I’ve been home for several weeks, and one thing that’s really struck me this go-around abroad is the eerily simple realization that the grass is never really greener on the other side- it’s just different grass. She has a garden full of dandelions… must buy myself dandelions? turns into Why didn’t anyone tell me dandelions were weeds? I’m so embarrassed! What am I supposed to do with this order of 450 dandelions!? Get these out of my garden!
I’ve met a lot of people who dislike Americans, but I’ve also met quite a few people who tell me I’m lucky to have my American passport. And I know there’s a lot of good in the States, but there’s also some negative aspects of our culture. Likewise, there are certain parts of Irish culture that I absolutely love, but several aspects that I’m glad to have a break from. The human experience is fascinating because each person that passes us has their own baggage, hobbies, and personality traits. Collectively, these little humans are all participants in their society’s culture. Taking what the travel community calls a “postcard trip,” i.e. a multi-destination trip that checks off the major sights and foods quickly before moving on to the next place may be really fun, but it doesn’t quite sum up the true culture of a place that one may learn once they take a longer time to explore the land. Because once you settle somewhere, you realize that nowhere is perfect. You’ll always find a brown patch of dead grass in the corner, cleverly disguised behind the most artificially dyed grass in the lot. The grass on the other side is initially alluring, but it’s never greener, just different.
So what does this mean? Why are you trying to disguise yourself as a psychologist? Why are you talking about grass, and why do you think I care?
Well, I’m glad you asked, and also it’s rude to ask me why I think you care. Dang. I digress… I’ve seen plenty of people move clear across the country because they assume the grass will be greener on the other side. But you know what? When you’re laying in the tub at the end of a long day, or when you’re alone in your commute to work, are you happy with your life? Holy mackerel, I’ve had so many moments when I’m alone and I absolutely cringe thinking about some of the mistakes I’ve made in life. From the times I’ve been a bad friend, to all the stupid times I fried my hair in 6th grade attempting to tame my wavy mane, I’ve consistently messed up in my life. But that’s the great thing about the human experience- we aren’t our mistakes. Dwelling on them any more than to learn our lesson doesn’t make life any easier, nor does it make much sense to dedicate space in our brain to playing them like a broken record. I say all this to say that if you’re unhappy, moving to a new place won’t fix anything. The grass won’t be greener on the other side- it’ll just be different, but you’ll be the same and you’ll eventually realize that the problem isn’t with your surroundings, the problem is that you’re avoiding some self-reflection. You have to constantly work on yourself. The only woman born perfect was Tina Fey, and I’m sure even she has days when she wakes up feeling kind of fat and not that funny. Hey, it happens.
So… own your plot of grass. Nurture the garden. Plant dandelions if you think they’re beautiful, and ignore the haters who insist they’re just ugly weeds. Gosh darn it, establish your dreams and follow your heart. Don’t obsess on anyone else’s garden, even if it appears greener. You have your own garden to focus on! And for crying out loud, remember that you can grow a lovely new start from where dirt used to be. You can’t run from your mistakes or problems, but you can develop your inner strength to make today a new day. Growth is continuous. When I get asked, at the ripe old and mature age of 22, Monique, where do you see yourself in five years? I want to answer: still happy, and still learning. Because I honestly don’t know where I will be this time next year, let alone in five years. The opportunities we have are endless (yes, really!). It’s never too late for a fresh start. I want to learn every single day. Whether this is patience or learning how to till freaking corn for my garden. What’s your garden like? Award-worthy? Neglected? Well, it’s yours! Own it. Be proud of it. It’s the only one you get, so make it count. *drops mic*