When we’re kids, even teenagers to a certain extent, we’re naïve of the outside world around us. Even though we have certain responsibilities, such as going to school and everyday chores, life is simpler without adult accountability. Things are (or should) be taken care for us while we’re young and growing up. We don’t know or understand the complexities of the real world yet. Because let’s face it: the real world is unfair, grinding, and above all else, systematically built against you. It’s important to let one’s childhood be unconfined from these life constituents because they’re at an age where they’re growing, learning, and oblivious to many things outside of their enclosed environment. Once you begin making the transition from adolescent to adult, things change. You become more aware and informed of the world and start to become more independent with life decisions. And it’s very easy to feel stuck in it all. Again, the world is designed to bet against you. Whether that bet is your environment, education, genetic makeup, finances, career opportunities, a global fucking pandemic, everyone faces adversaries. The challenge that we therefore face is natural: what can I do to overcome opposition in my life? This is how and why goals are made. Whether it’s short or long-term, goals give us a narrative and purpose to seek out.
The problem with trying to reach that pedestal is that many of us don’t enjoy the path along the way. We may think reaching that pinnacle will immediately solve all of our problems, but we don’t know for sure. And it’s that anxiety and dread of not knowing that can inhibit our motives for getting there. It’s why when we’re super nostalgic and think of the past, we reminisce about ‘the good ole’ days.’ And it’s why in the present we daydream about the future, to project what an accomplished and triumphant You will become. But the journey there, the present, is what we overlook, dismiss, and neglect the most. Think about it like this — we’ve all accomplished many things in our individual lives. Whether it’s a high school / college degree, a change of setting, a prosperous job, a business launch, a meaningful relationship, a creative project inception, to name a few. Did you feel and experience the satisfaction that you thought you would when it was all said and done? If you did, you understood the trials and tribulations you underwent to do something you want. If you didn’t, you were rushing life.
You kept thinking “I can’t wait to get to this time,” or “I can’t wait to be done with this,” and when that day comes… you’re indifferent. No serotonin boosts. Why? Because you weren’t living in the present. You were on autopilot mode. You were doing what you needed to do not because of the reward, but because of your perceived outcome in life after it’s completed. Life doesn’t take a 180 for you, or for anyone else, because you thought it would in your head. It’s not my intention to come off as pessimistic with any of this as well. I’ve conquered feats in the same viewpoint that things will magically be better once you finish something. For some, a college education could mean the opening portal to an array of jobs. For others, a marriage could mean the self-fulfillment answer to their loneliness. And yet, that degree could end up placing you with the same salary and position as someone without one. Or it could mean being stuck with someone in the same house only to divorce them a couple of years later. My point is this: life is uncertain. I sometimes wonder what mine or anyone’s genuine reaction would be if you could look into the future ten years from now. And regardless of what you see, and if it doesn’t change the outcome, how would you live accordingly for the next ten years? There’s an underlining beauty to the unpredictability though. It’s why we endeavor and keep pushing forward. To secure happiness in a bottle. To make life easier for ourselves and others.
There are two principles that have helped pave way to a realistic approach in doing this whole adulting thing.
First: enjoy the little things. When you look at the totality of your life, it’s a lot of months. A lot of days, a lot hours, a lot of minutes, A LOT of seconds. Sometimes when we’re doing something in the moment, we don’t really appreciate the simplicities behind it. That’s why Robert Brault’s quotes is one of my all-time favorites: ‘Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.’ Or even simpler, enjoy the little things.
Every day you ought to go to bed with a thought — what did I do today that I liked? Maybe it was a movie / TV show you watched, meeting up with a friend, grabbing lunch from a restaurant you love, writing one page to your blog, cleaning a room, having a great shift at work. Whatever it is, every day you should be able to experience something that you yourself enjoy. Sure, we all have those days where we quite literally are busy, busy, busy, and go straight to bed. It’s a piece of the work aspect of life. What’s not natural? More than often finding yourself not being able to relax, even on days with zero responsibilities. If you’re someone who’s constantly stressing away, I have news for you: that stress will kill you mercilessly. I’ve met so many people throughout my life wherein day in and day out they’re pressured above and beyond for the future they might not create. Believe me, I’ve been in plenty of anxiety-ridden times and situations where I want nothing else but for things to change. But most of life doesn’t undergo metamorphosis overnight. That’s why it’s imperative to enjoy the little stuff, and MAKE ROOM for it. Maybe that movie you saw with your friend today is the last night you’ll hang out with them for the next five years. Because who knows? You might move out the city or they might too. Or perhaps that concert you went to will be the first and last time you’ll see that artist. Who knows? Perhaps the artist passes away before you got the chance to see them. If anything, the pandemic has further elevated enjoying the little stuff before it’s all gone. When our jobs, everyday routines, and entertainment sources were soundly disrupted, how did you react? If you were only panicking and looking for the next available job, then absolutely nothing will cease you from taking pauses in your already overloaded life.
And secondly, if main character syndrome were a thing (and it probably will be), then the constructive and practical symptoms that should follow are to focus on yourself, and let others focus on themselves. Instead, many people intentionally or indivertibly influence others’ actions for their own purposes. This is so clear in so many situations. From a parent wanting their childhood to follow a certain career, to salespeople veering you to the ‘best’ investment, to a friend who tells you that you ‘can’t do it, don’t try,’ it’s empty words of wisdom that translate to blatant cynicism. Sure, sometimes a person is authentically looking out for your best interests. Yet sometimes it’s them attempting to hold you back out of THEIR sheer interest. Look back on your life for these instances. Do your parents really want you to become a doctor like them? Or do they think any other career you acquire is underneath them and their beliefs? Does the saleswoman truly believe you’ll love this handbag purchase? Or are they simply getting a bigger commission? Does your friend actually deduce that you can’t follow your creative oaths because you’ll fail? Or are they insinuating they don’t want you to get a following? In my opinion, a good role of thumb is hearing HOW they raise these questions. Do you hear worry, or bitterness? Do you hear sincere fear, or discontent? In any of the scenarios, my interpretation on guiding others is a 2-pointer: do what you want to do, and stop interpreting others’ paths. If we’re following main character syndrome, then follow it by concentrating on yourself. Quit dictating to others what they ought to do, when as already mentioned, you don’t know the outcome. Let them try things out, and encourage their efforts. It’s all about collaboration, not competition. We’re all just taking small steps at a time, there’s no need to be a roadblock on anyone’s voyage.