Fountains of Youth

Madelynn Dake

When I was a little kid, all I wanted to do was grow up. All elementary school me wanted was to be a middle schooler and middle school me just wanted to make it to high school. Yet here I am, a junior at Xavier High School, and I’m realizing that I’ve been letting this kind of thinking rob me of a lot of things. The other day I read a tweet that said, “ I feel like I’m constantly worrying about the next part of my life without realizing that I’m right in the middle of what I used to look forward to.” This sentence sums up a lot of my own thinking and I know others can relate. For so many of us, it’s easier to manifest or obsess about making our future something we are excited about rather than learning to be content with the lives we have. I’ve come to realize that I’ve convinced myself that if I can get to the point in my life I’m worrying or excited about, then I will have ‘made it’. Once I’ve gotten there, I never worry about my future ever again. It’s not true. No matter what phase of life I’m in, I find myself thinking about the next one with more joy than the one I’m currently living. For years I’ve been telling myself that I’ll have a more exciting life when I’m older because I don’t have the kind of life that could ever be exciting right now. In my head, the future version of myself is everything I want to be. She’s spontaneous, confident and generous. She’s a person who is radiant and lives a life that others are envious of. It’s so much easier for me to create the ideal version of myself in my head instead of becoming her now. I want to be a more generous person, so I’ve decided that the future version of myself will spend more time with my family because I’m ‘too busy for that now’. I’ve created a habit of stressing about college applications and planning out the next 20 years of my life before I’ve even finished my junior year, so I’ve decided that the future version of me will be confident in all of her decisions and will never doubt herself. I want to be spontaneous, so the future version of myself spends wild weekends with friends and makes everyday an adventure. There is no reason I can’t be any of those things right now. The only thing that stops me is the fear that I’ll never achieve them, so instead I just don’t even try. I just make them the problems and goals of my future self. Living in the present can be hard, and I think it’s because people (myself included) spend so much time nit picking every little imperfection about themselves and their lives. We are never satisfied with what we have at the moment. We look at our own lives and see the imperfections far more clearly than we do the beauty. We look at the people around us and the blessings they have and decide that our present lives aren’t satisfactory enough. We decide that the only solution is to gain it in the future. I’m so unbelievably guilty of this. One of my favorite songs right now is “Good Days” by SZA, and a verse I love is, “Half of us chasin’ fountains of youth and it’s in the present.” My inability to see how beautiful my life is doesn’t change the fact that it ​is ​beautiful. My present life is something my past self longed for and I’m robbing her of it by not appreciating what I have. We all have the power to make our lives everything we want them to be. We have to stop telling ourselves we don’t deserve the things we want, and realize that the only obstacle that will ever truly have the power to stop us is our own fear, doubt and ungratefulness. We have the power to be who and what we want, and it starts by recognizing everything we have here and now.