Thinking back to how I was before I started college two years ago, I have noticed that my everyday behavior and personality has changed quite a bit from how it was at the end of high school. My senior year of high school was a blast, it was a time spent with some of my best friends whom I still hang out with today. We weren’t taking life seriously and not really giving a shit since we still didn’t have any huge responsibilities at the time. It was a wonderful time and an entire year that felt like a vacation. Then college came along and even though I loved being on my own for the first time, studying the field that would fuel a career after school served as a wake up call for me to figure out where I wanted to go with my life. From then on I began to question everything in, out, and around me to make sense of my future.
This inquisition caused a drastic change to my everyday behavior and I began to take life very seriously, in terms of deciding what my future should hold for me. Granted, I do not regret this period of time, in fact I am better person from experiencing it because I grew so much as a person during that era. At first, the constant brainstorming of a bajillion ideas and questions was a fun and fresh experience, but the more time I spent in this state of “idealand”, the more draining it became for me, so much so that I slipped into two minor depressions this past year (a problem I’ve had since my sophomore year in high school). My tragic flaw was that I was not allowing these ideas to flourish in the present. I would literally have a thought that I wanted to pursue, but for one reason or another wouldn’t take the action needed to flesh it out. This extended period of time over-planning my future and taking my life too seriously caused me to suffer in the present, a trade that I do not regret, but one I don’t wish to transact again.
Now, you may be thinking, “Well, Michael, that’s all well and dandy, but why the heck did you bring your last year of high school then?” Well, fine sir or miss, the reason I brought that up because it was the most recent time in my life where I was, for the most part, living in the moment and wasn’t taking my life too seriously. Sure, I did plan for the future and had responsibilities, but when those were never in the forefront of my mind each morning when I woke up.
No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now. –Alan Watts
For the past two years, and maybe even the majority of my living memory, I’ve been planning everything out, building up expectations for those plans, without knowing how to live in the moment. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve realized how flawed that mentality is, because it is almost impossible to find happiness when thinking too long in the future. So go ahead and stop taking life too seriously, toast to this moment, and don’t give a shit about the future because, sometimes, that is the most powerful and freeing thing you can do on the planet.