“But if we are to find real and lasting happiness in our lives, we need to abandon our obsession with hunting the highs and resisting the lows, and discover the hidden secrets of the ‘calm’.” – Fearne Cotton, Happy.
Is it just me who feels like their twenties are an ‘in-between stage’?
Recently, I have been finding myself looking back on life in high school and college with these sickening, rose-tinted glasses and an “oh-weren’t-things-so-much-easier-then” attitude (which is ridiculous when I pause to think logically, remembering how hellish being in Year 9 actually was). I have also caught myself becoming obsessed with looking forwards to a few years down the line, into an imaginary future, satisfied that only then is when I will be truly happy.
In short, as long as I am not here, now, in the present, I am convinced that everything will be bliss. During this strange year of uncertainty, I can only imagine that these kind of thoughts have frequented even more twenty-somethings’ minds than usual. We have every reason to hate the way we are stuck living right now, but the only way our minds seem to be able to ‘fix’ that is by daydreaming about how it used to be pre-pandemic, or how it will be come 2021.
I’ll be happy when I’ve lost the weight that I’ve put on since starting university. I’ll be happy when I meet the one. I’ll be happy once I’ve graduated. I’ll be happy when I have submitted the essay for a module that I am hating. I’ll be happy after I have handed my notice in at the part-time job that is sucking the life out of me. I’ll be happy when I can go on a night out and dance with my friends again.
Will I? Or will I just find new things to wish for in this way, instead?
Whilst being able to sit back, reflect, understand that you are unfulfilled, and then grow and aspire for more, makes you incredibly self-aware and means that you are always ready to shed a skin that no longer fits you, ignoring what you have (and constantly wishing for better) undermines the fantastic version of yourself that has gotten you to the very point that you are at today.
Someone recently told me that, if, as a young teenager, I met myself now, she would think that I was cool as fuck. Without sounding like I have the biggest ego ever, they were absolutely right. I’d never thought about it before, but doing so really put things into perspective.
Look at you, thriving in a big city! I see you, studying for that Drama degree, strutting down the street and blasting Fleetwood Mac through your headphones. You’re writing part-time, wearing the flared trousers you were always too scared to, heading towards a 1:1, and working in a bookshop? You have hit the jackpot, baby!
Why is that not enough? Why do I have to focus on the negatives, look into my past and future for the positives, make myself miserable, and completely ignore the calm of now?
Instagram has taught us that everyone is having the time of their life all of the time. Realistically, we know that this isn’t the case. But, when you see square after square of people candidly laughing whilst out pumpkin picking with their friends, your sister sipping perfectly crafted hot chocolates with cream on her nose, and your course-mates wearing flawless outfits every day, you start to think that nobody cares if you’re having the time of your life watching Strictly Come Dancing with an oven-cooked pizza on a Saturday evening. It doesn’t conform to the idealistic life that fits into that all-too-perfect grid, so it’s not good enough.
Well, I’ve had enough.
I’ve promised myself that from now own, I am going to make something special out of the mundane, and start living in the now, and for the smallest of reasons; it’s the only way that I will never, ever be disappointed! Admittedly, at first, you have to really look for those little pockets of calm. (I remember scoffing to myself whilst doing the hour-long walk to university in a thunderstorm and reminding myself to find the beauty in it: “you’re a wanker, Morgan!”) But soon enough, it became second nature, and I found myself absolutely relishing in the most human things, just because.
I know, this kind of thing sounds smushy. I hate myself for writing all of this, too. But, honestly, feeling like I am on cloud nine because I managed to make my cup of tea just the right shade of brown feels so much nicer than thinking myself into oblivion and wishing to be anywhere other than where I am stuck.
Let’s stop neglecting the present. It is the only thing that determines the future that we spend so much time daydreaming about. If we appreciate who we are, what we have, and how we got here, our minds will stop going into overdrive (or at least slow the process down) and give us a bit of peace and quiet, which – after 2020 – I’m sure we all need.
Words by Morgan Hartley.
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