Now, I may be one of the last twenty-somethings my elders would consider ‘mature’, but I have learned a few things over the last half-decade. The most important of which is that we shouldn’t measure our quality of life by comparing it to that of others. It has undoubtedly been the hardest life lesson for me to wrap my mind around but once it sunk in, I was free.
In college, I used to get so angry at my peers for having it ‘so easy’. Skipping to their hometowns for Christmas while I was left in my roach infested apartment, 1500 miles away from my family; or enjoying multiple Thanksgivings with friends and family while I was alone, lamenting on the perils of being (much) lower-middle class. I constantly compared our lives and it greatly inhibited my happiness.
At the time, I didn’t appreciate that I was having a richer experience away from California, filled with tradition and antiquity. In my folly, I failed to see that I was so incredibly lucky to be in University at all. I was clouded by the misery of comparison and ungrateful for the many blessings I had in life. Growing up under the hard hand of my single-dad built character; holding multiple jobs established work ethic; the distance from my family created a sense of independence and made the act of building life-long relationships with friends a priority. I learned from the parents of my exes the lessons I hadn’t picked up in my own youth: lessons on worthiness, love, tolerance, and patience. All these experiences cultivated the person I am today.
It took years to cognize, but I finally resolved the following:
I am a tree and you are a tree; we are all beautiful trees. The tree has no control over where it is rooted in the forest, nor does it have control over the environmental factors that manipulate how it grows. So just soak up the sun, and rejoice in all your experiences as a tree at all.