The Grass is Greener

When it comes to this generation, I’m convinced that many of us perpetually operate under the “grass is greener on the other side” mentality. Given the accessibility to so many things these days like dating apps or the normalcy of switching jobs every few years, it’s easy to always think that life could be better if we were doing something else, dating someone else, living somewhere else, etc. Social media has certainly worsened this effect in my opinion, offering curated perfect versions of peoples’ lives, constantly making us feel left out or questioning our own happiness in comparison to our peers’.

Gone are the days when our grandparents and maybe some of our parents started a job and stayed there for 30 years. Back then, the goal seemed pretty straight-forward — get a job to support your family and put food on the table. I doubt there was much thought about if they were happy or wanted to do something else. They were just doing what generations before them had done. Nowadays, people can triple major, intern and network to try to figure out what they want to do, or go back to school at any point once they change their minds.

Unfortunately, my parents were the most supportive follow your dreams kind of people — totally joking, they are the best and I would not have wanted any different kind of upbringing. However, much like comedians and musicians often write their best material from suppressed childhoods of teen angst, this environment can give you an overwhelming number of possibilities. I mean COME ON Mom and Dad, you even let Katie (my slightly tone deaf sister) entertain the thought that she would be on broadway… (love you Kate).

I’m not saying that this is a bad thing by any means. It’s amazing for those who are fortunate enough to be able to decide what they want to do or have the opportunity to find what they love.

However, to open your opportunities up to the world can be overwhelming with the sheer amount of options, and the second we’re unhappy or have any doubts, it’s easy to think an alternative would be better.

The first few years of any career can be filled with long hours and less pleasant grunt work that we may dislike. Rather than sticking it out for a few years until we have more autonomy over our work, we may seek a new career path where we think “This will be better!” But then, we may need to make a lateral move or take a step down, thus potentially beginning a new grunt work position, which we may come to equally despise in a short amount of time.

This “grass is greener” mentality on life, or even “there’s other fish in the sea” mentality specific to dating can be pretty dangerous. I certainly don’t promote staying in a relationship or job if you are unhappy — I myself made a lateral move to seek a new opportunity after my first job. However, I think our generation has a low tolerance for satisfaction. I fear with this mindset, we will never truly be satisfied if we always think a better opportunity lies one click or swipe away. Not every day can be perfect. Much like seasons in Chicago, we truly appreciate a 60 degree day only after we’ve endured months of winter. A few bad days here and there can humble us and make us grateful for the good in our lives.

I think contentment is partially finding the right fit or person, but it’s also a choice. By no means should we settle, but we cannot live in a world where we expect perfection or that every box will be checked on our long lists of needs and wants. We need to be selective in what we truly need and want and must compromise on the other pieces. Now, determining those needs and wants that we don’t want to comprise on is not an easy task, but that may just be the first step on the journey to finding the greenest grass right where you are.

Lauren Nopar