It has never been cool to be “alright”.
As we grow up, moving into our twenties, all we hear from our friends a few years older than us is that our “twenties will be a shitshow”, and we “just have to get through it” and then we will be golden.
We are warned of the heartache and the financial woe and the depression before it even arrives. And when it shows up at our front door, we practically welcome it in saying, “Ahhhhh, I’ve been expecting you.”
So we join the masses of anxiety-driven twentysomethings just like us and think to ourselves, “well, at least we have each other.”
Because misery loves company.
So in our twenties, we find ourselves making friends with the people who are “going through it” just like we are, because they are the only people who “understand what it’s like” to be in a dark place like we are.
But what if we weren’t warned about the shitshow to come? What if we weren’t told to expect failure and heartbreak?
What would happen if we experienced the joy that comes with being single and free in our twenties without knowing that doom was lurking just around the corner?
I mean, honestly, I don’t know the answers. I’m legitimately asking you.
What if we went into our twenties blind and ignorant?
Would we still come out alive?
Most of you who read this are beyond the stage of warning. You’ve already been told what to expect and you are bracing yourself for the storm that awaits as you round each corner of your twenties – just trucking through each year until you reach the golden light at the end of the tunnel – thirty.
I was always told that thirty was it. Thirty was gonna be the change. The sigh of relief.
So I’ve been waiting for that. I’ve been crawling through the trenches of 24, 25, and 26, wiping my Pinot Grigio laced tears out of my eyes hoping to see through the dust that 27, 28, and 29 will bring, knowing that if I just keep crawling, I’ll make it to thirty and everything will be just as it’s supposed to be.
Well. Fuck. That.
I am sick and tired of being told what my life is going to look like. I am sick and tired of having this miserable picture painted for me from the generation ahead. And I am sick and tired of waiting until I am thirty to feel alright with my life.
Yea, the economy sucks. Yea, the job market sucks. Yea, student loans fucking SUCK. But do we really need to be told those things as we grow up? Couldn’t we just as easily find all that out on our own and let it do the damage to our lives that we each allow it to do, instead of having it consume our thoughts immediately after graduation knowing full well that we are “in for a rocky road” in this day and age?
What if, all of us, in our twenties, accepted that where we are right now in life, is alright?
Actually, let’s expand that statement.
What if, all of us, seriously all of us – no matter what age we are, accepted that where we are right now in life, is alright?
What if we didn’t seek out other miserable people to spend our time with?
And what if we started supporting our friends who make baby steps towards happiness and health instead of scorning them for making it out of the trenches before us?
In Hawaii, I’ve learned to use the term Pono. In simple terms, Pono is rightness and balance.
“When you are Pono, you have a feeling of contentment, wherein all is good and all is right. Pono teaches the attitude of positivity. Life itself excites you. Those who are Pono are optimistic and full of hope. All they see in their future is that things can only get better. Keep your life in balance. Do what is right.” – Managing With Aloha by Rosa Say
What if we all found the feeling of Pono in ourselves – the feeling of contentment – even amongst the world’s wars, hate, and crisis?
I think if we found the Pono in ourselves, we would encourage others to do the same. Because I’ll tell you what. When I ask myself if something is Pono – is it right – and I follow my gut, it brings me to a place of balance. I feel rooted in myself, and in my decision. And so nothing can sway me. Not even the negativity of those around me.
And so even though misery loves company, I no longer participate in the party.
Meaning one less person is contributing to the negative world, and taking a stand for the positive one.
And that feels Pono to me.
So this is what I am asking you to consider.
When your friends find something that mean something to them – even if it sounds boring to you – is it Pono for you to razz them about it?
When your best friend decides that after six years of bourbon blackouts and tequila hangovers that he wants to try sobriety for the sake of his health and his sanity, what is Pono? Teasing him, or supporting him? C’mon man, support his ass. Yea, it totally sucks that you lost a drinking buddy. But maybe it gives you an opportunity to look at your own drinking habits and check in with your own body. Maybe you could use a break, too.
