Which is your favorite Kanye: Sad Ropes Course Kanye, Angry Kanye, White Devil Voice Kanye? For me, it's easily Happy Kanye. He doesn’t smile often—at least anymore— but when he does, it is oh so glorious. His smile reminds me of my first kiss or the first time I had a medium-rare steak or the time I scored the first points for my team in the South Carolina Basketball State Championship Game off of an "and one." All those moments were pure highs, elation that is hard to force or recreate and, as each year passes, harder to really remember. But through Kanye's smile all is possible. After years of being worn down and being misunderstood, it seems that Kanye only reserves his smiles for true moments of pure joy. No longer is he wasting a gums-and-pearly-white-plus-diamonds flashing on feigned reactions and forced conversation. Kanye's smile is a modern day unicorn that, if I'm being honest, we probably don't deserve.
Having methodically studied Kanye over the past few years, I've come to notice that he is at his happiest when he is eating ice cream on a cone. Kanye West has much more to deal with than me or you, but it seems like he carves time out of his busy schedule to eat ice cream, specifically ice cream on a cone. In those moments, he is at peace. His chi becomes centered. It is important to him for whatever reason. Because this is important to Kanye, it is important to us.
As you age, an ever-growing chasm forms between your happiness and your responsibilities—there is no rope bridge, only sadness. The plate tectonics of "growing up" fiercely collide, creating a nearly un-trekable mountain range that separates you from prosperity. We often fall into jobs we would rather not have that pay decent enough to make us forget about the fact we'd rather not have them. What a truly magnificent world we exist in. To all you college students with overly optimistic "STRIVING FOR MY GOALS #SUCCESSISMYDESTINY" bios on Twitter: Good fucking luck. Shit rarely works out without extreme compromise.
I have a normal job as a search engine marketing manager. Essentially, I am responsible for the ads that show when you search on Google and Bing (JK, no one uses Bing) and the image ads that follow you around the Internet after you looked at a pair of shoes two weeks ago, urging you to return and buy them. It should be noticed that I fell into this career. I got a very useless English degree, then a job as a SEO copywriter, then learned SEO, then got a better paying job as an SEO copywriter. Eventually, the person responsible for SEM at my company took a weeklong vacation and never returned. I was tasked with learning SEM on my own and figuring out what the hell the last dude was doing day-to-day. I learned and subsequently found a better-paying job doing the same thing I was doing, but on a much larger scale. Of course, I didn't say at four years old that I wanted to either be a ringmaster or an SEM manager, but that's how the real world works. Life provides you with opportunities that may better for your situation, but not necessarily in line with your passions.
But, at the end of the day, it's about energy. What replenishes your limited deposits? What is your manna?
I spend my free time writing silly think pieces such as this one and listsicles because I love creating content more than anything in this godforsaken world. I know that being in a cubicle is soul-crushing, but when you read something that you connect with you can, if just for a moment, forget about the fog of sorrow that engulfs your existence. I know this because I fucking live it. I love executing an idea no one else would think of and executing it well. What you are reading is me moonlighting. I write between the hours of 11pm and 3am. Why? Well, I wake up at 7am to get to work by 8am, then work until 6pm, then have dinner with my family and play with my daughter until she goes to bed at 8pm, then I hang out with my wife to actually figure out how her day was/be alerted to any financial pitfalls on the horizon/improve my marriage and then wait until she falls asleep to write. I simply cannot and will not sacrifice time with my family. However, I am infinitely happier when I have a creative outlet. I'd much rather run off two hours of sleep after writing something than get 10 hours of sleep after not writing anything. Creating content invigorates my soul. It is important to me. Because this is important to me, it is important to you.
Finding the thing that unequivocally sparks joy in your very being is difficult, but it is imperative. You probably know what it is, but haven't pinpointed it exactly. Work to narrow it down. Pour hours into chasing that jubilance. I created content for four years before being paid for it. I'm in my fifth year and have opportunities that I could have never imagined. It's difficult to balance the full-time normal path of life with the part-time path of pipe dreams. But, at the end of the day, it's about energy. What replenishes your limited deposits? What is your manna?
It doesn't matter not how dumb or trivial your "thing" is. All that matters is that you find it.
You see, my friends, there is no North Star that illuminates the night sky to safely guide you on your treacherous path through the darkness that is life. There is only the dim glow of a faint twilight—a faded happiness—with just enough lumens to show you when you are about to step off a cliff. The world is actively working to crush your spirit. Our only chance at prolonged glee is to find the one thing that makes us happy and incorporate it into our lives as much as possible. Find your ice cream cone and never stop licking. Never. Stop. Licking.
Justin Roberson is drunk and taking selfies in Aruba. Be jealous by following him on Twitter here.