Growing up, some of my classmates always seemed to be going to some party at some kid’s house in the country having a bonfire, or driving around on back roads doing God knows what. I was sad because I was often left out of these activities…and not always because they didn't invite me; sometimes – often, actually – I just wasn’t allowed to go, as there were probably illegal activities involved, such as underage drinking.
“There’s so much more in life to look forward to than Friday night,” my mom would say.
She’s right, of course, but my impressionable mind took her way too seriously.
Unfortunately, that meant I spent most of my time looking forward to things, and not spending enough time enjoying the present.
"I'll be happy when..." became how I started so many of my sentences. I'd be happy when the term paper was turned in. The ACT was taken. I'd picked a college. I started college. That exam was over. The big project was turned in. I lost the 30 pounds I'd gained since freshman year. I got a boyfriend. I got a job in my field. I got engaged and married.
What I didn’t think about while spending nearly a decade chronically unhappy was that the day I could stop waiting was today. That it could’ve been any of those days.
When I quit working out to lose weight and started working out to feel good, I was happier. When I stopped thinking about when Zach would propose to me and started thinking about what I liked about him, I was happier. When I no longer felt bad about not working in my field and focused on how I could afford to grab dinner and drinks with my friends on the weekends (and still get all the bills paid), I was happier.
Do I still have lofty goals for my future? Of course. Having goals is important because without them, you have no reason to try to better yourself. That's what my mom tried to tell me all those years ago.
But that doesn't mean you can't appreciate the little blessings of every day. Don't let thoughts of the future stop you from living in the present, because if you do, you just might look back on your past wishing you'd enjoyed it more.