Do you believe in happily ever afters? You wouldn’t be the first. Once upon a time, Jill Stark herself fell prey to believing in the notion of having it all. She was living the dream. She had the job, the guy and her first book had just become a bestseller. She had her fairytale. Then it all fell apart.
Enter Happy Never After, Jill Stark’s war-cry against this notion of the fairytale ending.
Is ‘happy ever after’ a thing we can ever actually achieve, or is it an impossible goal? Jill Stark started to question this after feeling as though the relentless pursuit of happiness was making her miserable. She had everything she wanted, and yet she still wasn’t happy.
“I had it all… everything had come together, then slowly things started to unravel.” – Jill Stark
But from the epic unravelling of her life came Happy Never After – a raw, funny and uplifting exploration of our age of anxiety. Like many of us, Stark lives in a world of opportunity, choice and comfort. Yet depression, anxiety and stress are constant bedfellows.
“If you look at it from a wider cultural perspective, our entire consumerist western culture is based on that premise that we are not enough,” says Stark . “But if you buy this car or if you have enough Facebook friends, then you might just be enough … but really we’re the only ones that can fill that gap.”
“It’s sort of like we’re in a Truman-style show version of our lives,” Stark continues. “Everyone knows the plot is flimsy and the set is paper thin but we’re all playing along because we don’t want to break that fairytale spell.”
The mantra here is this: there is no quick fix or fast route to happiness.
Cheerful, we know. But don’t despair! Note the tagline of Stark’s book is ‘Why the happiness fairytale is driving us mad (and how I flipped the script)’. According to Stark, if you want to achieve real happiness then perhaps the trick lies in focusing on the journey to your goal rather than the goal itself.
“I think it’s that part of our culture where we are taught to plan for the wedding and not the marriage. We plan for the birth but not the baby. We plan for buying the home but not servicing the mortgage … it’s about the journey not the destination. That’s what I’ve discovered.”
In her spare time, Jill Stark is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of High Sobriety: my year without booze.
It was an absolute pleasure to pull at the thread of Happy Never After and see what unraveled from the pages. Listen to our full interview with Jill Stark below:
Happy Never After
Why the happiness fairytale is driving us mad (and how I flipped the script)
Jill Stark was living the dream. She had a coveted job as a senior journalist, she was dating a sports star, and her first book had just become a bestseller. After years of chasing the fairytale ending, she’d finally found it. And then it all fell apart.
Getting her happy-ever-after plunged Jill into the darkest period of her life, forcing her to ask if she’d been sold a lie. What if all the things that she’d been told would make her happy were red herrings? Could it be that the relentless pursuit of happiness was making her miserable?
From the ashes of Jill’s epic breakdown comes this raw, funny, and uplifting exploration of our age of anxiety. Charting her own life-long battles with mental-health problems, Jill asks why, in a western world with more opportunity, choice, and wealth than ever before, so many of us are depressed, anxious, and medicated. When we’ve never had more ways to connect, why do we feel so profoundly disconnected?...
About the Contributor
Before entering the exciting world of books, Bronwyn served in the Royal Australian Air Force, travelled extensively and worked (still does!) as a barista on the weekends. Books are her true passion. Bronwyn's debut fantasy novel Relic is coming out in 2019 with indie publishing house Talem Press. They are to publish her entire trilogy called The Relic Trilogy. In her spare time, Bronwyn writes, reads and enjoys keeping fit (which she undoes by eating loads of chocolate) with Martial Arts and personal training. She can't answer what her favourite book is but she has a soft spot for Peter Pan (J.M Barrie), Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), Stardust (Neil Gaiman), The Illuminae Files (Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman) and Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo). Fantasy, sci-fi and YA make up the majority of her bookshelves.