Whoever said life was a box of chocolates was clearly wrong. Life is definitely not caramel and gourmet cocoa swirled with berry filling, all nestled in a pretty little package. Life, in short, stinks 89% of the time. (At least, I think it does). Sure, you’ve got your good moments and your great moments, but you also have tons of awful, and horrible moments.
Maybe life looks better when you want to say something poetic, when the proverbial lemons have been handed down to you by the blessed literary greats. But here’s the nitty gritty; not everyone likes lemonade. (I, for one, happen to be extremely fond of green tea).
Oh, Life. Every since we came out of the womb we’ve had our problems. From hovering new parents to doting grandmothers smothering you in ancient floral perfume, baby life was hard. Everything was loud, bright, noisy and unknown. Germs were everywhere. I mean, you couldn’t go a week without getting some sort of cold!. (This, of course, led to those ancy parents racing you to the emergency room. “She’s dying doctor!” “Ma’am, it was a sneeze”). You cough, and they’re preparing your funeral-and you aren’t even walking yet.
Then came the toddler years, where it was ‘what’s this’ and ‘does this taste good?’. Pudgy legs transported curious minds into a world of discovery. Grubby hands christened with everything from Windex to watermelon juice ran across your mother’s china (which she never used) and her favorite skirt (which she always wore). Bright pink tongue stuck out in defiance, bottom lip quivering as the punishment was delivered. Shattered this, broken that- you were a hurricane of slobber and garbled words. But you were cute, so know one really cared.
The elementary years were answering the questions you asked as a toddler. (Why is the sky blue? “Because” is the answer I still get) Elementary was when school was still easy- when 2+2=4 and I didn’t need to know how to calculate the mass and volume of the sun. Friends were made and pigtails swished as you ran around the playground, that annoyingly painful mulch getting sandwiched in your shoes. There was no drama, no petty fights, and no romance. Life was bliss and happy. Sure, there was the whole “He BIT me!” instances, but other than that, nothing pretty eventful happens during the wee days of our youth.
Sadly, your perfect world disappeared, like an iridescent soap bubble being popped in mid air, with two words that create havoc when they are uttered. Middle School. Frankly, I don’t remember sixth grade at all. Did I even learn anything? Was I alive? Anyway, no matter. If something life-altering had happened to me in that year, I would’ve known. I think. Seventh and eighth grade was when the real world came and bit me in my innocent rear-end. Even though I went through a bunch of things that I wish I could surgically remove, I learned two very important things.
Firstly, not everyone will like you. I know that many people will read this and think, ‘well duh’, but the realization that not every human being will find you funny, happy, or enjoyable can bring you to your knees. Not everyone will like you. There are some really stinky people in the world. (I don’t mean they smell bad, but that their personality gives off an odor that makes people dislike them). People will find things wrong with you, and sadly, they may or may not tell you why. At first, this epiphany was depressing for me. As humans we want people to love us; it’s an instinct to want to feel accepted and wanted by people, and when we aren’t, we think something's wrong with us. But it made me be grateful for the people, however few, that do love and accept me the way I am. So no, not everyone will like you- but you’ve got to be content to be loved deeply and not widely.
My second lesson began in middle school and ended in high-school. This one is important, so I’ve taken the liberty to write it in bold italics with all capital letters. YOU MUST BE OKAY WITH WHO YOU ARE OR YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO TRULY ACCEPT ANYONE ELSE. Pardon my outburst, there won’t be anymore. (No promises). You have got to be able to look in the mirror and not want to smash it. Sure, we’ve all made really, really bad decisions- but if you allow your previous actions to gauge who you are, then you aren’t seeing yourself. You merely glimpse a projection of the failure you think everyone else sees. (Trust me, people are much more concerned of how they appear to everyone else than how much of a mess you actually are.)
I have learned that choosing to not focus on the mistakes I’ve made has helped me actually get over them. If we are stuck looking backwards at all our messups and bad decisions, then eventually we will trip and hurt ourselves. Stop looking at what you’ve done wrong and simply push yourself to not make the same wrong choice. If we all stopped focusing on how bad we feel and started noticing how good others are, then a lot of problems wouldn’t be as big.
Don’t worry about how other feel towards you, or how many likes you get. There's more to life than your food post or inspirational quote. Make it your goal to eliminate other people’s worries; never let them doubt your love for them. When you can get past yourself and see that we are all messed up, (if we’re honest), then we can focus on one another and suddenly the messed-upness of being a human being isn’t so bad. (Sorta how everyone had a mullet in the eighties so it wasn't really that horrible). Give hugs to those who look down, look people in the eyes when they talk, squeeze whoever’s hand you’re holding, and belt out cords to an off-beat indie song.
Because life is so much better when people are nice.
Now, I just read over what I’ve written and realized I probably made no sense, and that I somehow went from life being nothing like chocolates to accepting yourself and others. Life is hard. I get it. I know it. Those lemons aren’t given to use but rather pelted at our head with the accuracy of a pro football player. The chocolate is out of date. All the cherries have been eaten before we got any. Your life has been rocky from day one, for both you and your mother.
But don’t lose sight of what's important. Don't get lost in the midst of education and entertainment and forget the things that really matter. The barista in front of you who you didn’t give a second glance? She has the prettiest blue eyes you’ll ever see. Look at them. Your son’s part-time art teacher tells the best stories. Listen to her. Your aging mother is calm and peaceful as she squints to read her book. Hold her hand and watch her eyes flit over word after word, marvelling at the mystery being unravelled in her hands. The guidance counselor’s hair is standing straight up and her papers have fallen. Hug her, help her up, and then thank her for how much she pours into the school.
I don’t like lemonade, and I am even picky when it comes to chocolate. If I'm honest, I am a pretty pessimistic person. I have my days that are tainted blue. But the minute I stopped thinking so much about my problems, insecurities and issues and started caring, life seemed a whole lot nicer. The moment I got over myself and looked up from my phone, I really saw how wonderful of a life I have. When I started smiling at the people I passed, I began to realize how many people smiled back. I noticed that my best friend gives a tiny, almost inaudible sigh when you hug her. The boy I took for being shallow and obsessed with video games turned out to be a kind-hearted, smart person who has a serious soft spot for dogs. The lemonade was a little bit sweeter, and I got the type of chocolate I liked every once in awhile.
My life has been full of twists and turns, and I know that I'll have more highs and lows. I'm going to have more days when I breathe in and just love being alive with every fiber inside of me. I will also have the days that I sit on my bed, wrapped in a blanket, crying as the rain pours down outside. I know that some people will hurt me, and some people will love me. I'm going to like someone who won't ever love me back, but I'll also get the most enriching feeling of finishing a book and staring at the last page. Here's my advice to you, you fellow wanderer in this journey called life: Enjoy the little things. Look up sometimes, close your eyes, and breathe in. Notice all the other people walking, and instead of liking their picture, give them a smile and tell them what you like about them. You will not only make their day much better, but eventually you'll feel a lot less stressed and happier.
You only get one life, for some of us the end is approaching faster than others. Enjoy it while you have the chance. Because you will want to look back on your life and remember all the times you loved well and laughed hard. Don't look back and only see regret. Be happy- confound people by finding joy in the bleakest circumstances. There's things to laugh about, I promise.
Just watch out for flying lemons.