So sometime at the end of high school and the beginning of college, I developed a stunning life mantra. I’ve told a number of people and many of those have told me that it’s a really depressing mantra. I find that it actually cheers me up. Perhaps this says more about me than I’d like it to. But here’s the mantra:
Life always sucks.
Now, it’s the context that makes it cheerier (although I have been assured that no context really makes it cheerier). I came to this conclusion after a pretty terrible year of high school, where it was my sole desire to graduate. Once I graduated, everything would be better. I would be able to go to college, I’d have more friends that understood me better, make my own choices, take classes that actually challenged me, be an adult.
All of these things were true, and all of these things were good. They’ve happened, and I’ve been happy with them. But on the other hand, these things also came with trials.
It turns out that when you take classes that challenge you, it’s really hard. And sometimes you don’t get A’s. Sometimes you study for 12 hours, spend 4 more in the testing center and still get a C+. And when you start dating somebody seriously in the middle of a two semester OChem series, it makes studying chemistry a lot less appealing. Which translates into a less appealing grade. And being an adult means living off of your own income. Which is a small student income. It means living in dingy 50 year old houses that haven’t been cared for and are drafty in the winter. It means making the choice between being cold and not being able to afford the heating bill.
The thing is that no matter what your life circumstances, there will always be something going wrong. There’s always going to be a part of life that sucks. When I graduate from college, life isn’t going to be magically easier just because I’ll be relieved of the stresses of a student. I’ll have the stress of finding a job while Kyle finishes, at some point I’ll have the stress of being a mom. Hard times don’t pass just because you’ve passed a milestone, you just have different kinds of hard times.
Lest you think this is going to be all depressing, it’s the flipside that really counts. Since coming to college, I’ve made excellent friends, I’ve been challenged and stretched in ways I’d never experienced before, I’ve learned to love better, I’ve fallen in love with the sweetest man alive and married him. Life always sucks, and it’s always going to, but it’s also always beautiful. I have a tendency to reach for those milestones (once I graduate college all will be well!), but the truth is that there will still be challenges, and I will only be disappointed if I think that it won’t be hard afterwards. The key is to look for the beautiful things every day. To look for what is oh-so right in your life.
Sometimes the bad outweighs the good, and sometimes the good outweighs the bad. But I need to remember the good, and to focus on it instead of on the bad. It makes life cheerier.