At the rate I’m going, I’m never going to be happy. Sure, I’ll experience moments of happiness, but I will never arrive at the destination I’ve set for my personal happiness.
Let me explain.
I’ve recently noticed a phrase popping up in my vocabulary way too often: “I can’t wait.”
“I can’t wait until I have my own place”
“I can’t wait until I pay off my student loans”
“I can’t wait to get married”
“I can’t wait to own my own business”
I could write out a hundred of these. I actually say it most often to my boyfriend, because I’m missing him so much more now that I’m living back at home & he’s still living on campus. It’s difficult only seeing him every few days when we were accustomed to living just a few apartment buildings away from each other, so I find myself anticipating the future at the expense of appreciating the present.
“I can’t wait” really does seem like a harmless thing to say. It indicates excitement and eagerness for the future, and can also help to frame positive thinking about expecting a good outcome in life.
But this phrase has an insidious and limiting implication. This phrase sets a time for when I can be happy, and it’s implying that the time to be happy isn’t now.
I so clearly remember being miserable in high school. I just couldn’t wait to graduate and move on to college. I started my freshman year full of excitement, and enjoyed the new experience of living away from home for the first time. But after the first two years of college, I was ready for life post-grad. Or so I thought! I couldn’t wait to be graduated! And now that I’m graduated, I already have an even bigger list of new things to wait for to be happy.
What I know, but just need to drill into my head, is that there will always be something to look forward to. I don’t want to spend my life yearning for tomorrow instead of choosing to be content today. I don’t want to wait until I get married to be happy, because then after that, I’ll be waiting to go on that vacation, move into that nicer house, pay off that debt, have kids, then send the kids to college, have grand kids, retire- I could be waiting for happiness my whole life. There are seasons in our lives for a reason, and we need to learn how to appreciate each one for what it is.
So, I can wait. I can wait for something while still being happy with where I’m at now. I refuse to ignore the blessing sitting in front of my face only to clamor impatiently for the next one. My challenge to myself is to start saying, “I’m so excited”, in place of “I can’t wait”. I want to re-frame my thinking, and I encourage you to do the same!