Did you know that today is the most important day of your life? That’s right. Today.
No, you didn’t forget to put an important appointment on your calendar. I say today because no matter how much wishing, regretting, or pleading we do, we will never be able to get yesterday back. I say today because none of us are promised a tomorrow. So today is our one opportunity to fling ourselves wholeheartedly into life, our one chance to leave our legacy, our one great moment.
Can you imagine what life would be like if that was your mindset every morning when you get out of bed?
I have spent most of my life waiting for the next step or season… only to get there and realize that what I had before was in and of itself amazing. I remember spending hours and hours playing “house” when I was little because nothing in the world sounded better to me than being an adult. I spent high school counting down the days until I could go away to college and not have a curfew or my parents monitoring my every move. I spent college in a relationship I didn’t allow myself to fully enjoy because I didn’t have a ring on my finger. I spent grad school talking about how much better everything would be when I got a job.
About a year and a half ago, I started my first full time job in Florida in the functional area I went into student affairs to work in. Time to be perfectly content now, right? Not quite. My childhood games conveniently left out 60+ hour work weeks. Freedom lost its magical appeal when bills, health insurance, and retirement plans got thrown into the mix and I planted myself 800 miles away from my family and closest friends. As usual, my initial reaction was, “What’s next?” I started trying to figure out what needed to happen, where I needed to go, what I needed to do next.
But this time my answer wasn’t a move or mile marker life event. It wasn’t a completion to the sentence, “I’ll be happy when …” It was a realization that I was right where I needed to be. It was a conscious decision to quit being so busy looking ahead to life’s shining moments that I wasn’t fully present for the ones right in front of me.
Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not. Some days I’m not even remotely good at it. I am getting better, though, and have learned a lot along the way. Mainly:
- Let go of the picture you have in your head of how your life is supposed to be. I’m not sure how old I was when I was first fed the idea that I need a husband and kids to be a worthwhile and successful woman, but I know I had internalized it by the time I was in high school. Letting go of that expectation has been so liberating for me. I have found success and fulfillment in making a difference in the lives of college students and helping them become the best versions of themselves. I now view a family as something I want if and when it is meant to be, not as something that defines my worth. Maybe for you, it’s money or a house or a career path. Whatever it is, don’t get so caught up in how you thought things were supposed to be that you’re not enjoying how they are because…
- I have become firmly rooted in the conviction that there are no accidents and that we are always exactly where we are supposed to be at that moment in time. Don’t give up on your goals or dreams – there is a huge difference between being content in your circumstances and being content with your circumstances. Always go for the former and never the latter. Remember that, wherever you are, you have a purpose that you are fulfilling.
- Excuse the Justin Bieber song lyrics, but “The grass ain’t always greener on the other side, it’s green where you water it.” Just like I didn’t know about taxes when I was playing “house” when I was younger, you don’t always see the full picture of another situation. Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to someone who you think has a better job, marriage, social life, etc. Sometimes the hardships others are facing are more than you could ever imagine. Instead, take care of yourself, cultivate your relationships, and make the most out of what you have been given. Embrace the life that is uniquely yours.
- You’ll find what you’re looking for in people and situations. I believe that if you are looking for the bad in a person, you will find it. If you go somewhere and don’t think you’re going to have a good time, you won’t. Negativity is the easy way out, though. We are living in an unaccepting society that has taught us to look for scandals, wrinkles, and cellulite. If you need confirmation of this, just go to the grocery store and check out the magazine aisle. Challenge yourself to exercise some positivity and set out to look for the best in people, events, and, most importantly, yourself.
As Lisa Endersby (www.twitter.com/lmendersby) once tweeted, “Resolve to never just ‘get through’ another day.” Don’t view today as some torture that you need to endure or as a stop on the way to better things. View today as the amazing blessing that it is. View today as your once in a lifetime opportunity to change your little corner of the world with what you have, right where you are.
What will you do today?