Wednesday, September 7, 2016

It's Never Going to be "OK"

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."

Each year at the start of school, I share a shocking revelation to my new class of high school juniors: "It's never going to be OK," I tell them. This discussion begins when I "book talk" a nice little bit of self-help from Dr. Phil's son Jay McGraw called Life Strategies For Teens. One of McGraw's best little tips is the revelation that "Life is managed: it is not cured." The message in that is an authentic bit of wisdom - there is never going to be that moment when all is well and there's nothing to worry about. It just doesn't work that way. As writer and speaker Andy Andrews has so aptly put it: "Everyone is either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis."

I advise my students to stop setting benchmarks and expectations for when they will have it all figured out. As kids, we start doing this about middle school age. When the pressure and drama and disappointment start to get to us, we say, "Everything will be better when I just get to high school." And, of course it's not. Some things are better - others are not. And there are new challenges we never wanted. Soon we tell ourselves, "It will be better once I can drive. When I have some freedom and control, then I'll be happy." But it doesn't work out that way. Eventually, we tell ourselves, "If I can just get out on my own, get to college, get out of the house or out of this town, then it will be better." But it's not better - or at least not for long. It's just different.

It won't be better "once we get a job" or "once we get that promotion" or once "we get our own place" or once we get some more freedom or responsibility or money or space or .... anything. It's never just "gonna be OK," because in reality it has always been OK. Ups will become downs, and downs will become ups, and the best year of your life is always the current one. Because you're living it. And living it is certainly prefereable to not. And if some time in the past or some time in the future is the best time of your life, then you're doing it wrong.

Don't wait for it to be OK. Revel in the OK-ness of now.

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