In high school, our cheer coach had a saying, “Choose joy.” Although I never was a cheerleader for my high school, the saying resonated with me through the years. The thought is so simple, yet we forget it. With the holidays approaching, this blog felt appropriate. Recently it feels that friends, family, and in general acquaintances have forgotten how to “Choose Joy.” This is not a rant of saying your life doesn't suck sometimes, because in all reality life does suck sometimes. Growing up is hard. Not in terms of just adding the typical adult responsibilities, bills, budgets, and kids. As an adult, you learn things about yourself, your peers, and life in general that were “hidden” from you as a child. For example, finding out how expensive bed pillows are, like really $30 dollars is uneccesary. Or finding out your best friend is against everything you stand for on the political spectrum. How you deal with these differences/issues shows how adult one is, in my opinion. These are the things you teach yourself, how to accept and deal with change. Growing up requires you to face yourself, find what you value, and learning to love yourself. In all honesty, that is not an easy task. Choosing joy isn't natural, but I have three helpful reminders on how you can recenter your joy.
1. Not every pot can be on the front burner.
We all have internally competing priorities. Some people will take longer than others to find theirs. Along the journey you will make great friendships, some that will last through your growing stages, and some that won’t. Do not get discouraged when you grow apart from others, everyone’s motivations are different. I promise it isn’t intentional; your priorities have shifted. Do not stress about going down a journey feeling alone for a bit. This is how you will grow. Learn to prioritize your dreams and be mature enough to trust that those towards the bottom of the list aren’t being neglected, just postponed so that more critical and immediate needs can be addressed.
2. Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle.
Our generation has to combat the extra pressure from social media. Social media is a beautiful platform, as it brings our worlds together, showing us places and a glimpse into someone else’s life. However, it is easy to fall into the trap of “Where did I go wrong?” You didn’t. Not everyone is in the same stage in life as you. Some hardships you are facing now, others faced years ago. Each stage of life will come with a new hardship, and the new one won’t be the same as the last. Just because you don’t see the bad, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. We bought a house early; my husband and I are one of the few that benefited from the economic crash. We were “house broke” for almost five years. Now that social media allows us to reflect, “On this day” via Facebook, I can look back and see those hardships however from an outsider perspective we were “living it up”. We weren’t rich money wise (still aren’t) but we were rich with happiness. We “choose joy” during these times. We were at the beginning of our homeowner journey, which is strenuous. The beginning of every journey is always the toughest.
Those images, statuses, adventures, whatever you are comparing yourself to, I promise it took work to get there. This is something I struggle with the most and am constantly reminding myself. I have friends that are doing things that I envy. The fact of the matter is I am at the beginning of an entirely different book, and they are half way through theirs. Obviously, there are outliers to this. We probably follow the same trust fund babies on Instagram, and dream of just one of their days/vacations. Nevertheless, they too have their bad days and own personal demons they are working through. Don’t let social media fool you we are all still human. However, if you do a need a reminder that you are doing alright, just turn on some Jerry Springer.
3. Choose community over competition.
“If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” Working alone will allow your strengths to shine, circumvent the need for collaboration or compromise and allow one to slay goals quickly. But, it’s not waterproof. The end product will be one-dimensional and pale in comparison to the potential of leveraging the power of community. A close friend of mine once told me “A community supports one another, brags about one another, is gracious to each other, and is authentic in all that it does.” As of late on social media, and other (physical) conversation, I have heard complaints of constant competition, or needing to “one-up” another. If you find yourself “competing”, always needing to be better than your friend, you aren’t friends. In fact, it sounds like you are enemies. Relationships are about bettering each other. If you find yourself in a shift that the need for competition is happening, you need to look into yourself. Does the other person feel the same way? Questioning yourself is messy. You will find things that you love, and then there will be things that you detest. Here is where your community comes in. Draw from the vast depths of your talent pools and outsource your weaknesses. Being humble enough to ask for help is not a sign of failure, but rather intelligence. Surround yourself with those who want you to succeed and be a part of your success. The ones that are willing to work through the messy parts, to ensure that your goals aren’t just reached but evolving to get bigger, go farther, and stretching you. Your pool should include people doing big things, with varied focus. Surround yourself with interesting people, who you can learn from. If you’re the smartest, happiest, most successful person in the room… find a new room.
Finding your tribe will be hard; it will be even more difficult if you haven’t found yourself. Learning to love yourself was one of the hardest things I did. Having to accept your flaws and embrace your strengths are scary. Compromise with your reality, and learn to budget your desires. Welcome change, typically that means you are growing.