Joy can be many things; it can also be painful. We cannot truly experience joy when we don’t understand grief. And along the same vein, true joy also comes with hints of pain because of the accomplishments that have led us to that moment. Joy isn’t easy, and it is rarely free. And yet, although laughter and joy aren’t free, they are freeing! Just laughing, boisterously, sets off signals in the brain that can release endorphins, and lift a person’s mood.
I spend as much time as I can with my family and friends. There are times, when after a few hours of conversation we are so tired that our conversation turns into a run of bad jokes and jovial laughs. We bring up the time my cousin stole the car from my Grandma, or the incident where my best friend yelled at her professor in front of the class, calling him an imbecile. My aunt was terrified when my cousin stole the car. My best friend had to retake the class with the same professor the next semester. The situations weren’t funny. But they’re funny now. The moments we make fun of during our times of laughter aren’t to show others faults so severely, but to show the humanity in all of us. And these are the stories that can be told over and over again to show how ridiculous humans can be. My cousin doesn’t get offended. My best friend doesn’t storm off. Both of them have just as much dirt on everyone else. And that’s the beauty in pain. It can turn into joy.
When I was in middle school, I fell for a boy. Yes, an older boy. No, he didn’t fall for me. It was “unrequited,” as Shakespeare and Molly Ringwald would say. It was also hell. At thirteen, I wasn’t smooth. I wasn’t politically correct. I wasn’t circumspect. I wasn’t humble. I wasn’t a lot of things. Mainly because, well… you did just read that I was thirteen, right? So, falling in love with a boy requires that steps be taken. First, you must tell all of your friends that you love this boy after secretly swearing that you won’t tell a soul, and that you will live out your days devoted to that one creature. Second, you need to write his name all over your notebooks, all over your socks, all over your hands, all over the trees in your yard (it’s on TV!), and all over any surface that was somewhat out in the open, but also somewhat hideable on a moment’s notice. Third, you needed to obtain his number from a best friend. Fourth, you needed to call and hang up five million times. Fifth, you needed to reach the breaking point where the only thing that would save your soul would be to know if he could like you too. Sixth, you’d tell all of this to your best friend. Seventh, your best friend would tell his friend. And finally, his friend would tell your crush, and you would know. Now, I’ve already said that the love was unrequited, so you can imagine my over dramatic agony when I finally got to the eighth step.
In following all of these steps, though, I also found out who my real friends were. I built other friendships over the dramatic moments of steps 1-7. I built stronger friendships over step eight when I broke down crying, and my real friends supported me through my dramatic moments. Many of those friendships still last to this day because of the growth I experienced through that (at-the-time) heart-wrenching experience. We, of course, totally laugh, about my over dramatic moments now. Everything seems so large when you’re a teenager, and I took full advantage of those feelings at the time.
So, experience joy, and laugh often.