With four months and three days left in my 20s (I’m not counting, I just can’t stop thinking about it, help), I think I have finally become the one thing I always wanted to become. Something I was so set on becoming when I graduated college. Something I wasn’t right away, but thought I would be before turning 25, and then before turning 30. Something I eventually thought maybe I would never become. Something I began to think maybe no one becomes.
What is that something, you ask?
I am happy.
Finally, after years of frustration, I am pretty fucking content with my life. While a lot of things still piss me off (I am human), every day I partake in at least one or two or three things I enjoy, and that is great. Whether it’s tasks at work or just watching the fucking television, my life is more full of things I enjoy than things that make me want to swan dive out the window, grow wings, and fly to a tropical island where I can do nothing but tan while drinking margaritas—alone. (This is still a dream.)
I think my life was always full of things I enjoyed. It always involved friends and family. It was constantly full of socializing… with people and objects (it has been confirmed that I can and will talk to a wall if necessary; this is why my occupation eventually became talking to strangers on the internet, what up fam). I spent a lot of time working out, listening to music, eating good food, partying (when I liked to party), and lounging (when I began to prefer lounging over partying). But even though I was always doing things I loved with people I loved, I never let myself be happy.
Instead of focusing on the things I had and loved, I always focused on what I didn’t have. The list of things I wanted was long enough to obsess over 24/7. I wanted a different, better job. I wanted more close friends. I wanted guys I couldn’t have. I wanted more weekend plans. I wanted small thighs, abs, and self-control when it came to food. I wanted a better apartment, more money, and a better title. I wanted more followers, more retweets, and more likes. I wanted to make the 30 Under 30 list before turning, well, 30. I told myself I couldn’t be happy until I got all of these things.
Even when I got something I wanted, I couldn’t be happy about it because I became obsessed with getting something else. It was always about the next big thing for me. And this was okay. I was ambitious, and ambitious people are never satisfied. This meant I would probably never be happy with my life, and I convinced myself to be okay with this. I though this was how life is supposed to be.
Because of this, I spent my 20s chasing things I thought were better than what I currently had. Little did I know, I already had so much.
Over the years, I worked great jobs, kept amazing friends, had a fun and ridiculous social life with stories to last a lifetime, loved a boyfriend-turned-fiancè who was also my best friend, created a “side hustle” that provided me with a decent amount of extra money each month, had close family, joined a fitness community, and grew fucking fabulous closet (and a lot of debt because of it, but we’re leaving negativity behind in 2018 so we can ignore that). I loved all of these things in my life, but I couldn’t stop obsessing over what I didn’t have to realize I had so damn much already.
If I could do my 20s again, I would have stopped complaining so much about what I didn’t have. Instead, I would have channeled that energy into being grateful about what I did have—and into actually doing something about the things that bothered me in my life.
I would have stopped comparing what other people had to what I had. I would have stopped competing with others in my head, and instead I would have competed with myself. I would have understood that everyone’s lives and situations are different—and I would have focused on what I could do in my situation instead of being jealous of someone else’s.
I would have lived in the moment. Instead of complaining about wanting something to be different, I would have mapped out a plan to make things different. But I wouldn’t act on impulse. I would think long and hard about what I was happy with in that moment, and then I would spend time finding a long term fix for whatever the issue was. Basically, I spent my 20s making short term fixes because I let small issues and negativity consume my life and feared that if I didn’t make changes now, I would be miserable forever.
I remember being 25 and calling my mom every day crying about how much I hated work. Was work that bad? No. Did I have a good gig? Yes. Did I jump ship too quickly just so I could move on ASAP instead of really searching for exactly what I wanted as a next step? Absolutely. I was a victim of my own thoughts.
The biggest thing I didn’t realize was that happiness does not mean settling. Happiness does not mean being satisfied with every single aspect of your life. Happiness does not mean you have no ambition. I can be happy while still having dreams and goals I haven’t achieved yet. I can be happy without achieving a certain number of pageviews and post likes on my website. I can be happy while still getting fucking ANGRY when I forget my headphones at work and have to listen to people breathe. I can be happy. I am happy. You can be too.
So stop obsessing over what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do have. Free yourself from complaining and be grateful for your life. Let positivity guide you to what you REALLY want instead of letting negativity guide you anywhere other than where you are now. You’ll be surprised at how much can change while nothing changes at all. It will only make the changes you really want that much better.