much cliché, copied with complete disregard for the lifetime of work that is intended behind it. As if self-actualization and achieving upper-middle-class-hood are synonymous.
Lifestyle choices and posed pictures are much easier than the spiritual exhalation of releasing your authenticity from constrictive societal expectations. If you are called to anything, it is to refuse to conform to, and instead enact change in, a world that demands unquestioning servitude.
You can’t “follow your bliss” without the hero’s journey, and the hero’s journey is filled with purposefully torturous plot twists. It involves dying, going into the underworld, failing painfully and repeatedly. In doing so, you evolve through your greatest fears, learn to appreciate your present, and refine wisdom.
You’ll wonder why the hell you are doing it, but will still be happier then you ever were when you were trying to box yourself into being someone else.
Sometimes, as a result of that growth, your life disintegrates into a mess while you sort out what is worth keeping around and what is worth discarding. Sometimes growing up means letting go of people you love. You may even discover that your truth doesn’t look the way you expect it to. The person working in a record store may be closer to evolution than the person at the expensive Yoga retreat.
Transformation and soul-shifting is heavy, worthy work that doesn’t regulate itself to when you’re ready for it. Whatever chaos you may find yourself in the center of is perfectly choreographed for your growth, so that you can show up differently in the world.
There have been countless times since I quit my day job to dedicate myself to my re-creation as a professional songwriter that I have genuinely wished I had been called to somewhat more societally valued and conventional work. I still want all of the things other people want, I just know that until I’ve undergone the transformation work to be my full authentic self, none of those will sit easily with me.
I spend a lot of time hanging out in my discomfort so that I can root it out. It doesn’t translate well to Instagram.
So maybe you’re in the middle of your journey and your best-laid plans have gone up in smoke. You’re hustling but not hitting your goals. You’re going to bed exhausted every night because it feels like you are physically fighting your demons. All that synchronicity that got you started seems to have dried up.
You’re thinking maybe you’ve made a wrong turn, or were a serial killer in a previous life, and this is your punishment. You’re seeing all of these beautiful pictures with gossamer phrases scrawled on top of them and they taunt you instead of inspiring you. It’s tempting to run back to the world you’ve always known, because staying means believing in yourself in a way you have never had to before.
It’s ugly, terrifying, and messy, but this is part of creating a real life happily ever after.
We all love sunsets on tropical beaches, and many of us crave the sense of freedom we think world travel will bring, but that is the Disney-fied, safe-for-children version of “following your bliss.” Instead, have the courage to unleash your deepest truths. Choose to consciously curate the person you are meant to be. It’s not sexy work, but in the end, it’s the only work that matters. Be brave, beloveds.
Allie LaRoe doesn’t believe in dumbing down for anyone: not in her music, and not in her writing. That’s not to say she is inaccessibly intellectual. Rather, Allie believes people are capable of (and are not so secretly craving) so much more than 45-second soundbites and lowest common denominator pop stars. Pulling from philosophy, psychology, and experience, her work often feels like staying up till 2 am with close friends and a bottle of good wine. You can read more of Allie’s writing here.