Last night MIkael and I attended a junior high volleyball game, which was fun (and victorious!) but also a total trip.
Most days I conveniently forget I'm 30 - 12 whole years removed from high school, and way more than that from the dingy halls of Princeton Junior High.
But when you put me on a painfully-unpadded bleacher, and plop a bunch of stinky junior high boys down besides me (seriously, guys, deodorize!) it hits me like a ton of bricks (or a waft of that BO), how incredibly long it's been since I was a girl timidly walking onto a volleyball court, nervously tugging at my shorts (thank God they weren't spandex back then!) and secretly hoping the ball went to anyone but me. (God I was a bad athlete. No wonder that career didn't pan out.)
Fast forward to this morning, when I found myself frustrated, yet again, about having nothing to wear except ill-fitting "mom jean shorts" and dark circles under my eyes.
And it reminded me how utterly convinced I was in my youth, that my life would be totally made, if I could just get my acne under control.
Every Proactiv commercial would fill my little teen heart with hope, that someday I too could have flawless skin and the perfect life that would surely accompany it.
Suddenly all the boys would like me, and all my insecurities would fade away like the potmarks that'd be obliterated by those patented MTV-pushed products.
I wouldn't be afraid to walk down the hall, or take a hit from a volleyball, if only my skin would clear up.
Surely the pimples were my only problem.
If I could just get clear skin then I'd have the energy I needed - and the confidence! - to face life head on. With a smile.
"If only I could be pimple-free, my life would be perfect," I thought, at thirteen.
What an idiot!
But really, not much has changed since then.
I still find myself worried about tiny problems on a daily (hourly!) basis.
I still find myself wasting a lot of time on the "If only..." bandwagon.
If only my pores were smaller, I would be so much happier.
If only I could fit into the shorts I wore last summer, I would be content. (Even though last summer I wanted to be two sizes smaler.)
If only I had laser hair removal, and never had to shave again (haaaallelujah!), then I'd have the time to conquer the world - or at least mess with it, like Julie Bowen.
My Pinterest board is a rotating reflection of my perpetually discontented heart.
If only my pantry looked like something out of Martha Stewart Magazine.
If only my closet was filled with fall's latest trends, instead of the perfectly fine stuff I bought last year on clearance.
If only I had actually been doing all those yoga poses I pinned months ago, and now had a toned body to show for it.
If only I had taken to heart all those wise memes I collected, instead of letting them collect proverbial dust while I kept wasting time worrying, and wondering "what if?"
It's hitting me more and more, each time my back hurts a little, or I stare a little too long in the mirror, or at my clean and well-stocked if-not-magazine-worthy pantry, that this too is gonna pass.
All this stuff I'm surrounded by, all the vanity I'm chasing... it's all gonna pass.
And like Trace Adkins so wisely tried to teach me, some day I'm gonna miss this.
Some day, I'll look back on today and think "If only I had realized what I had back then."
If I get back into a size 10 or not...
If I shrink my pores or not...
If I never have a dream closet, or year-model car, or enviably-good hair, I can still be happy.
If only I choose to be thankful, for all that I do have. Right now. Today.
Easier said than done, but what a crazy simple concept.
I don't need more of anything to be happy.
I just have to be grateful, truly content, with what I've already got.
(Why has it taken me 1,001 Pins to that very-same-effect, to still not get it?)
Did I mention I thought I was losing my precious computer twice in the last month?
Each time I said harried prayers, "God, if only you'll make this an easy fix, I promise to take better care of it. I won't open 9,000 tabs in Safari and 'forget' to run updates."
And both times I found myself breaking that promise, though God - or the Geek Squad - did in fact come to the rescue.
This last time I thought I'd killed it (which turned out to be a kink in my charger's cord) I waited and waited in line, surrounded by grey-headed seniors.
Seriously, there were three women, like ghosts from A Christmas Carol, waiting beside me in the same uncomfortable backless stools.
One in jean shorts, not unlike my own, frantically asking questions about the benefits and drawbacks of Google Chrome, making me nervous just to hear her.
One angrily talking with a young man about her warrantied parts, who ended up wheeling off in a frazzled huff.
And one woman, the oldest of the three, beside me, looking poised and patient.
She was the only one to make small talk with me as I tried not to sweat or cry about the potential loss of my laptop.
She was kind, and gracious, both with me and the poor overworked, (& pimply-faced) Best Buy employee.
And I found myself sitting there thinking, "God, if I could just grow up to be a little more like her."
She had a tiny stain on the white socks she was wearing with her sandals. But her laptop bag was stylish, and she had a lovely smile.
More importantly, she was just one of those women that exuded grace under pressure.
You know the ones?
The ladies that never seem to sweat the small stuff?
God, I want to be like that someday.
Only, I don't want to wait 'til I'm 70 to develop that sensibility.
Just like I don't want to wait 'til my laptop is dying to appreciate it, or use it wisely (stupid updates!).
I don't want to wait 'til I'm 20-years-older to appreciate the skin I'm in now.
And I don't want to wait to enjoy my life - to really live my life - 'til it's almost over.
There's something to be said for planning for what's up the road, but it doesn't do me any good to spend all my time planning, or wishing things were different now.
I've gotta be present. And I've gotta be grateful.
If I want to suck the joy out of this one life I've been given.
Maybe this is me classically overthinking things. It wouldn't be the first time or the last.
But maybe this is a wake up call, or a gentle reminder, or a cheesy cliche, that the little things really do matter. 'Cause I think they do.
And maybe gratitude for those little things - and the huge things, like being loved - plays more a part in our happiness than pristinely labeled pantry storage, or tiny pores.
I do know we won't be in junior high, or 30, forever.
So we should just enjoy this season in life, the very best we can.
And on that note, happy weekending, friends.
May your days be filled with the kind of peace and joy you can't even imagine yet.