Friday, November 29, 2013

Life...really is what we make it.

I've been thinking a lot about life lately, it's imperfections, where I am, where I want to be. If I chose, I could be really down on my own life. I mean, it's certainly not perfect. I'm working in retail, 12-20 hours a week (and only really occasionally 20 hours), making a little more than minimum wage, in a job where I'm uncertain if my managers value me. I don't bring home enough money to adequately take care of my finances, and I don't have much spending money to do all the things I want to do. The vast majority of my friends live far away from me, and I see them far less than I'd like to. I don't love where I live either, because I'd much prefer to have a bit of green space and a place to hang a hammock.

But I have to remember that the choices I made are what got me here. I spent my 20s as a wanderer, a free spirit, traveling wherever my whims took me. If I hated a boss, I'd quit that job and find another. If I wanted to be somewhere else, I would go. What I achieved in this time was not a perfect resume, but a wealth of life experiences. I met amazing people and saw wonderful places. If the trade off is that those amazing people are far away, then I'd prefer that over never having met them. If a downside is that I'm working in a position below my experience, trying to stay sane enough to work my way up into a better position, then I'd rather have that than never have seen the places I've seen.

But it's hard, in the day to day, to remember this. Especially now, when the world seems to be filled with so much material desires. It's easy to get down on myself. I could feel like a failure, being 35 and in the position I'm in. But I'd have to forget that I worked hard to create my own business that was successful, even if it ended up being not what I wanted. I could lament my lack of serious, long term relationships, but I'd have to forget all the wonderful days spent on the road, seeing a new part of the country. And the truth of it is, my life is in my control, but so is my happiness. It may have taken me some time to devise a plan and to figure out how to fit in and make it work, but it's within my control to stick to that plan and see it through. I could spend my days, claiming the world owes me a living, blaming other people for the time it took for me to figure out how to fit in. I could continue to bitch about the imperfections in the world, the people who don't see me for who I am, the hours and wages that I deserve.

But I think it's easy to make life awful and much harder to make life perfect for me.

So what I choose to do is to make life perfect for me. I choose to accept that the wonderful experiences I had put me in the place I am now. I choose to give my bosses the benefit of the doubt and understand why they can't see that my colorful past makes me perfectly qualified for a better position but that I'll have to prove to them just what I have. I choose to utilize modern technology to keep in touch with my friends and to value phone calls, text messages, e-mails, and social networks. I choose to recognize that though they are far away and I may see them only every few months, once a year, every few years, or maybe haven't even met them yet, that the way we communicate is valuable and enriching. I choose to find activities like geocaching that fill my free time but cost very little and can still fulfill me. I set personal goals, like running, and I accept the time it takes to save up for the race and the trip at the end of my training. I decide that this is going to fulfill my need for challenges that I may not currently find elsewhere. I choose to make the most of the friendships close to home, to give acquaintances a chance, and to work at new friendships, instead of hiding out wishing older friends were closer. Some days, I lie in bed, and enjoy something as simple as watching tv, allowing that entertainment to make me happy for the time being. I decide that this life is going to be good enough and I'm going to be happy with it.

I'm not saying it's perfect or easy. I don't deny the bad days where I just want to wallow in despair at what life could've been. But the thing is, if I continue to look only at what I wish I had, at what I think I deserve, and I ignore that around me that is available for me to enjoy now, then life would just be way more awful. I don't want life to be awful, so I choose to feel good about what I have.

Maybe that's painting a more optimistic picture than reality, but it's definitely what gets me through. And the more I work at it, the more I find that those little things actually do fulfill me and make my life better. I find that I can comfortably live with less and still enjoy life. I find that I've created a life full of little joys that add up to overall happiness, and honestly, that is a great place to be.


  1. Reminds me of a Lenten talk I heard at Grace. The gist was that living a "small" life in Wadsworth, Ohio, is perfectly good. It isn't necessary to accomplish "big" things. It is enough to enjoy your family, friends & faith in every day life without guilt that you haven't accomplished more or met some artificial standard of success.