“The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side”

Or, alternatively: “Is true happiness really possible?”

Today’s post topic, and existential crisis, is brought to you by ponies! Specifically, the princesses of the day and night.

Yes, I am completely serious. The idea for this post was sparked by a discussion about pretty cartoon horses. I’m unsure of what to think of that too.

I recently ordered a book titled The Journal of the Two Sisters, which gives some much needed background to my favorite ponies of the show. The very first entry states the two sisters dreamed of being princesses since they were fillies/children, so becoming princesses in their adulthood was like a dream come true to them (for anyone unfamiliar with the series, “princess” is an earned title, not one attained through birthright). However, their present lives as princesses, to put it bluntly, sucks.

Of course, that’s not made blatant because at the end of the day, this is a series intended for girls below the age of 7. But both princesses, at worst, have some heavy mental struggles, one more so than the other. At best, they only need a really good therapist. The older sister is hinted to have depression, but fake happiness for the sake of her subjects. She will do things that may result in heavy consequences for the sake of being genuinely happy temporarily. In other words, she’d rather be happy now and deal with the consequences later. The younger sister, partially due to a millennium of solitary confinement, has mental trauma so badly, she resorted to psychologically tormenting herself and attempted to ruin a surprise celebration being planned in her honor because she believed she was unworthy of being celebrated. She’s only able to see her downfalls in herself and the mistakes she’s made. The younger sister’s problems are more evident, but I am able to relate to both of them because I do and feel the same.

As ordinary children, they wanted to be princesses. As princesses, they long for a normal life. And there’s no aspect of life I know of that doesn’t cause a similar internal crisis.

As children, many of us want to be adults. As adults, many of us long to return to childhood. The only reason I don’t want to return to childhood is mine was an awful one overall. But even then, I can list things I miss and long to have back. Yet, if I did return to childhood, even a more pleasant one, I’d likely long for adulthood all over again.

When I worked as a cashier, I wanted to work on the floor because the frequent interaction with people was, to be blunt for a moment, soul-sucking, and I got very easily agitated and hyper from being forced to remain in one place for too long. While I’d still prefer floor work overall, I can’t lie and say I don’t have some complaints. In addition to that I failed my probation (and being truthful to myself, I should never have tried in the first place), I spend almost every day panicking over the work that isn’t finished and how I can’t do six things at once. I don’t know how to fix everything I’m supposed to fix, and being someone who enjoys organizing, I’m extremely frustrated when I can’t organize. In short, the work of the floor is endless, and yet, there are times I cannot figure out what to do, how to do it, or if I even did it correctly. And in eight hours, I can’t do it all. To say it feels crushing is an understatement, and I’ve brought my own self-judgment and self-awareness into heavy question because I thought I was getting better, only to learn I wasn’t. It’s not the first time I’ve made that mistake, and I can’t stop wondering if I’m kind of egomaniac who has yet to realize it, or I’m just a sucker for not learning my lesson about being naive and getting in over my head. The only thing I’ve really learned is to never try anything new, or you’re going down. It’s a lesson I’ve learned more than once, but I plan on letting it stick this time. I can’t imagine it’ll be forgettable.

And yet, if (or when) I return to my original position as a cashier, I’ll be longing to put up with all that frustration again in place of my problems with being a cashier. To be good at what you hate and bad at what you like is truly one of life’s cruel ironies.

And there are many more I can name, from both experience and observation, but this post would get longer than I’d prefer it to. The message here overall is, as my title states, “the grass is always greener on the other side”. But if that’s the case, it leaves me wondering if being happy in life is really possible. Yes, I know everything has its downsides, but if the “inside” is always worse than the “outside” – if we’ll always long for the opposite, only to see we should’ve been content where we are, despite we won’t be content if we return – how is real happiness possible? We’re always going to want something else that seems better, only to discover we were dreadfully wrong, but it’s no better, or may even be worse, than what we had before. I almost question if a life of happiness itself is fictional, like the characters who sparked this topic. Of course, it’s not a new idea I had. I’ve felt this way for a long time. The fictional setting merely brought it out tonight. Perhaps that’s why “happily ever after” is so famous as a story closer in fairytales.

Of course, it’s easy to say I’m overthinking, but why shouldn’t I think about this? I’ve yet to discover anything good come from “letting life happen”, as it’s said, and while I know not everything can be planned, I’ll never be comfortable with the idea life entirely is uncontrollable. After all, we wouldn’t have free will if that were the case. If true happiness is fake, I can stop pursuing a goal that’s non-existent. And if it is real, I suppose I can keep trying. In the case of the latter, trying to achieve it will either end in joy or end in sorrow at the end of my life, whenever that shall be. I’ll know when that times comes, not that I want it to any time soon (or ever, but death is inevitable).

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United In Struggle

A common question kids are asked is what they want to be when they grow up. As teens, that question becomes, “What do you want to do after high school?” (usually, the expected answer is college and little more than that). As an adult, the question is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or any number of years, but I’ve mostly heard five.

For me, the answer is: I don’t know.

