“My life is over.”
Have those words ever crossed your mind? That moment when something so catastrophic, disastrous, and damage-inducing occurred that you never thought you would recover? That moment when there were no other roads, when you had run out of options?
And yet, here you are.
When we’re stuck in the midst of an emotionally charged event, our lives are consumed by this one particular thing. Whether it’s rejection from a job we really wanted, being turned down by someone, or realizing that a project we invested time and money into was going nowhere, we’ve all had those gut-wrenching experiences in which we fear life will always be worse.
While those moments are painful, here’s the good news: You’ll survive. What’s even better is that as time goes on, those experiences will be less and less significant in the grand scheme of things.
So if you’re having a bad day, here are 10 things that will matter a lot less in 10 years’ time:
1. Your failures.
There are times where you plan everything out carefully, take the necessary precautions, and proceed to…fall flat on your face. Afterward, you might feel ashamed, frustrated, or dejected.
But you know what? Life moves on.
Like a river, we find a way around obstacles. Something that seems glaringly embarrassing right now will become barely even a blip years later. The more you try, the more you will fail. But you’ll feel better for having tried. Eventually, those same failures will help you grow and become better.
2. Your worries.
Uncertainty is at the root of anxiety. When you worry, you imagine the possibilities that can unfold. What are people saying behind my back? What if I don’t get the job I want? Am I ever going to get out of this bad situation?
Whenever you’re stuck at a crossroads, your mind worries about how things will turn out. Yet, the actual pain we experience usually isn’t as bad as the pain we feel when we anticipate about it. Often, the worst case scenario doesn’t even happen at all.
Over time, you realize that worrying is an exhaustive activity that only drives you in circles. You learn to let things pan out and deal with issues as they crop up.
3. Getting ahead in life.
When you were younger, there were clear markers of who was doing well compared to their peers. People could see who was getting the top grades, which college someone was accepted into, and so forth. But as time wears on, the concept of winning matters less.
Everyone has their own road to travel on. Each person has their ups and downs. At some point, it’s hard to quantify who is doing better because everyone has their own value system. Determine what your values are and aspire towards those, as opposed to what others expect from you.
4. Being in control.
The weather. Other people’s actions. The circumstances we were born into. These are only a few of the many things that are outside our control. Despite our ability to make decisions every waking second, there will always be some elements that can’t be fixed.
Often, you cannot force things to happen. One woman I knew said that every time she tried to force a connection with someone, she always regretted it. Eventually, we learn to recognize what is within our power to change, and to let go of what is outside our control.
5. Getting what you want.
Have you ever really, really wanted something? You did whatever was within your power, only to not get what you wanted. You felt crushed at the time. Yet when you look back years later, you figure it was for the best.
Sure, it might be a case of “sour grapes”. But the more likely reason for the mindset change is that what we wanted five, ten years ago is different from what we want today. We recover from disappointments and carry on because our needs and wants change. As we go through different stages of life, our priorities shift.
6. Maintaining relationships for the sake of it.
Relationships matter. Having someone to support you, whether it’s a friend, partner, or a mentor, goes a long way to improving your quality of life. Most importantly, it’s the quality of those relationships that count.
In a study involving marriages and health, researchers found that good marriages correlate with longevity, while unhealthy marriages and being unmarried have the opposite effect. Why? Because not having those strong relationships leads to increased stress levels, poor dietary and exercise habits, and a lack of social support. In turn, the risk of heart attack and cancer increases.
Being in a toxic relationship or maintaining ties simply out of obligation wears you down and incites negative emotions. Eventually, you only keep in touch with those who matter the most and uplift you.
7. How others perceive you.
Remember how social acceptance was critical to survival back in school? You had to contend with daily dilemmas such as the way you looked, the way you dressed, and the way you acted. While others’ perceptions of us still matter as we get older, the way they matter changes with time.
At an earlier age, we strive to fit in. We try to conform to an acceptable mold. But as we move through life, we let go of conforming and create our own mold. We draw ourselves closer to those with similar values.
No matter what you do, some people will applaud you, some will criticize, and most won’t care. With time, you care less and less about what others think and do what’s best for yourself. Because, ultimately, it’s your life that you’re living.
8. How you perceive others.
It’s easy to judge. You look at someone else and think: Why can’t he just try harder? Why would she do that?
Sometimes, people make decisions that seem strange or downright crazy. I used to look at someone’s actions and wonder why the person did that. But as I encountered similar situations, their actions started to make a lot more sense.
As you get older, you gain more experiences. Then, you look back at others’ situations and realize that there was a reason behind their actions. You become less judgmental with time. After all, you won’t fully understand unless you’ve been in a person’s situation.
9. Physical possessions.
Everyone loves getting presents. When you hold up a shiny, new object for the first time, you feel a rushing surge of adrenaline. The problem is, those exciting feelings fade away. Your once bright object becomes another item in your home.
If you’re buying an object for a specific use, that’s one thing. For instance, I love my mug warmer. It keeps my coffee warm and satisfying. But if you’re buying something because you think it’ll make you happy, you’ll find your happiness short-lived.
As you get older, you start accumulating fewer objects. You begin to value experiences over physical possessions. In the end, you realize that those memories and the people you share them with stay with you.
10. Instant gratification.
In our fast-paced society, we’re used to convenience. If you want to order food, talk to someone, or be entertained, simply turn to one of your electronic devices. When you want something, you want it now.
That might work when you’re looking for a quick fix, but it doesn’t work for the bigger goals. Patience is an undervalued trait today. Things often don’t pan out immediately. When you try to fix a long-term issue with a short-term answer, you end up crashing and burning.
Time often reveals the solutions you’re looking for. As you get older, you learn that playing the long game is the fastest route. When you embrace learning, growth, and experiences, you might find yourself going down a route you had never expected.