Nexus File Photo

It takes me approximately four hours and fifteen minutes to get from my home in San Jose to my home in Isla Vista, given traffic is good.

Occasionally it takes longer, but the drive is nice. The road is mostly straight and scenic, and I’ve come to learn the best (and safest) places to stop for a bathroom or food break. And at the end of it all, I grow a grin on my face as I whiz by sign telling me that the next exit takes me to UCSB.

A lot of people I know came into UCSB the same way I did: unenthusiastic. I wanted to go out-of-state, spread my wings and fly far, far away from home.

But just like most of those same people, I fell in love with the campus and community. I found a home where I wasn’t looking for one, where the sunsets become more beautiful by the day and the mismatched buildings on campus now hold a place in my heart (Storke Tower especially).

I didn’t realize until this past summer how happy I was to be here. It wasn’t even an overt kind of happiness — it just existed within me until I took the time to notice it.

And I think that’s the only way you should strive to be. Seeking out happiness, in its most extreme, all the time, has only left me in deep depressive states when things didn’t work out the way I pictured them. My idealistic, hopeless romantic self suffers when my high expectations aren’t met.

I just became more miserable telling myself that I wasn’t doing things right when I spent nights wondering whether I’d ever feel at home here.

I’ve been searching for happiness for a really long time. Very actively, searching for something that would make me happy. For a while, I thought it was something I would find in another person. So I turned to boys, equating sex with affection with love.

That didn’t work out well.

I think my failures lie in straining so evidently to be the kind of happy that I’ve seen reflected in every piece of media produced about college ever. Be best friends with your roommates (only sort of halfway accomplished this), spend all your free time at the beach (I’ve been less than ten times in the last year) get blackout drunk with your friends (terrible decision).

I just became more miserable telling myself that I wasn’t doing things right when I spent nights wondering whether I’d ever feel at home here.

Then, I had my eureka moment ten hours north of here, in Eureka, California.

My friend had taken a chance on a job up north, in a small town and far from friends, after a summer of searching. When I visited him, he was so happy that I almost didn’t recognize him. The job, the town and the people turned out to be perfect for him. He found happiness when he wasn’t even looking for it.

But it was the way he described it that surprised me.

He talked about how he didn’t even feel happy; he just felt relief that he didn’t feel emptiness anymore. There was no sadness or despair anymore. That’s what I want to strive for.

As I write this, I’m sitting on my favorite couch in the Nexus office (it’s the floral one), wrapped in a comfy blanket and I’m surrounded by people I love and people who love me. And this isn’t an inherently happiness-inducing activity. But I’m here, just content with the way things are.

A week from now, I’ll probably be in an entirely different state of mind. But when I look back at this time, as a whole, I won’t remember watching our sports editor Omar Hernandez attempt to shoot paper balls in our trash cans and fail miserably, or our news team attempting to take cute photos for our social media campaign or our artsweek editor Zoe Jones and I exchanging complaints and tips about veggie burgers in I.V.

I’ll just remember that everything felt okay. And that’s good enough for me. 

Sanya Kamidi wants you to rethink the meaning of pursuing happiness.

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