On Being Content

When I look around, everyone seems to be so ambitious. Whether it’s people I barely know, or my closest friends, everyone seems to be striving toward something: To lose a few pounds, to graduate magna cum laude, to find the dream job, to gain more Instagram followers, to find the love with that everlasting spark.

Being surrounded by all these ambitious friends and acquaintances (aka people I stalk online) can be exhausting. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s in no way a bad thing to work toward something, to have certain goals.

But sometimes I feel like this ongoing ambition contest also leads to never being satisfied with the current state.

Julika in Vienna, Austria Aren’t summer days, and flowers, and a solo trip to Vienna enough to be content?

When I imagine my grandparents’ generation, I’m convinced that it was a really good thing to just be content back then. A steady income (to provide food for the family), a comfortable home, a solid yet uneventful relationship, a car and maybe a beach vacation each summer. This is definitely is what my grandma would consider a good life with no reasons to complain. It would have been enough for her, more than enough even.

However, if I asked someone my age about how they are feeling, and their answer was “I’m content”, I’d be really confused.

The usage of the word “content” would imply that this person doesn’t want to change a thing about their life. And that’s strange, right? Why wouldn’t you want to change something? There is so much to be improved, isn’t there? This can’t be “it” just yet?

Julika at Plitvice Lakes, Croatia Is experiencing spectacular Croatia views once in a life-time enough to be content?

But when did being content become a bad thing? Or a not-good-enough thing? Isn’t it enough to be satisfied with what you got and not constantly work toward a better tomorrow?

When I look at myself, I really don’t know why I never say that I’m content — but apparently, I prefer to point out what’s missing instead:

Why can’t I say “I’m content with being 20 pounds overweight, but healthy”? Why do I have to insist on wanting to change something about my looks all the time?

Why can’t I say “I’m content with my apartment, because it’s a cozy home?” Why do I have to complain about my furniture not matching and the lack of super creative DIY storage solutions?

Why can’t I say “I’m content with my job: I have flexible hours, and I’m totally interested in the field I’m working in”? Why do I have to still figure out if this is my true calling and ponder whether I was maybe destined to do something else?

Why can’t I say “I’m absolutely content to be happy in my relationship and there’s nothing I want to change, because we’re perfectly normal”? Why do I have make a drama out of socks on the floor and nostalgically reminisce about those days when everything was still new and exciting?

Why can’t I say “I’m content with traveling several times a year”? Why does every Facebook update from a traveling friend makes me feel like someone punched me in the stomach?

Why can’t I say “I’m content with being inspired by all the creative people online”? Why do I have to feel bad that I can’t braid my hair like that, that I can’t make my food look this nice, that I don’t have a fashion blogger wardrobe?

Julika in Berlin, Germany Aren’t regular trips to Berlin enough to be content?

I’ve recently understood that it is socially more acceptable to talk about the things you want and need to achieve in the future than to simply admit that you’re content. But are ambitions and long-term goals really more important than being content in the present?

I didn’t really come up with any New Year’s resolutions this year, but maybe “being content with being content” should have been one. Because sometimes I feel like I’m sabotaging myself with always striving, always complaining, always not being “there yet”. Maybe I should stop comparing myself to the photoshopped version of seemingly flawless lives online and just get used to admitting that I’m content with what my life is like right now.

 

Are you content?