While I’m not one to think life just happens with zero control over its events, I don’t think in the other extreme of having absolute control over everything. My life certainly has not gone as planned, and I do not mean solely my adulthood. My life has been going unplanned since my childhood days. While I’m not entirely ungrateful, it’s only because the end result is I lived through it to reach what I’m happy to have now. And even that can be counted on one hand.

Something I have noticed with my co-workers is almost everyone either attends college or has a second job. The former is obvious, but in the case of the latter, it’s simply because it’s that hard to manage for them. And of the jobs I know, their first ones aren’t what’s usually considered low-paying. On one occasion, I also had a customer mention he works three jobs. Why? To pay his mortgage. Even my former clinician, who is well-established in her career of 10+ years as a psychologist by now, has told me she and her husband resides in his family’s home because they struggle financially otherwise.

That is truly terrifying to me, even more so than having nothing planned to begin with. I understand what they do is out of necessity, but merely one job for me creates feelings my life is slowly descending into a meaningless existence of work and sleep. To need to hold two or three to survive? I question if passing life in a coma would be preferable. I suppose those examples emphasize everyone has it hard in some way, but that’s little comfort to me. I do not want to have the same struggles at 33 I’m having at 23.

If someone were to ask where I see myself in five years, I truly couldn’t answer. Any position I’ve gotten myself in, especially my job, has been unexpected. If someone asked me in 2015 where I saw myself in 2016, the answer would not have been anything close to working. The truth is I cannot see myself in any position I’m not currently in or haven’t been in previously. Until it happens, I subconsciously believe it can’t happen.

Perhaps this is another discovery of adulthood taking me by surprise and I’m slow at keeping up. At 23, I feel as if I haven’t aged a day past childhood, despite my life as it stands resembles nothing of my childhood (and I’d have killed myself by now if it did). In the end, many things feel very confusing and I’m uncertain if they’re supposed to feel any other way. The one thing I’m certain of is no matter how much I learn, how much better I supposedly become, I still feel like I know absolutely nothing. That makes no sense, and as far as I can tell, neither does much else.

A Teen In Her Twenties

There is something about myself I cannot stop laughing at.

When I was a teenager, my family constantly told me I wasn’t a normal teen. “Normal” teenagers hang out at the mall with their friends every weekend and normal 20-year-olds hang out into the early hours of the morning every night. I stayed indoors, keeping to myself as I played video games, watched television, and browsed the internet. Not an exciting life, but a quiet one. Interestingly, they never answered the question of where a jobless teenager would get the money for weekly shopping trips.

However, I am 23 and I am now more of a “normal” teenager than I ever was during my teen years.

  • I do shop. A lot. Granted, this is mostly due to getting an employee discount from the store I work, but I shop plenty at other stores too, mostly online. I am getting control of this habit now, but when I first got my job and, later on, my credit line, it was crazy.
  • I have a boyfriend. More so, I have a secret boyfriend. Hiding who you’re dating from your family is definitely a teenage thing!
  • While I don’t have a group of friends, I do have one best friend I hang out with when our schedules allow it. We don’t hang around at the mall, but we do hang around each other’s houses and watch anime together.
  • I have a lot more drama now than I did in high school, and at one point, that did include jealousy and boy drama, a problem I never had in high school!
  • I go out a lot, even when I don’t work. My days off are taken by my boyfriend, my best friend, or errands I’m trying to get done. It’s to the point my family now occasionally complains I’m not home enough whereas they used to complain I stayed in too much.
  • I’m more social at work than I was at school. I talk to new co-workers without shyness and while I would only call one or two of them friends, I easily get along with almost everyone.

Of course, having a job is the reason behind most of this. I shopped because I have money to shop with. I have money for transportation. And I can still save up money by budgeting and not losing my mind. Somehow, having a job has done a lot for my self-confidence in more than only work-related aspects.

I know being a “23-year-old teenager” isn’t really something to brag about, but it makes me curious about how I’ll be when I’m in my late twenties. I can’t say I’d be unhappy with a life that has my “sister”, the love of my life, and some shopping and hanging out mixed in with everything else I enjoy in life.

A Different Jealousy

I’m beginning to wonder if relationship jealousy would be easier to handle than this.

My family is jealous of how I treat my boyfriend. To be more specific, they believe I treat him “like a king” while I treat them “like crap”. The problem here is they were jealous because… I wore a dress.

I very rarely wear dresses, but I chose to for our anniversary weekend. Somehow, my family believes daring to wear a dress for a special occasion means trying to impress someone rather than just doing something special for a day that’s, well, special.

In other words, treating my boyfriend like a king means wearing a dress to his house. Meanwhile, treating them like crap was akin to… not giving them the password to my personal computer.

If there were ever one absolute bit of proof that shows how poisonous my family is when it comes to relationships, it’s this. I don’t expect a date between my boyfriend and me to be of any importance to them, but to be jealous over your family member’s partner? To get upset because I wear a dress for one special day instead of all the time at home?

To be truthful, a small part of me always suspected jealousy from them, but I don’t like to play the “you’re just jealous” card because I see it as immature. But I really don’t know what else to call it. It’s not the first time they’ve gotten upset about me spending time with my boyfriend. It’s just the only time they’ve accused me of treating him better than them. They make the same accusation when it comes to how I treat my friends too.

