Steph Marinelli ’25, Managing Editor

I have never understood the saying “happiness is free.” If that were truly the case, attaining it wouldn’t require any effort. There wouldn’t be a price to pay. But by the nature of original sin, we have created a world that demands a fee. Lust, greed, vanity, and even gluttony play major roles in our current societal standards. And if you fall outside this “norm,” be prepared to endure bullying, judgment, and even failed relationships. Thus, when someone hits you with the old “Cheer up, there’s no reason for you to be sad right now!,” kindly express that the devil doesn’t take sick days.

Along these lines, it’s not uncommon for well accomplished individuals, more specifically, teenagers, to contemplate or commit suicide (Spitzer, 2016). But why? They had “everything going for them!” Well, that’s exactly it. [1]As parents, coaches and peers recognize this potential, they urge them to remain consistent in their efforts, for hopes of “being the best among the best.” But psychologically, this tells the teen that failure is not an option and is something to be looked down upon. Now, with the constant fear of “messing up” and disappointing those who “just want the best for them,” these individuals feel chained to their craft, with no sense of purpose outside of it. [2]In addition, social media apps like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are used by others to promote the best aspects of their lives, which may often be fabricated. This, in turn, makes it much easier for one to compare their successes to someone else, which promotes feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. Furthermore, a cycle of constantly “wanting what you don’t have” can create or worsen existing depression. [3]But what happens if you aren’t truly passionate about your craft to begin with? Do you stand up to your peers only to potentially disappoint them and crush their dreams of your success? Or do you continue down a path of self-destruction in order to make everyone else happy? While the first option is obviously best for the individual, the potential aftermath (failed relationships, disconnect) may be too painful for them to bear, causing the unspeakable.

In other cases, some of these individuals become exactly who they were afraid of, those who said they simply weren’t good enough. And as a response to this trauma, they resort to belittling people who aren’t as far ahead, [4]out of insecurity and hopes that it will build up their own fragile ego (Spitzer, 2016). I mean, what better way to be happy than recognizing “you’ve got it good” in comparison to others? Or if you’re feeling down, at least you’ll remind them that they shouldn’t be any happier than you! But the aggressor isn’t entirely at fault here. [5]The American “hustle culture,” which is a distinctive quality in comparison to other countries, promotes NEVER being satisfied with anything you do, even when you are “the best.” You are taught to keep a watchful eye out for competitors, and never be “too nice” to someone who could jeopardize your progress. This mindset considers those who are less fortunate to be “content” with their lives, rather than trying to “constantly improve,” which creates an army of intolerable, selfish individuals, who haven’t found personal peace just yet. [6]Furthermore, the ignorance that comes along with monetary privilege divides people into classes, which blinds us from automatically seeing others as equal.

My idea of happiness certainly includes hardship and immense struggle. I must learn to fight against all that sin has brought into the world, while trying to remain at peace with myself and others. It’s a balancing act, but nothing I can’t handle.


Spitzer, R. J. (2016, July 18). Happiness: The Workbook. Ignatius Press.