I saw this quote on Facebook a few days ago and realized that it might be the most accurate thing that I have ever seen on that platform. I wish I knew who to attribute it to, because they have somehow managed to elucidate the shortcomings of human experience in under twenty words.
Think of the times when you were the saddest, most disappointed, the angriest. Whether it’s with a person, a place, an experience, chances are that they failed to meet expectations that you had placed. Whether reasonable or not, you wanted things to be better than they were. Needed things to be better.
Think of your biggest mistakes, the regrets that you hold, the things that you took for granted. How many of these decisions were made out of a desire to find something better, a feeling of standards not being met, the chasing of something closer to the picture that you had formed in your head? Dissatisfaction leading to a search for greener pastures that aren’t there.
Sometimes they are. Sometimes we need to be able to identify the status quo as unacceptable. To dream higher, expect more, fight for what we deserve.
Isn’t this what we try to teach our kids? To always want better, to never give up until they achieve everything that they can, to be all that they can be and never settle? I’ll confess to have never read a parenting book, but I’m pretty sure that none of them have a chapter about embracing mediocrity.
That’s what we tell them, but is this a disservice? One of the biggest complaints old men such as myself seem to have with the current generation of young whippersnappers is their sense of entitlement, their expectation of not only “having it all” but of having it handed to them. How many of our children are currently heading out into the world, looking around and asking “what the hell is this shit?”
I don’t want my girls to settle, but I also want them to have reasonable expectations. To strive for the top but also be able to find happiness somewhere beneath the summit if that’s where their journey ends. I want them to be successful, but to measure that by the things that they have. Contentment to come not from the picture in their heads but by the one in front of them.
Its a picture that all too often we end up looking back at longingly, only afterwards realizing how beautiful it really was.