Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So ... this is really what it's like

Why doesn't anyone tell us, growing up, what being a grown-up is actually like?

Why not just tell us, "Kids, this is really how it's going to be." Maybe then we could prepare for the harsh realities of this world, instead of believing we can all grow up to be whatever and whoever we want, that all our dreams can come true.

I have never been a pessimist. But the older I get, especially this year of my life, the more pragmatic I seem to become.

Our dreams are just not as easily reached as all the teachers and coaches and others led me to believe. I'm not alone in feeling this way, am I?

I'm not suggesting that adults should stop encouraging kids to figure out what they want in life and strive for it; I'm simply saying they might figure out how to be a bit more helpful - and a bit more realistic - about it all.

Because while I've definitely got good - great? - things in my life now, it's not all sunshine and roses like I always thought it could be, if I just worked hard enough, got good enough grades, tried hard enough, pleased enough people. It just doesn't work that way, I'm realizing now. Because people are human. We make mistakes. We change our minds. We don't always have the answers (do we ever have the answers?).

Two of my friends were laid off last week. Another friend's husband was laid off more than a month ago. These people did nothing wrong. They deserved not an ounce the hand they were dealt. Rather, they worked hard, tried hard, showed up on time, smiled for the most part, did what they were supposed to do. Were these their dream jobs? Probably not. But they were their jobs. And it's not right for anyone to show up one day and have the rug pulled out from under them. Bad economy or not.

One of those friends has a blog. The other day, he said, this:

"Should you ever find yourself adrift in a sea of joblessness, it's important to stick with a tried and true routine to go about your daily affairs. You know, so you don't end up sitting around in your underwear all day and finishing a bag (or two!) of Doritos ...

"Anyway, you gotta get out of bed. Seriously. And you have to put pants on and pretend to be a grown-up."

That's just it. Pretend to be a grown-up. Most days, I feel like I'm just pretending to be a grown-up. Do I really know any more than I did as a kid? Maybe. Probably.

But dealing with the things grown-ups deal with - layoffs, pay cuts, mortgages, the commute, health insurance, having babies, making a marriage work, the list goes on - God. Who really wants to do all of that?

I don't really want to deal with those things. I just at my core want to be happy. I suppose the key is figuring out how to deal with those things and be happy at the same time.

It must be possible.



dane said...

I really doubt it.

bryan said...

It's possible. But it's not easy. I'll let you know when I get there.

That post you linked started as a "here's how you cope with being canned" thing and turned out as a pep talk to myself. I think about it every morning when the alarm goes off.

"Get up. Get dressed. Get on with it, already."

And then I come up for air after three hours on the computer and say, "hey, it worked!"

Jenny said...

First of all, great post!

Yes, it's possible. Of course it's possible.

I think life is like a tilt-a-whirl. I'm sure I made you ride with me hundreds of times over the years, right? The more you try to force that freaking helmet shaped car to spin (can you hear me screaming? "Lean left! No, lean right! Now!), the less fun the ride is. The car doesn't spin any more than it would have anyway and all the fun was sucked out of the ride. Life is a lot more fun if you'll just sit back, enjoy the bumps and learn to let the car spin on it's own!

Jessica H. said...

I think it is possible. If you don't think true happiness is possible, is life worth living?

I think we NEVER know everything. Each new stage brings lessons and we learn a little more each day what truly makes us happy. Life is all about discovery. When we are tested that is when we learn if we have faith in ourselves, others, a higher power.... etc.

REALLy good post,Veronica. :)

Anonymous said...

It is tough. I am having very real issues with "happy" these days. My daughter reminds me every day, that despite the crap we have been dealt recently, we need to smile and enjoy the little things. Laugh, love and breathe. She claims that happiness is a choice. It just doesn't happen to you.

I love Jenny's tilt-a-whirl description!

For the record, I think I mistyped every single word in this comment. Ugh.

jeannine said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. It is how a person responds to the good, the bad, and the ugly that ultimately determines our happiness. I to have become less of an optimist the older I have gotten, but I don't feel resentful or sad about that because in the long run I am now more of a realist and get disappointed a lot less. Actually I rarely have been disappointed optimist or not, but I guess the main point is the only thing I can control is me. I am in charge of my actions, my feelings, my responses, everything else I just have to deal with as it comes. Possibly a person can find some relief in this truth knowing that they don't have to figure everything out because they can't control everything or everyone.

Fen just the other day was telling me how much she is not looking forward to growing up, she is already on to all of this.

Jonathan said...

Great post Veronica, keep it up! Reading your post really makes me think...having been laid off at the beginning of January, I can say that 2009 has been challenging so far; however, I know this is a challenging time for a lot of people and a lot of people are being challenged more than I am.

If I had to look back, I could say that 5th, 6th, 8th, and 9th grades were really great for me as was the first half of 2001 (a very good semester of college) and the summer of 2002, but I definitely haven't experienced what you referenced in your blog in my "adult" life (roughly from 2003 to the present) yet.

In the meantime, I can watch the season 3 finale of the TV show "The Office" (presently being repeated on TBS) and remember when first I figured out where the fictional Dunder Mifflin building in New York City was seeing that it was across from the Hilton on 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas). It's the little things like this that help me get through the phone screens, interviews, etc. :)

Grant said...

Yes, I'd vote that it's possible. I would suggest that it usually it is found within the context of relationships. And, sadly, it isn't permanent. But it is possible.

And the good news is that the downturns aren't permanent either. At least they don't have to be. The hardest part is reforming expectations. We get so set on one path in our mind, and then... poof... it's gone. Sometimes it takes fundamental change. Sometimes it's a lot easier. Hell, sometimes it just takes a bit of exercise (as crazy as that sounds).

But at the end of the day, I vote that it is possible... and for that bit of hope, I can smile.