The kind of funny thing is they might be right. It’s not something I can personally see, but there’s a good chance I do treat my boyfriend better than I treat them. Except what they view as “special treatment” is really just the treatment that results when you don’t demand respect because “well, I say so”. My boyfriend and I have had our pitfalls, yes, but most of the time, we treat each other well and respect each other’s space and feelings. Most of my family wouldn’t know “respect” if it smacked them behind the head, and it’s a generational thing.

To give a recent example, my father wiped out my computer. It’d broken down and I intended to take it to a tech expert to be fixed. Instead, he took it upon himself without any permission from me whatsoever to try repairing it, and worsened the problem. On top of that, he had no idea why I was so upset, which didn’t surprise me since it wasn’t his computer he wiped out. Prior to this, he’d used my computer numerous times without asking, often when I was asleep or out of the house. When I restarted the computer after it was wiped, I set up the personal account again, but did not re-enable the guest account. Yet, he still tried to use it without my permission and asked for my password while I was visiting my boyfriend. I didn’t respond to the messages and deleted them.

This happened after a night where my dad and my grandfather had a heated argument that became physical because the latter intended to drive the family’s car while drunk. The car is under my father’s name and he believed my grandfather would get into an accident, which would result in him being penalized. That’s a legitimate concern, but my grandfather did not care at all. Note that my grandfather also has no valid license, which means he’d be breaking two laws. I don’t believe physical violence is how to solve things (my dad says my grandfather attacked him first; I didn’t see what happened), but look at the link there. My grandfather has zero concern for what could badly affect someone else. Thus, my dad, who was raised by this man, doesn’t either.

Those stories are two of many examples across my family. And yet, they still believe they’re entitled to my respect for no other reason than “family comes first”. If I really do treat my boyfriend better than I treat them, I have no guilt about that. Their jealousy isn’t something I’m going to worry myself about. At this point, I’m genuinely convinced they simply do not want me to realize the way they think of and treat people isn’t a positive thing. I figured that out years ago, but the more I get out into the world, the clearer it becomes. I often think about how my teenage self would be horrified if she knew what she’d be doing in the years to come, but maybe it was so horrifying because I was afraid of what I didn’t know and only had my family’s stories to go on. As it turned out, the world outside of what my family made for me is tough, but not so scary. It’s big and bright and alluring. They know it. And they know they can’t keep me from it anymore.

Which Priority Is Which?

I mentioned briefly in my last post I was hoping to move out by my 24th birthday next year. But lately, I’ve been considering postponing that even further.

At 23, I do not have my driver’s license. I’ve wanted it since I turned 18, but I never tried to get it because I didn’t see any point since I’d have no car to drive, and eventually, I forgot about it entirely. Lately, however, it’s been on my mind again due to my job. More specifically, because I’m gaining a growing hatred for public transportation.

The problem here is for the time being, it has to be one or the other: the apartment or the car. I feel like the answer should be obvious, yet I’m having trouble deciding which to make the priority. Both would bring me freedom I crave, but I cannot decide which advantages are worth more.

Advantages of having my own (or willingly shared) apartment:

  • My own living space
  • Living alone, or with my best friend or boyfriend
  • No smoking, drunkenness, and loud noise
  • No one touching my things without my permission (I’m fortunate my boyfriend and my best friend have manners!)
  • Not having to hear gossip or petty complaining
  • Being able to bring my boyfriend to my house almost any time (or my best friend if my boyfriend is my roommate; she’s asthmatic, so I can’t let her come to my family’s apartment)

Advantages of having a car for myself:

  • Not needing to rely on public transportation (except when I travel to visit my boyfriend)
  • More choice in where I can work
  • Less restriction on where I can travel in general
  • Shopping is easier since I don’t need to lug bags on a bus or train (even a bunch of small bags can be a nuisance)
  • More places to go with my best friend and boyfriend (these two awesome people get all the free rides they want!)
  • A small place to go when my family inside wears on my nerves. It’s illegal to live in a car, but not to sit and unwind in it for a while.
  • Aside from an auto accident or something else unforeseen, I’d never have to worry about being late for work because the bus or train is running late (and trains frequently have delays!). I use Lyft’s service in these cases, but their prices fluctuate, so it can get costly.

I’m aware having a car is more than just making monthly payments because there are expenses like repairs and maintenance. Likewise, I realize living by myself or with a roommate in an apartment is more than just the rent, as there are also utilities to pay for. In the case of the car, I still have to get my driver’s license to begin with. Plus, I’m assuming I’ll even be able to find someone to lease an apartment or a car to me (my credit history is nearly non-existent). I fully expect I’ll panic for a period of time and feel like I’m in over my head. But that happens to me with almost everything, so I’m willing to experience that and let it pass.

I’m not sure if I should be deciding which advantages are worth more, or which disadvantages are worth less. I also worry whichever I choose, I’ll regret not taking the other one, but I can’t change my mind on a whim about such a big choice (not without heavy consequences anyway).

I don’t know if this is a sign I’m still trying to fit myself into adulthood, and failing miserably at it, or I’m indecisive and nothing more.