I think one of the things that helps us remain positive and stay sane as we grow older is our increasingly widened perspective of the world that naturally occurs as we move further away from difficult situations and feelings.
Life is a bit like a rocket ship speeding away from earth in real time. One day at a time.
When you’re younger, the rocket is so near to the ground that everything in the cabin windows looks close, within arms reach. And there’s no context for what’s happening on the periphery.
Everything is confusing because you’re a “first timer.” Many of the feelings you’ll have and interactions you’ll be a part of are genuinely new experiences, and that creates a lot of uncertainty for how to deal.
“Should I have told her what I really thought of her idea?”
“Is he going to be upset that I have to break my promise?”
“What if she doesn’t love me back?”
Remember how frustrating some parts of high school were, and how trivial those experiences seem now, with perspective?
That’s your life in a microcosm.
But then, as you begin seeing some of the same scenarios play out over and over between different people, you begin to get a little more perspective on life.
Your rocket ship is gaining some distance from the ground, and it’s easier to see more of the field of play. The things that people say, the painful situations you encounter, some of the confusing questions, become a tiny bit clearer as each year passes.
This isn’t to say it is any easier to deal with these challenges. But you’re not as shellshocked by them, and that helps you maintain a happier perspective when life gets rocky.
Over the past year, I’ve realized three things that have been immensely comforting:
1. Very few situations are truly urgent and most urgency is a result of procrastination. You can fix that by being more proactive and avoid a ton of stress.
2. Making regular mistakes is part of the game and doesn’t ruin your life. Almost everybody forgets (or completely misses) when you make a mistake, but many people will take notice when you win. So try more things that might not work.
3. You can still succeed, even if you’re not 100% confident all the time. Certainty is not a prerequisite for making good decisions and coming out on top.
It takes getting a bit older to clear out some of the mental fog, but I wish I could have realized earlier that nothing in life is truly fatal.
The only thing that’ll really take you out is death.