I read a quote the other day that sort of made life stop in its tracks. As I was scrolling through Instagram after waking up that morning (as would be any young millennial's morning routine), I came across these words etched in decedent cursive letters with an aesthetically pleasing warm filter dramatizing the photo. It read:
"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved then it will be."
The first thing I could think after reading it was, "guilty." Because if there's anything I've been doing over the past couple months it would be romanticizing the past and incessantly worrying about the future.
I know how cheesy quotes about "living in the present" can be, and don't get me wrong, those quotes annoy me just as much as anyone else. We've all heard people say, "be in the moment," or "enjoy each day." It seems so simple. I would always think, "Of course I'm living in the present. What other option is there?" But these words brought a whole different perspective to it. They made me realize that I was living for every moment except the current one. And that needed to change.
I'm a college student who has had an abnormally difficult time adjusting to the move. Sure, it is difficult for just about anyone when they move out of the state, but I had a few months where I swore I wasn't going to make it. I just needed to be home. Home was the only place where life made sense, the only place where I knew who I was. But I soon realized this extreme homesickness and resistance to change was vastly a product of my own mind. I would look at pictures of my life from one year ago, or even three months ago right before I made the move and think about how purely perfect my life was. How amazing my friends were, how much fun I had, how tan my skin was, how big I smiled, how little my worries were, how easy I had it.
Sure, my life at home was great, but what my mind fails to remember is that it was still far from perfect. I loved my best friends, but there was always some sort of ridiculous drama going on. I liked my high school and my home city, but I was so over seeing the same people in the same hallways every single day. The funny thing is, all I really wanted to do towards the end of high school was go to college, And now that I'm in college, all I really wish I could do is go back home. So what did I truly want? I don't even think I know now.
The truth is, we are always going to long for a time that is far gone from us. We might miss our old friends, or how skinny we used to be when we were 15, or how much easier our classes were senior year of high school. But let me tell you right now, these thoughts are the thief of joy. Someday you are going to look back on your life at this moment, exactly where you are right now, and you are going to long for it. So live it up. Don't get your mind caught in things you can never change or relive, because amazing things are happening right before your eyes, and you want to be fully there for them.
Living purely in the past is what causes depression, and living in anticipation of the future causes anxiety. Our mind is not meant to hold these burdens, nor does it want to. We have to realize that each phase of life is a gift, and I don't want to wish my college years away just because I miss how life used to be in high school. Neither should you. Life isn't very long, so be all there for it. You will thank yourself one day.