There is a huge difference between being happy with life and being content with life. Being happy with life seems, to me at least, to be a dynamic state of being that can change from day to day. There have been many times where I haven’t been happy with life. I’m sure any other human being could say the same. Being content with life is more concrete, less prone to change from one day to the next.
I’ll be very honest for a moment. Over the winter, up until about six weeks ago, The Mister and I were navigating the tricky waters of a rough patch in our relationship. Neither of us was very nice or compassionate towards the other, and each of us was constantly in a defensive mode. I’m not going to go into detail, because those details are private and solely between him and I. But about six weeks ago, the dynamic shifted, and we were both re-learning how to be a team. I began an earnest effort to carefully pick my battles, because in the long run, some of them just aren’t worth the negativity those arguments would bring. But we are to a point where, the other day, I sent him this text:
Every year around the end of the school year, I get a little nostalgic and I begin to wonder ‘what if’. What if I had stuck to my ten-year plan? What if I hadn’t dropped out of college? Where would I be? What would I be doing? Would I be traveling the world like I wanted?
But the other question is: Who would be around me?
I know this: Even though we have had some truly awful times, though there have been times I wanted to just throw in the towel, I can’t regret any choice that led me to you. All the ‘what ifs’ will never be enough to outweigh the ‘what is’. Love you.
He texted back that he couldn’t have said it any better, I replied that I was so glad we agreed…but that one little text led to a massive ‘paradigm shift’, if you will (not just a Final Fantasy reference, it’s an actual scientific thing. Look it up!), that still sticks with me. I feel like I’ve stumbled on something monumental, something I’ve been grasping at for the longest time. Not as sudden as an epiphany, but amazing and wonderful all the same. Anyone can be happy with their lives on any given day, but how do you know that the path you’ve chosen is the right one?
I had a ten-year plan when I graduated high school. I was going to go to college, major in Anthropology, and I was going to be one of those people you see on the History Channel, talking about the ancient cultures of the world. How very far I jumped from that path. Children weren’t in my ten-year plan…I planned to begin a family at around 30, after spending my 20’s globetrotting. I dropped out of college after one semester, from a combination of depression and shame, briefly enlisted in the Army before an injury forced me out before I even graduated boot camp, lived in Florida for a brief moment in time. Then, a little under two months after my 21st birthday, I found myself staring at a stick that told me in no uncertain terms that I was pregnant.
I will be 31 next month, and the life I live is completely different from what I’d planned. It is completely normal to sometimes look back wistfully and think that, if you could go back, there’d be things you’d do differently. Objectively speaking, I’d finish college and fulfill my ten-year plan. But when you think about it, it really is a completely different timeline. You’d meet different people, maybe settle down and raise a family with someone completely different, and those children would be completely different from the ones you might have now.
That variable is something I’d never risk. Even if I made sure to meet The Mister the way I did, any change would mean that the potential would exist for SchoolGirl, KinderGirl, and ToddlerBoy to be three very different kids. I would never want to change who I am engaged to. I would never want to risk not having the three awesome kids I have now. Every storm I have weathered has been worth the rainbows.
It all dawned on me. How do you know that you are not only happy with life for the most part, but truly content with it?
When all your regrets aren’t worth changing all your blessings. When you would not sacrifice what you have for what might have been. When all the ‘what ifs’ would never be worth giving up any part of your ‘what is’.
I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend, and please remember…If you drink or do anything that impairs your cognition, awareness, and reaction time…please stay off the road, not just for your sake, but for everyone else’s too.