The Veg Voyage (so far) has mostly chronicled my food journey – what I eat and why I eat it – but what about life’s other entanglements? Lately, I’ve been thinking how so much of what you hear about being older while you are growing up is true and how your perceptions over the years change.
For example, when I was younger, I heard people talk about how they just wanted to be happy and, in my little girl mind, I was like, dude*, it’s not that hard. Just turn on your favorite show, order a pizza, and voilà!, happiness! ….Like, didn’t you know? happiness is basically the default. You don’t need to go around wanting it.
Except when you’re older, you kind of do. There is so MUCH more to it than an episode of Boy Meets World and a slice of cheese pizza with olives on it. Happiness is not the default setting. And even the things that should/do make you happy, may come with tiny punches of unpleasant thoughts…
I should be exercising instead of just watching TV.
Pizza! Calorie BOMB! Should’ve got the salad…
Being older means you have to WORK for your happiness. In my life, the key ingredient to happy is to be grateful. The trouble is – for me, at least – being grateful comes with a HUGEassHELPING of worry. I’m SO grateful for my health, my family, my SO, my job, my friends, my apartment. I’m even grateful for my struggles because, comparatively, they are nothing.
However, for everything I am grateful for, comes worry. Worry that it will all be taken away. Worry that it isn’t even. …Worries that I didn’t have as a little one. Being older, you realize how lucky you are. And being grateful leads to happiness but it also leads to worrying………. Worrying about the bills and health and organic vs. local and jobs and am I fulfilled in life? and love and kids and parents and friends and not drinking too much and eating enough vegetables and did I pay my car registration?!!!!!!!
As mentioned, I’ve learned that happiness takes work when you grow up. And, even though this still shocks me on a daily basis, I guess being happy actually is a goal and not the default.
I’ve learned other things too – like, when I was in my earlier college years and I thought (stressed, analyzed, obsessed!) that all the parts of myself had to fit perfectly with the other parts of me. I thought that I was either high strung or laid back and was confused at the notion of being both. Which I believe I actually am. Both. High stung and laid back.
It was hard for me to understand that your personality – what you depict it as or what others do – doesn’t have to be perfectly packaged. It can be messy. It is messy. I wanted my identity to be a linear thing. No parts were supposed to be jagged, raw, or rub another aspect of my personality in a way that destabilized something else I believed to be true. For example, in college, I wanted to be a INDEPENDENT WOMAN (!) but I also wanted a boyfriend and I seemed to fall over and over again, harder and harder, for guy after guy. How could these two traits exist simultaneously in the same person!? It really confused me.
But now, I would say it doesn’t matter so much. (Mostly because I have a boyfriend and don’t have to think about that anymore;) Of course, I still have random ….loopholes in my personality – like why am I so neurotic in my relationship but pretty chill in my friendships? Or why do I love socializing and taking control of making plans but get completely worn out and stressed when doing so? But basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is because… I. Just. Do.
It is who I am and who am I to question it?
Every year, the less important stuff melts away. Just like they tell you when you’re younger, the petty stuff matters less the older you get.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have things to improve on. Like said neurotic-relationship-Ashley and the constant battle of trying not getting so worked up about things. I have a friend who just doesn’t engage if she feels like it is a drama llama situation. That simple. She just doesn’t text back or feed into it. As long as she knows she hasn’t done anything wrong or hurtful, she doesn’t let it get to her. I admire this. I can definitely strive to be more like this.
And that’s the whole point of the life voyage, right? Trying to find and maintain the balance between being happy, letting things go, and trying to be your best self. (All the while, not being too hard on yourself but not letting yourself off the hook, either. …You got all of that?)
Until next time…
*And, yes, I actually would have used the word ‘dude’ because I was born/raised in California.