I used to have all the time in the world. Today, I can hardly believe that’s it’s 4 pm, Thursday, or June already! Vanished are the days of experiencing boredom – I can’t possibly fit everything I want into a day. Time passes swiftly so I’ve had to become thoughtful about how I spend the time I do have, carefully considering the benefit of each thing I commit to.
My mindset is drastically different than it was only a few years ago. I’ve managed to identify my values so I know what I must follow through on and where I am better off to decline. My focus has shifted from social life to creative development and quality time with family – these are the things I love most in life! I now realize how short time really is and how important it is to spend each moment intentionally. Every tick matters, every action has some impact.
I will always be changing and therefore learning who I am. I used to use fashion as a tool in that search. I have always been really into it and I’d spend hours trying on looks. I wanted to be noticed and didn’t feel like I could achieve that without fashions’ help. I still really love fashion but now feel best in comfortable, good-quality, functional clothes that fit my body. Instead of looking to impress or get attention I’ve learned to be grateful for this body that can still do so much! Here are some pictures of young me trying to stand out through fashion:
Finally freed from the concern of what other’s will think I am going after the things in my heart. I read in Stoic philosophy that if we are trying to impress others we are living by their standards so could never achieve happiness. I question the things we do to avoid being left behind. This has led me to stop doing a lot of those things. They were just wearing me down with no solid benefit, anyway.
Things made to make life easier or more efficient were the very things that were robbing me of time. So, one by one I stopped doing things like driving to work, watching TV, and browsing on social media.
TV and social media are much the same. We pick them up out of boredom then get sucked in and lose a lot of time. They can both be extremely addictive and the time-cost is just too high. Social media is valuable to me only when used sparingly.
Taking the bus to work, I have no stress with traffic and I don’t pay for parking. Instead I read for an extra 1 hour a day, move my body to and from my stop, and reduce my negative impact on Earth. The benefits are huge and line-up nicely with my values.
Now that some of the noise is gone I am doing more of the things that push me ahead. I have spent too much time wishing things were different, wanting to skip a bunch of steps. That never worked out, only postponing my taking essential steps. True joy really does come in doing the work – in knowing I’m doing everything to get to point B. I complained about not having time but I was letting “easy” things eat up the time I did have. Knowing there is no reward in doing what is easy, I feel like I am now in control, like I am finally in the driver’s seat.
I won’t forget the wild experiences I’ve had but am happy keeping them in the realm of memories. I’m no longer interested in stretching to re-create them. How difficult to move forward when caught up in the good ol’ days! Trying to maintain that I still rock every good concert that comes through town just doesn’t fit me anymore.
Today I feel more joy than ever due to a switch of focus to my own standards of health and fulfillment. I have learned to stop doing things for the reason that (I think) they are expected of me. As much as I care deeply about people it is up to me to make this life what I want. I’m setting limits and teaching the people I love to understand the reasons I do what I do. If it makes sense and hurts no one, I will still have their support.
These changes improve the quality of my life and they could only have come about because of the experiences I’ve had. I am enjoying growing older because my life feels full and I’m getting closer to becoming a complete person.
Aging can be painful as is any kind of growth but I am rolling with it as best I can. I won’t let it stop my journey toward my dream life. A hurdle, certainly, but I will work to clear those until the end of days.
Suicidal Tendencies does a great job of expressing my feeling toward aging in this video: