WE HAVE ALL BEEN through it at some point of our lives – where we look at someone else’s life and wonder what makes them happier than us? Or… how come they get to live a life of their dreams and we’re still stuck here in an endless rut, just dreaming of the life we want but can’t seem to have.
The Dreamy 20s
If you’ve been following my little ditties before this, you’d know by now that I wasn’t as fiery or feisty as I would like to brag about. Having said that though, I had exceptionally big dreams! I was going to be rich and famous. How, I knew not, but dream away I did. The burning need during that era was to prove to everyone around me that I was more than what I seemed.
In reality, I was a young mum who was nowhere near self-sufficient and had to live a life that was placed in front of me on someone else’s terms. I woke up every morning, played out my given role of a contented housewife all day and went to sleep at nights dreaming of what seemed to be unlikely change of events in my future.
My 20’s saw big changes in my life, for by the time I was 23, I was a mother of three! It did look at some point that my hopes, fantasies and dreams are to remain dreams for all eternity. Or at least, for a long, long, time to come…
Reality Seeps In
For the first half of my 30s, I spent a good deal of my life fighting for lost rights, so to speak, and trying to keep my sanity intact in a bad household. There literally was no time to fantasize as my days and nights centred 100% around my (now four!) kids and I was getting nowhere in a draining relationship with my other half.
I became a single mum at 36 and marched on with brood in tow to what we would refer to as ‘a better life’. The thing I didn’t realise at the time was, life was not a competition. It’s hard to be happy when everywhere you look, everyone’s life seemed to be better than yours! Their families seemed intact, they seemed to have jobs they love, they have romance, money, lots of free time to spare while I seemed to be spending my days and nights worrying about expenses, my kids’ health, their education, their future, my future…
Amidst that, I had friends who, despite their seemingly fortunate situations in life, were discontented with themselves. They complained about their in-laws while I didn’t have any; they lamented about their hubbies not noticing their new outfit while I didn’t have to dress up for anyone; they didn’t like the present they got for Valentine’s Day while I never had a V-Day present in my life… well, you get the picture.
So by the end of my 30s, I really began to wonder… what the heck was happiness made of anyway? It can’t be a coincidence that almost everyone I had ever met was to some extent, discontented with their lives, even the ones who seemed to have everything. So, like really, what on earth would it take to be truly happy?
In the end though, it didn’t matter what I was going through, good or bad, for time passed and days turned to weeks, months and years… Kids grew up, got jobs, took up responsibilities, helped with the bills. Yes… while I was busy looking around for stuff to be unhappy about, my life just went on. It did not halt while I sorted out my issues. It did not pause so I could decide where to go and what to do.
You Only Live Once
It’s really ironic that every drama I ever went through or created in my life during my younger days seems redundant now. If only I had the wisdom to look ahead say 10 years from then, I would have relaxed my ways for not one of my outrageous pursuits seem significant now.
If I were to have pots of money now, I’d still relish the simpler things in life, for it seems that those are the things that true happiness are made of. I don’t see myself, after all that pursuing of so-called ‘happiness’, dressing to the nines or dining at high end restaurants or partying till dawn. Too troublesome lah!
So, hello there mid 40s! Now, isn’t it just dandy that the older I get, the more simplified things seem to be? A night about town? I’d rather an evening stroll by the seaside watching the sun go down either with my man or with family. I’d also really enjoy a simple home-cooked meal with family and friends or even a visit to an animal shelter to see if I can make a little bit of difference in the lives of those poor furry creatures!
Most importantly, I’d rather be in the company of people I love than go through all sorts of extremes to impress people I don’t honestly care about.
It really is that simple. Life needs to be simplified to be lived well. Wish I knew that 20 years ago.
Cindy Antoinette is a seasoned writer and former editor of BabyTalk Malaysia. She has been active in the writing and publishing scene since the early 90’s and has a passion for all things bright and beautiful in life. She is mother to four children who are between 16 to 24 years of age and insists that motherhood is a lifetime journey of emotions, joy and lessons learned!