The other day, I was wiling away the afternoon reading through some of my favourite websites when I came across an article by Gretchen Rubin. One phrase jumped out at me and articulated an issue that I really struggle with.
‘The days are long but the years are short.’
Naturally, I googled the quote and came up with a ton of parenting blogs with mums (and it is always mums) vowing to appreciate their children more.
But for me, these words mean something slightly different. My childhood wasn’t the best and I suffered from depression and anxiety in my teens. I blamed all my problems on home and school and genuinely believed that life would be sunshine and rainbows once I went to university.
Of course, I was wrong. I spent the first two and half years having a breakdown and the remainder trying to pull myself together. I scraped through. I had to resit an exam and graduate six months late, and ended up unemployed for a year.
Essentially, when I was in High School, I prayed the days and the weeks would pass so I could get away to university. At university, I just wanted to get through to graduation. I’ve wished away the days, the weeks and the years just wanting to fast-forward to the good bit.
Now I’m 24, I have a good job and a clear direction but I’m still in the mind space that the only thing that matters is the bigger picture. Happiness is in the future, the present is just something I have to endure to get there.
The thing is, I know that if one day all my dreams come true (and I’m perhaps naively optimistic that they will), then I’ll look back and think I could have enjoyed the journey.
I feel guilty about spending money or time on things that give me pleasure in the now, and feel the responsibility to focus solely on the long-term. The years are important, the days are not.
But these words remind me that the days are important. They are long and they are valuable. Happy days add up to happy years or, as my Grandmother always says, ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.’
I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel that the present must be continually sacrificed for the future. In fact, it’s likely somewhat of an epidemic amongst young professionals. Hustle today to enjoy tomorrow, then when tomorrow comes hustle to enjoy the next day ad infinitum.
But it is not necessary to choose between the days or the years because they are same thing. My resolution is to appreciate the now and give myself permission to enjoy the present. I have faith that as the years go by, it will prove to be a good decision.