what did you think would make you happy?

Continuing on the idea of reflection — I have a 26 mile drive into town, so…

I thought about what I might have wished for when I was 18, diving into the world.  I don’t remember what I wished for.  Probably something shallow, like glamour and riches.

Some of my friends in high school knew exactly what they wanted to do, and be, and went right about making it happen.  One of my junior high school friends knew she wanted to be a lawyer in 6th grade.  That wasn’t really big for girls in the early 60s.  She ultimately became the first woman lawyer for a major national equipment manufacturer.  I hope it was everything she wished for.

I was never that driven.  I didn’t find anything to be “driven” about until I started painting when I was 50.  That was the first thing that I thought about day and night and was consumed with — other than the random dramatic love affair back in the day, of course.

I’m pretty sure I wasn’t mature enough at 18 to simply wish to “be happy” or I wouldn’t have had so many bad boyfriends.

The new age concept of envisioning the life you wish to have and pulling it in had not really evolved then, but it was evolving, and I’m sure I bought into some elements of that.  I was enough of a hippy to believe in karma, and I still do. We do reap what we so.  But it wasn’t until much later that I learned to do directed dreaming.  So, at 18 it was largely “daydreams.”

What were yours?

Did you have a “thank the Academy” speech? A magazine cover?

I read recently that young people are taking vacations based on their Instagram value.  It’s probably why they’re falling off cliffs.

I am snarky about young people whose highest aspirations are to be famous, no matter how.  But I suppose when you are young, there is always going to be a little of that.  We all think we’re pretty cool when we’re young — in between bouts of crippling uncertainty!

You have to have a few mistakes under your belt, overcome them and move on, before you develop real confidence. Otherwise it’s not confidence, it’s posturing. Mistakes are the university of life.  I had a boss once who was a real piece of work and he told me one day that he had never failed at anything he’d done.  My first thought was “rubbish! You’re lying.”  But my second thought was, “if you really think that, it explains why you are such a miserable human being.”  Keeping up a façade of perfection is bad enough, but if you’ve never reached out of your comfort zone far enough to fail — at anything — you’ve never tested your own mettle.

So, since we know that life is really just a matter of surviving with the tools we’ve been given, learning as much as we can, accepting ourselves warts and all, and trying to find the happiest pieces — does it have anything at all to do with what we thought life would be like?

My daughter just posted a sarcastic little thought about all this — about thinking high schoolers were cool when you were younger, then that college kids were cooler, and so on, and getting to adulthood only to find out that we’re all out here floundering around day to day, figuring it out as we go.  We all wish we knew “the answer,” but none of us do.  And being a “grown-up” just gives you the freedom to make bigger mistakes!

When my son was in his twenties he was very disappointed to discover that being an adult was pretty much just putting one foot in front of the other. Every day.  The exciting “peaks” are very, very much outnumbered by massive flat valleys of simple work-a-day stuff.  That can be a tough realization too.

So, what did YOU want to be when you grew up?  Did you become it?  Is it what you wanted?  What did you learn along the way? And did it bring you happiness?

About CJS

living in my beloved Lowcountry, between the blackwater swamps and the saltmarshes, surrounded by pre-colonial history.....thinking about current events....painting the wonderful cities that make up our heroic country....hoping we can save it from apathy, and our enemies....pondering a life of adventure from the comfort of age
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