When your best friend thinks she’s met the love of her life but you think he’s a total loser, what is Pono? Preaching to her or supporting her? C’mon girlfriend, cut the girl a break and support her anyway. She isn’t going to listen to your advice no matter what you say – you probably know this by now – so just humor her when she tells you the one nice thing he did for her this month. Be with her until she wakes up and smells his bullshit. And take an opportunity to observe why you hate her loser boyfriend so much. Does he remind you of someone you’ve dated who you still haven’t forgave?
See, the thing is, is that there’s always shit of our own that we can focus on working out instead of razzing our friends about their choices. It’s just easier to tease them than to look at our own shit in the mirror.
Here’s the thing.
Life does not have to be about the fear of failure. Life does not have to be about how far we have to go before we can celebrate making it to 30. Life can be about the shit that’s happening right now.
Observing the shit now, feeling the shit now, conquering the shit now, moving on from the shit now.
Just love the shit. All of it. It’s life, baby. This shit is what makes up our lives. It’s here now. So might as well love it.
In a world that teaches us to become better all the time – get a better body, grow better hair, be better in bed – it’s hard to accept that what’s happening right now might just be alright.
But beautiful girl, if you didn’t see that magazine on the street today about the five best Keratin treatments for long hair – would you have even been thinking about your four split ends?
If you didn’t see that book on your friend’s shelf today about the Best Sexual Positions for Businesswomen in a Hurry in 2013 in New York City, would you have even been wondering if your sex life is boring?
Every day, the world throws negativity at us. Telling us we are not good enough right now.
Well I say, wake up and smell the coffee that you’re brewing right now and take a good strong look in the mirror.
Find something that you fucking love about yourself in the mirror and adore it. Now. Right now.
For me, it’s my legs and my waist. I have strong legs with fierce calf muscles and I have a waist that curves in at the right spot. I have learned to love these things over the past four months after my friend Nadia told me to make time in my day for looking at them, accepting them, and believing that they are awesome.
What do you love about yourself? There is absolutely something. Come on. Don’t be shy.
Once you find it, love it. Give it some love every day. Admire it. What does that body part do for you? Do what you need to do for yourself to love the parts of you that you are fine with right now, and do not let any magazine tell you that you need to change it.
Every time you and I do something that’s Pono – that’s right with us – that’s right for us – we change the world. We become one less miserable figure in the scheme of things, even if it’s just for five minutes. And slowly, but surely, we can inspire others to do the same.
“Are you content? You may feel there is much to be done, however a feeling of contentment is possible when you feel the path ahead is one that is right for you, one where you will enjoy the journey. It may be a difficult journey, but because it’s the right one, it’s the best one, and you take it willingly, eagerly. Contentment dishes up feelings of being at peace, of being calm, stress-free, and tranquil. For the moment there is no striving.” – Rosa May, Managing With Aloha
I just want to take this moment and tell you that it’s alright, to be alright.
It’s okay to be content, even if no one around you is content too. It’s okay to feel calm, stress-free, and tranquil, even if everyone around you is going batshit over wrapping presents and baking cookies. It’s okay to like yourself. Hell, dare I say it, it’s okay to love yourself.
You guys. The world around us is always going to tell us to be better.
It’s up to us to find our contentment no matter what the magazines and Twitter feeds tell us.
And it’s really important for us to accept that being Pono, being content, is alright.
This holiday season – take some time out of everyday for yourself. It’s important that you find out what you need – because the more you take care of yourself, the less misery you bring to the party. And maybe, just maybe, once we stop waiting for thirty to come, or perfection to come, or success to come, we’ll realize that being right here, right now, in this moment, is pretty fucking awesome.
And after a while, the misery party, complete with it’s tantalizing cocktails and it’s newest diet-trend-approved hors d’oeurves, won’t even exist anymore.
“Being Pono becomes our best preparedness for the certainty of change. When people are secure in who they are, they do what they do best. They have that positive and optimistic attitude that comes from doing what they love to do in the best way possible. outside forces do not shake them up too badly. They are centered, they are balanced, and so they are resilient and strong.” – Rosa Say, Managing with Aloha
You, my bad ass friends, are resilient and strong.
Find your Pono – your feeling of contentment.
You deserve it. Honest to God, you do.