The grass isn’t always greener on the other side


Mariel Elopre

By Ellen Barczak, Columnist

I’ve spent my entire life wishing I was older; I always can’t wait to arrive at the next chapter of my life. I’ve particularly spent quite a bit of time wishing I was already in college, already beginning my “real” life.

I have arrived. Or have I?

The other day, I saw a little girl with her dad on campus. She had blonde hair with straight bangs, glasses and what appeared to be an animated personality — she reminded me of myself.

I instantly began to think about what it felt like to be eight years old, footloose and fancy-free. Those were the good old days, I thought to myself. That was the real prime of life, when someone took care of me and my biggest problem was considering who in my class I’d invite to my birthday party.

When I was eight, however, I didn’t like being eight. I wanted to be a grown-up, to make my own decisions, to be responsible for myself. Those will be the best days, I thought to myself.

It’s a classic case of the grass being greener on the other side. It seems a perpetual aspect of the human condition to want what we can’t have, to never feel satisfied and to fail to live in the moment.

Now, I look back on 2006 fondly and, to some extent, wish I could go back. Just for a few hours, just to see what I missed.

Some things, I believe, appreciate in value in hindsight. That seems a terribly unfortunate notion, though — to only appreciate the best things when they’ve already ended.

What can be done? How do you truly, fully, honestly live in the moment? How do you know you’re in the good old days before they’re over?

According to Time Magazine, in 2017, only 33 percent of Americans said they were happy. Whether these dissatisfied individuals live in the moment or not, I do not know. However, I think there are a few simple steps we all can take to reap fuller benefits from every moment that passes and to maximize our happiness.

First: Count your blessings. Sit down and think of all the good things in your life. They can be as big as a family that loves you, or as little as opening up a new tube of your favorite ChapStick that day. We all have things for which to be thankful, and to only recognize them after they’re gone would be a shame.

Second: Don’t compare yourself to others. It is so easy to find yourself in the “rat race,” to see how far you’ve gone compared to your peers. Life is long and there is time for everything; learn to find happiness in what you have achieved instead of diminishing your successes by comparing them to another’s.

Third: Remember that whatever is happening in your life right now, good or bad, it will end. Appreciate the good and learn from the bad. Life is dynamic; make an effort to gain perspective, to understand that no period of your life is perpetual.

I would love to be eight again. But someday, I would love to be 19 again — don’t let those moments slip away; you will inevitably want a few of them back.

Ellen is a freshman in LAS. 

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