A reminder

After one week of staying at home, connecting with friends I haven’t seen for months, sharing and laughing with people who genuinely want to know what’s been going on with me, I’ve realised something. I’ve been a ‘Grass is greener on the other side’ kind of idiot for as long as I can remember.

A lot of us grow up believing that there’s something more waiting for us out there. Growing up is romanticised – the fact is, every age group is romanticised. Kids get to run around and play, teenagers live through high school drama and get to fall in (and out) of love, twenty-somethings enjoy parties and college life, and thirty-somethings… Well, there isn’t a lot of romance surrounding being thirty-something. Our perception as kids, fuelled largely by television shows and elder siblings, involves feeling shut-in at home with homework, scary teachers and annoying classmates you need to stay away from because they can give you ‘the cooties’. Teenagers have no perception, apart from the world sucks and life sucks and parents suck and everyone can go to hell. Twenty-somethings are too busy either partying to the point of blackout or getting married. And thirty-somethings are supposed to have “settled down” and “have their shit together”, although I genuinely don’t know what that means.

While this seems like an off-topic rant, the point I’m trying to make is that no one, at any point, sits us down and says, it’s not going to get ‘better’ as you grow older. It’s going to get ‘different’, but that’s not necessarily ‘better’. Life doesn’t magically tell us what is required of us when we reach a certain age. Society does tell you what you need to do, but society changes so monumentally in such a short period that believing anything anyone says is socially acceptable (or otherwise) seems like a waste of time. Jokes I used to laugh at as a kid are now offensive. Nicknames I used to have as a kid are now considered insulting and shaming. Everyone’s trying to be so considerate that they’re shooting themselves in the foot, and all the wokeness in the air makes me want to go right back to sleep.

You’re expected to make decisions based on your life and career at a point in your life when you haven’t experienced any of life. You have zero bases on judging whether what you’re choosing to do for a large chunk of your life is going to be useful, fruitful and satisfying. Any later, and you lose that tiny window of time in which it is acceptable to be hired and/or married and/or pregnant. If I knew at eighteen years what I know now, would I make the same choices, or choose something else? Thankfully, my gamble played out, and I do enjoy what I do, but my choices within my career would be very different.

But what makes something a good choice is the knowledge that the alternative choice would bring more misery to your life than what you’re suffering currently. And there’s no objective way of knowing that since you will never be at that point in your life again, being presented with the same options as earlier. All you can do is imagine what the outcome would be, and then gauge whether you made the right choices or not. And coming back to the ‘Grass is greener’ phrase, I involuntarily choose to believe that the choices I didn’t make would not make me as miserable as I currently am.

Logically, though, I know that the grass is greener where you water it, and not necessarily on the other side. But when you’re brought up to be dissatisfied and highly critical, you develop selective colour blindness – a weird condition where, suddenly, your eyes are unable to discern the colour of the grass underneath your feet, but show the grass on the other side of the fence to be so bright it could probably double as a massive neon light.

But knowing this, knowing that life is what you make of it, does it help? Not really. It comes at the end of two and half decades of believing that things will get better soon, that tomorrow will be better than today, that what lies ahead will be better than what I have now. So while logically, I’ve transitioned to understanding that life is truly a series of exchanging one set of problems for another, I’m still emotionally invested in a better future, while believing that I’m currently living through a series of ‘couldn’t-be-any-worse’ moments.

So what this is is a reminder to me and you, that life isn’t inherently bad or good, that the future isn’t shittier or better than what we have right now, and while ‘different’ does not equate to ‘better’, the ‘same old’ does not equate to ‘worse’. Classes with scary teachers and the end of summer holidays are as tragic as the end of the world as dictated by raging hormones, because at that age, we don’t know any different.

This is a reminder that romanticising the future is just as bad as romanticising the past – it does more harm than good, and it’s a pretty useless endeavour overall. This isn’t to say that life is a hopeless pit of chaos and we’re all doomed to live and die in misery. I personally don’t know what life is all about, but I know I’ve come as far as I have because of hope, and that’s what keeps me going.

And finally, let us all remember that the grass doesn’t get any greener than what we have under our feet, and the neon green stuff across the fence is probably toxic.

Jokes aside, though… What I do want you to remember is that life has always been tough. But the tough times have taught us the value of our rewards.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: