essay

What Life Is

We all have our idea of what life should look like. We’re never quite sure where this ideal comes from, but maybe a combination of a lot of things: our childhood, our values, television, social media, the lives of others, etc.

Life should be happy. We should be able to live in a clean, single-family house that is affordable. We should have enough money for food to eat. We should have a well-paying, prestigious career. We should be healthy. We should have good kids who potty-train easily.

We rarely challenge that idea of what life should look like. Even when life turns out to be so much different, filled with chaos, deep questions, discontent, failed dreams, and interrupted plans.

But life doesn’t really actually care what it should look like. Life just is what it is.

There are hard lessons we have to learn:

  • We can’t have it all and instead we constantly face trade-offs.
  • Hard work does not always pay off and sometimes we just fail.
  • There is no perfect job or career.
  • There is no perfect home or neighborhood.
  • Our kids will continually be challenging and have difficult problems throughout their lives.
  • Our health will eventually fail us.

And so much more.

We have to give up our ideal of what life should look like it to better understand what it actually is.

Life is not a happily-ever-after. Life is not continual happiness. Life is learning and growing through making mistakes. Life is continually trying. Life is relearning the same thing over and over again. Life is being able to find joy, but only with imperfect circumstances.

I can’t do it all. No one can. We only have a certain amount of energy. I have occasional days that are really productive and lovely, but I’m not going sustain that long term. There are hard moments, unexpected problems, and it keeps coming and coming.

I have actually been really happy lately, but my happiness has increased as I’ve better accepted where I’m at in life, with all its flaws. I don’t really want to homeschool my children, but I can find joy in it anyway. I struggled with being a stay-at-home mom, but I can love it anyway.

And I know that I can’t do everything I want to. I started a transcription course and I don’t know if I will ever finish it. I would like to start a tiny business, but right now there isn’t time.

Sometimes I have to take a step back, slow down, prioritize taking care of myself, and then move forward again the best I can. I’m not going to get it all done.

And some days I have to strongly resist the temptation to play numb and clock out of life. Because I can’t get away from who I am and what life is, no matter how many YouTube videos I watch.

I have been trying to be more mindful about the decisions I make–I would rather read a book than watch a movie. I would rather spend time with my husband than check off things on my to-do list. I would rather connect with my kids than connect with my email.

And I really just want to accept where I am right now. I am still striving to achieve certain goals to build a different future (we are saving up to buy a house, I am going to school in economics, and my husband will seek out promotions in his work when they come available). But my life right now is where it is. I’m there today, and that’s what matters.

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