Somebody put this on Twitter recently and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Because, now you come to mention it, yes I do remember, but I hardly ever take the time to acknowledge it. And isn’t that a shame.
Human beings are wired to be accidentally ungrateful. Or perhaps it would be fairer to say that we’re wired to be ambitious. Always striving for the next thing rather than basking in the glory of having achieved our goals. But why don’t we realise that we can do both?
There was a time when all I wanted was to see Leon everyday. We lived in different cities for a couple of years whilst he studied and I worked. I thought that if we could just live together and we could hang out every night, I’d be the happiest girl alive.
And now? Well, now I do get to see him everyday. And, yes I am incredibly happy. But I’d be even happier if I could see him everyday AND he could remember to take the rubbish out on bin day. Or if I could see him everyday AND he could pop his boxer shorts into the laundry basket instead of next to the laundry basket. THEN I would be the picture of contentment, I promise. As if any of that bullshit even matters.
We do it with our careers too. Not long ago, all I wanted was to write in my own time and be paid for it. I could only imagine what it would do for my confidence and sense of self-worth, if only I could make it happen.
And now it does happen. Not all the time, obviously, because that’s not how the freelance roller coaster works. But it does occur a fair amount. I even have the guts to ask for appropriate fees now, too – something else I fantasised about – because with every commission I know more about what I’m doing.
And I’m really happy about it, but I also spend a lot of the time that I could dedicate to being pleased to worrying. About messing up a job, or not finding the next one, or how I’ll manage to fit it all in. Your mind sees the opportunity to step back and feel content and fills the time with concern instead, the silly sausage.
There have been so many things I’ve begged the universe to make happen. For people to travel home in one piece, for babies to come into the world safely, for celebrations to go off without being spoilt by the memory of me tumbling into them down a flight of stairs or vomiting all over myself. And for the most part, the universe has delivered, which is damn nice of it – but I’m not sure I’ve really given it the credit it’s due.
One of my biggest fears about having a baby (and I have a lot should you wish to hear them) is that I’ll blink and miss it. That I’ll be so focused on surviving that I won’t stop to look at this little person we’ve made and to feel grateful. That I’ll get the balance wrong and dedicate too much time to the wrong things and regret it forever.
These worries themselves are a perfect example of a terrible use of time, even though I know it’s all part of the parenting deal. Because I wanted this, so I need to make time to remember how lucky we are that it’s coming about.
Twitter can be a barren wasteland of despair sometimes (and particularly during 2017, it seems) but sometimes it brings you a point of view that changes the way you think, and for that reason I’ll never leave.
This simple question has stuck with me and I’m determined to keep it in mind. Because I’m the first to wallow when things don’t pan out as I’d hoped – and I never question whether that’s a good use of time. So it’s OK to take a moment to notice when the precise outcome you wanted has come about too.
It’s not gloating, it’s gratitude, and there’s plenty of space for more of that in the world.