I saw a post on pintrest the other day that talked living for the future.
The post was copied from Twitter and read: “I feel like I’m constantly worrying about the next part of my life without realizing that I’m right in the middle of what I used to look forward to.” It’s been making it’s rounds around the internet lately, and for good reason. We spend high school looking forward to our 20s. Then we spend out 20s looking forward to “real adulthood” when we are established in a career, maybe own a home and have kids… I know I did. But now I’m closing out my 20’s and realize, I am in the middle of what I used to look forward to.
We are constantly told what our lives should look like.
Many of us had a clear path laid out for them since early childhood. You graduate highschool and go to college. You graduate college and start working. By your mid-20s you get married and start having kids in a suburban neighborhood, and retire at 65. For many of us, life hasn’t worked out like that neat outline. The economy was unpredictable, leaving many us unable to find the jobs we were promised, and student loans were steeper than expected. Many of us clung on to the dream we were sold. We were told what we should want, only to find out we couldn’t have it. As a result, many young people, turned adults, felt hopelessly behind. As they continued to chase a fantasy, they don’t realize that their reality is passing them by as well.
It’s good to have a dream.
There’s nothing wrong with having goals and ambitions. They can give some people a sense of purpose and fulfillment, especially if they flexible. When made too rigid, they can also make some people obsessive and depressed. For some people, dreams become blinders. All they can see if the finish line, so they run forward, but what happens after they end that race? Are there more competitions to come, or is that the end? What else is there to live for?
Many of us end up in the race, but we don’t know what we’re running toward.
When “The American Dream” became unattainable for most millennial, we still stayed on the track. We hasn’t been taught anything else, so we kept running in circles. Years passed by, but we kept running- but we didn’t go anywhere. If we slowed down, we might have found the open gate that lead to open fields. I didn’t find the gate until I became so exhausted from running that I collapsed. Taking a medical leave of absence forced me to look slow down and gave me the grace to look at my surroundings. It made me live in the moment so I could recover, and then decide if I wanted to run again.
I still find myself itching to race.
There is something exhilarating about the rat race, especially if you are winning. Sometimes I like to imagine a future with power, money, and glamour. Other times I imagine a quiet existence with a cozy home, a typewriter, and no stress. I think about how my life could be “better” or how I could be “happier”. I think about how things should change so I can reach those ideals, and find myself neglecting the life I already built.
It’s easy to forget that we have.
Have you ever noticed that you can a closet full of clothing, or a shelf full of books, apps full of movies, and still feel like you don’t have enough? I think life is like that. You get so used to what you already have, that you feel like having more will make you happier. But, at the end of the day, that old sweater is still the first thing you reach for when you get dressed, you keep re-reading the same book, and you watch the same show you’ve binged 100 times. Maybe we should be doing that with life: stop and appreciate the parts of our life that’s familiar and comfortable. The parts that excited us most when it was still new, and the parts we don’t want to change.
I want to live in the middle.
Skipping to the next part means skipping over the good that’s already here. Sometimes life sucks, I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t. There are many parts of my life that I wouldn’t repeat, and I made it through by looking to the future. Now, I really am in the middle of what I once looked forward to. My reality is what I used to dream, I’m not going to waste it worrying over what’s next.