We know we’re all guilty of it, present company very much included (Hi, me).
From the time we are kids, we are constantly dreaming about the greener grass of an age older than ours. (See: Thomas Rhett’s lyric video to “Sixteen” for a poetic synopsis of this post.) Sometimes we look up to our older siblings and pine for the day we get to go to Rated R movies alone with our own friends. Other times we compare ourselves to people our exact age who seem to be “further along” in their relationships or careers—so we spend our days on LinkedIn, or Pinterest, or Zillow, obsessing over where we want to be instead of focusing our attention on the positives of our present.
Positives like still being a college student with no adult responsibilities yet; or the ability to leave home for weeks on end without asking your partner, “…but what about the dog?”; or yet the simplest one of all that you won’t realize you missed until you don’t have it anymore: a consistent flow of peace and quiet. Absolutely no shortage of time to yourself that is free from screaming children who always seem to need something from you (god bless their little incapable hearts).
You see, the problem is: we are never, ever truly satisfied. Even when we get what we want—an apartment, a raise at work, a boyfriend or girlfriend—it’s never good enough. Now we want a house, a new job with a higher salary, or a fiancé instead.
No matter what we have, we are always looking to level-up (yes, the Ciara Tik Tok song just played in my head too). Now please don’t misunderstand me here: I am not saying we shouldn’t always strive for what we deserve. If where you are in your life is not where you could be, then fight for more. But staying stagnant and being content are two very different things. Stagnancy implies that we aren’t moving forward or changing at all; contentment means we are happy with how things are right now, and open to where the future will take us when the time is right.
Growing up happens fast, and I think it happens faster than it should because we are always looking for that next step. Okay I can drive? I can’t wait until I can legally drink. I got the job? I think I’m ready to be CEO. I finally found love, now I can’t wait to move in together…actually it’s time to get married. Just kidding, who needs a wedding when you can skip straight to the babies?! OH, IT’S TWIN GIRLS!
Trust me, I’m not pointing any fingers here. Like I said earlier, I’m definitely guilty of this myself. But it was actually my current boyfriend who taught me to just enjoy the present while we are in it. When we first started dating, I talked about marriage and kids right out of the gate, and while I always meant it as a “in the far off future” sort of way, it definitely freaked him out. And my reaction to his reaction was immediate defensiveness. Here I was accusing him of not ever wanting to marry me or be a dad, when in reality he just wanted to slow it the F down. He told me that, while he knew I was “the one”, he simply preferred to appreciate the here and now, admiring how exciting the beginning parts of a relationship can be instead of rushing it away. And now three and a half years in, we talk about getting engaged often, but never in a pressured or anticipatory way. We love living together and are just trying to enjoy these moments while they are here. So when it’s time for the next chapter, we know we’ll both be starting it on the same page.
The point I’m trying to make, coming from my own experience, is that when we stop searching for what’s next, we get the opportunity to enjoy what is now. There’s already moments in my life that I look back on and wish I had appreciated them at the time I was living it. I don’t want that to continue if I have control over it. We know all too well that life tends to keep on going—with or without our permission—and the biggest disservice we can do for ourselves is to push it along faster than it already moves. Before you know it, all you’ll have left are memories of the “good old days”, so try to capture the “good todays” while they are happening. After all, “todays” are the only for sure thing we have in the end.