#Adulting: Be your own sunshine

Growing up is tough — but if we weren’t always growing, we wouldn’t be alive. #Adulting is a monthly-ish column where I reflect on life, growth, and lessons learned.

We went to a fortune teller. I’d never been to one before, and neither had he — but when you’re at a camping-slash-music festival set in the middle of the lake against which your home city is nestled, you’re willing to try a new thing or two. And this wasn’t any fortune teller. This was a self-branded literary fortune teller.

It was weird. Everyone had their palms read, with some insight into their character and abstractions about their destiny. When it was my turn, she just said: Joy.

“Joy. When I look at you, I see so much joy.”

“Awesome! Anything else?”

“Nope. Just joy.”

I could use some joy. Rent isn’t cheap. Textbooks aren’t cheap, either. I don’t have enough hours in the day to do all the things I want/need to do, and still sleep as much as I’d like to. I think I’m pivoting. I can’t seem to hit that sweet spot between over- and underwhelmed; I either have too much on my plate, or I’m floating around aimless and unchallenged. These days it’s almost always the former. I have high expectations of myself, and I’m constantly straining myself to meet them. My iron is always low. My roomie and I still don’t have a couch.

This paragraph could go on for pages. Everyone has a paragraph like it. There are so many little pieces in everyone’s life that are less-than-perfect all the time, and it feels like a release to express them.

But it’s not.

This is a lesson I’ve been learning for a long time, but it’s only solidifying now that I’m in this stage of my life of #adulting. When you talk about what’s not going right, all you’re doing is talking about what’s not going right.

I was just told I’m full of joy, and I’m going to choose to believe it. The fact that I’m even worried about rent means that I succeeded in finding a place that checked all my boxes. I’m at my dream school; the school where I followed my sister around to her classes, and imagined one day going there myself. I have so many interests and passions — part of personal growth is learning to prioritize, and to take care of myself along the way. I’m open to the different directions in which my life could take me. I’m trying to find a balance, which means I am on the right track in my thinking. Being busy all the time means I have built internal resilience to keep myself going, even through the most hectic days. High expectations lead to high-quality results, and learning to manage my expectations for myself is just another lesson. I can take iron supplements. We will eventually buy a couch — and until then, we have a futon.

Nobody is going to be your voice of positivity for you. Some people can fill the role on occasion, but it’s nobody’s job to uplift you when you are capable of uplifting yourself. And we all are. Even as much as we are all wired in different ways, brain chemistry notwithstanding, a big part of changing your behaviour is changing your thoughts.

So change your thoughts. Be your own sunshine. Frame everything in the best light. I promise, it’ll make everything in your mind so much more pleasant to look at.

If someone had told me in my adolescence that one day, a person who doesn’t know me would look at me and say, “Joy,” I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend it. Where you are is not necessarily a measure of where you will one day be. Likewise, where you’ve been doesn’t have to be where you are now.

No one, not even a self-made literary fortune teller, can tell you where the future will take you.

You take yourself there.

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