Darren let out a deep, worried sigh. “Fuck.” Joyce sat patiently picking at her hash browns as he took in the news. An uncomfortable silence lingered, before Darren offered his hesitant thoughts. “Okay. Okay, well, fine. We’ll be fine. I’m doing good at work; we can move to the suburbs, somewhere where the schools are good. You might need to quit your job, but I can take care of us. I’m sure my parents would—"
As of late I've noticed my peers making decisions to improve their lives, from moving up in their careers, to graduating, or moving to graduate school. It's encouraging seeing my friends and colleagues take these steps forward. The improvements I've seen haven't just been professional though. Perhaps more importantly I've heard from, and seen, friends making improvements to their relationships and personal lives. These are the improvements I admire the most. Taking the necessary steps to improve our relationships is hard. Personally, my partner and I had one of these uncomfortable talks, and came to a conclusion that we both happily agree is an improvement: the decision to live together.
What nobody tells you about relationships is that sometimes you begin to realize your mistakes way too late. You look back and what seemed harmless, or even something that you didn’t think to consider, you realize was harmful behavior. The tricky thing about self improvement is that you’re never done. You don’t recognize what you’re doing as wrong in the moment because we live in a series of moments. Growth and change allow us to peel back the layers of ourselves and reflect on the choices we make, the reasons we make them, and our effect on others.
We want to be liked. We want to be admired. We want people to think highly of us. We want to be more attractive, have more money, more friends, more likes. We want to be wanted. We crave validation more than we realize. Because of this, we find ourselves stuck in this loop of comparing strangers' curated little moments, glimpses of their lives. with the entirety of our own. But that isn’t fair. Our lives are messy, ugly, imperfect. Full of misfires, wasted opportunities, overreactions, and things we wish we could do over. But these glimpses into other people’s lives, these snapshots of our most well-lit cinematic moments, are what we tell the world we are.
Adam crossed the street to walk in the sun so he could avoid the bitter afternoon chill. He bundled into his jacket and reluctantly picked up the pace, eager to escape the cold but dreading the destination. He was still wrestling with himself about whether or not it was worth turning around and walking all the way home, but Lana wanted him to attend the meetings and given that she was the only thing standing between him and sleeping on the sidewalk, there was a certain obligation to make the effort. Still, he wasn't a fan of the meetings. They made him sad. It seemed ironic considering why he was there. He had gone once a week for the last five weeks. Spent eight weeks sober, and ten weeks on Lana's couch. And while he thought about the pills daily, he wouldn't give his mother the satisfaction. Or give Lana the heartache.