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Are You Waiting to Live?

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • “I’m waiting for things to die down at work to start my side hustle”
  • “We’ll travel to the Azores when we retire”
  • “I’m going to start dating after I lose these 19lbs”
  • “I’ll start networking for a new job when I have a little more experience”
  • “I only use those dishes/ wear this underwear for special occasions”
  • “We’ll start going to concerts and stuff again when I’m through this merger at work”
  • “When we go on vacation we’ll read the paper over coffee together in bed in the morning, but not while we’re at home because that would be crazy”
  • “Once I get fit I’m going to start wearing shorts again”
  • “I plan to start writing when the kids are out of the house at college”
  • “After I get the promotion I’ll register for those evening classes”
  • “We’ll crack open the good wine for special nights”

Destination addiction is a thing, and it has nothing to do about being obsessed with the idea of spending three months in a Tuscan villa (not that I know what that would be like). (But I do, in exquisite detail! I’ll tell you about it over drinks one day.)

Destination addiction is the belief that our happiness is waiting for us somewhere else, at some other time — but definitely not right here and certainly not right now. We can be moderately happy now, sure, but our Ideal Life Fantasy is often contingent on something else happening first. Our real lives are out there after we’ve accomplished “x” or snagged “y” job or fit into “z” size of jeans. We’re addicted to the version of ourselves we can’t quite see or touch today, and we set up elaborate schemes to explain to ourselves why we can’t be that person now.

Why do we put our lives on hold?

We all have our unique brands of neurosis, so your reason for putting your life satisfaction on a layaway plan is unique to you. Your reasons are different from mine which are different from the guy who’s waiting for his pecs to show through his shirt to feel confident, etc., etc.

  • For some of us we’re scared of the thing we really want so we barricade it from actually happening. Cue every frustrated entrepreneur who can’t find time for liftoff; fear of failure and rejection are palpable and paralyzing and this girl knows a thing or two about that deadly fear combo. We wistfully say, “someday I’ll (insert plans here)” and then avoid the thing we want, because it’s 850 times easier to play not to lose than to play to win. Many a dream is buried in the graveyard of “Someday I’ll…”. I have several plots there. What dreams are you punting because you’re secretly scared to achieve them?
  • Some of us are stuck in rigid belief systems. We might think work comes first (by a country mile) and so the other parts of our lives take a distant 2nd, 3rd, and so on. We think we don’t deserve to date because of all that muffin top going on. We believe we need to be fully attentive parents who can’t pursue our own hobbies or endeavors until Timmy and Jimmy are away at college. We believe the corporate ladder is linear (or that it’s still a ladder out there at all) and we can’t jump careers without starting at the bottom all over again. What beliefs are you succumbing to that might need a little reframing? (Re: the ladder… they say it’s a jungle gym out there now, but let’s not get distracted with all that.)
  • Most of us take life for granted. We defer happiness until later because we think later is a guaranteed event in time. Surprise! You could die next weekend, and where did your plans to visit the Azores go? RIGHT THERE IN THE CASKET WITH YOU, CONNIE. You thought you could start your Etsy store later? MAYBE YOU WON’T BE ALIVE TO MAKE YOUR GEM-ENCRUSTED BROOCHES, GINA. I know, I know: I get all hyperbolic (and a little hostile sounding) and automatically reach for death. So let’s play this game with a lighter touch, shall we? You wanted to write that WWII rom-com? Your genetic predisposition for rheumatoid arthritis might flare up and get in the way of penning your Pulitzer. You wanted to wait to get fit to wear shorts? (Oh jeez, I’m with you on this one. Let’s lay low.) Where might you be deferring your happiness — in such a way that you’d sorely regret it from beyond the grave?

Henry David Thoreau wisely said, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

Wait, what? There is no other land? There is no other life but this? What about that land we keep peering at through our binoculars on clear days — that island where we’re going to be more successful and educated and fulfilled and loved, with way better abs? Some of us have been living warm-up lives, lives in-training with a distant, hazy view to Happiness Island where the best years of our lives will purportedly play out.

That’s a bunch of bullshit.

Don’t wait.

Use the good dishes tonight.

Don’t wait.

Start a simple website for your own business and experience the rush of feeling alive/ nauseous when you tell your family and friends about it.

Don’t wait.

Set up an online dating profile regardless of how many pounds of you there are to love.

Don’t wait.

Have breakfast and coffee in bed, even when you’re not on vacation.

Don’t wait.

Go do that sushi-rolling class, even if you are swamped at work. The work will always be there waiting.

Don’t wait.

Register for the class, before you miss another semester of enlightenment.

Don’t wait.

Start chapter one this week, because you never know when your last chapter will sneak up on you.

Don’t wait.

Book a trip to a place you keep wondering about, even if you have to delay it with Covid. At least you’ll have the ticket to defer rather than a dream of what the air smells like in the Azores to be buried with.

Don’t wait.

Open the good wine on a random Tuesday in August because you’re just so fucking pleased to be alive.

Don’t wait.

What are you waiting for? Go do it — before illness, inertia, injury, apathy, or getting hit by a bus gets in your way. Don’t wait.

Jodi Wellman

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