All throughout my adolescence my frequent complaints about my life were met, either by my parents or one of many other adults, with an assurance that “You have it easy” or “When you get older life just gets harder.” In a way, I have found this statement to be true. As I have gotten older I am responsible for other people. I have to work so that my son can eat. I have to make sure that I am considering the needs of my wife instead of the needs of myself alone.
However, I have also found that my life has become progressively easier. In this sense, when I say the word “easy” I mean that my life is filled with less tension and fewer mental and emotional burdens. Let me explain…
From as young as I can remember, I was filled with anxiety. I was always concerned with what other people thought of me. I wanted my parents to think I was succeeding. I wanted people at church to think of me as a kind, moral young man. But, most of all, I wanted my friends to like me. And, unfortunately, my desire to please my parents and people at church often didn’t line up with my desire to please my friends.
I was regularly put in places where I had to let someone down so that I could be accepted by others. This meant that if I was going to do the “right thing” (what my parents wanted) I would have to let my friends down… which paralyzed me with social anxiety. If I wanted to do the “wrong thing” (what my friends wants) I would have to let me parents down… which led to me lying to them and filling myself up with the anxiety of keeping a secret.
I almost constantly felt a pit in my stomach from age 14 to 20.
Through my marriage I learned to be honest. I learned to think about other people. I learned that my actions had bearing on others. I learned that it doesn’t matter what other people think of me as long as my family is content.
These lessons helped me to shake the anxiety that sat deep in my stomach and weighed heavy on my shoulders. But these lessons could not come without the struggle and the process… of living with and caring for other people.
It is a myth of our modern, Western culture to think that we will be happier when we have less responsibility and fewer people vying for our time. It is only through the responsibility and the struggle of having people in my life that I have found how to be happy.
My life is easy.