Idealizing

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A couple of days ago, I did something very scary, very extreme, something I’ve never done before. I dreaded this day since I knew that it had to happen. It is going to hurt. They’re basically sucking the life out of me. It will be so painful and traumatizing, I don’t know if I’ll ever recover. This is a torture method, I’m sure of it. Why do people act so normal about this act of violence?

Well, a couple of days ago, I finally did it: I got my blood drawn.

If you’re rolling your eyes or laughing at me, then you are reacting correctly. I am ridiculously over-dramatic and over-idealize every situation in my head. As I sobbed quietly to myself as the kind nurse inserted a needle into my arm, and then closed my eyes as Lorde played from the speaker of my phone (yes, I played Lorde out loud during my appointment, yes, her new album is amazing and life-changing and I would highly recommend), I realized that A.) I can’t really feel anything and B.) This experience isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Guess I missed the target on that one.

This happens more often than not in my life, and recently, I’ve realized most events in my life turn out to be way different than I think they will be.

Take moving to Durham, for an example. After the school year ended, I ended a relationship with a guy I dated all through my sophomore year of college. It was hard, and being in the place where I fell in love with him was not helping the grieving process. So, I decided to move to a new place, somewhere I had never lived before. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the intentions of feeling like Liz in Eat Pray Love, where she moves to a new, exciting place, and she finds herself. I thought moving to Durham would be exhilarating and fun, that I would find the perfect, most inspiring job the first week here, and meet amazing people, and my life would be so magical and fulfilling, full of new experiences and faces.

Well, I’m not saying that can’t still happen, I’ve only been here for two weeks. But, so far, I’ve spent most of my days on the couch, eating pancakes and Cocoa Puffs, binge watching One Tree Hill and The Office, unemployed, having met no new people, made no new friends, and having very little employers reply to my enthusiastic emails. Not exactly the magical summer I dreamt up in my head.

I’ve always been like this, though. Sometimes I sit on my bed and daydream about scenarios that will most likely never happen. I can’t help but feel disappointed when reality doesn’t meet the standards of my idealized mind.

One thing I’ve noticed I do is, while living in the present, I can’t help but dream and idealize about the future. I’m never quite content where I am. In elementary school, I would dream about being in high school. What an amazing place (lol at that). Having my license, going to football games, having a social life, pretty much living the dream. In high school, all I could think about was college, and how amazing and magical and exciting college would be, and I never enjoyed high school. When I got to college, it was (shockingly) not everything I had dreamed it would be. So I started dreaming about after college, about my career, and traveling, and having a boyfriend. When I started dating someone, I started looking forward to getting married, that’s when it would get really great all the time, right? This is a scary place to be in, and I’m only now realizing it.

Life isn’t meant to be lived passively, only looking for the future. Dreaming is a great thing, having goals for the future is a great thing, but not living in the present, missing opportunities and memories of the now because you are too busy thinking about how it could be better, that is not great. And I do that all the time.

I’m just gonna say it, life is a let down sometimes. Things don’t work out the way you want them to, places aren’t as great as they once seemed, people aren’t who you thought they were. Life isn’t a dream-come-true. But that’s no reason not to enjoy it.

Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve recently moved to a new city, in the hopes of wild dreams and idealized scenarios coming true (AKA all of my friends with internships), but you’ve realized, hey, this is actually kind of hard, and my dream internship isn’t what I expected, or being abroad isn’t everything I’ve dreamed it would be, or making friends is harder than I thought in a new place, or the really cute guy I started dating actually isn’t that great and having a boyfriend isn’t making me feel the way I thought it would; whatever it is, don’t brush those feelings under a rug. Accept them. Take those feelings and roll with it. Yeah, Durham isn’t what I expected it would be, but I’m still trying to make the most of it. I’m living in the now, and looking for chances and opportunities to take now, and not to dream about for the future.

If where you are now isn’t satisfying the way you imagined it would be, then change your thoughts. Find new positives about where you’re living or where you’re working. Or don’t. Maybe where you are or who you’re with isn’t right for you, and that’s okay. It’s okay to think you want something, and then find out it’s not for you.

All I’m saying, and I’m mostly saying this to myself, is to stop letting your idealized visions rob the way you live your life now. Find the beauty in what you have and where you are today, not where you could be a couple years from now. Live in the present. And don’t let memories pass you by because you’re making fake memories in your idealized future.

 

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