I was sitting at a high school basketball game a little over a week ago, watching my cousin lead her cheerleading squad. I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic for those four years of my life; not that I miss them terribly, because I feel a lot more comfortable and confident in being older. Yet, I've always maintained one single regret since graduation: I paid way too much attention to details.
In fact, I've learned and am continuing to learn that who/what we pay attention to, and how much attention we give to it, can tend to make or break an experience.
But those choices are not always easy to make; sometimes we become incredibly invested in a situation without truly realizing just how deep a hole has been dug. I know that on a personal level, I am very much a dreamer, a fighter, and a go-getter. I believe there are circumstances where you have to work your butt off in order to make it happen, rather than letting the opportunity simply fall into your lap. Nine times out of ten, it could very well be an uphill battle.
There's no shame in wanting the best, or for something to be the best that it possibly can be. But what happens when your dream wedding, dance/party, vacation destination, etc. leaves you sighing with relief (or defeat) once it's over?
The usual advice is to lower your expectations so that you won't be disappointed. I find that doing so doesn't always ease the stress. In fact, expecting things to go wrong can be just as bad as expecting everything to go right. When you always prepare yourself for the worst, it's as though you're trying to find something wrong with the current or approaching situation. It doesn't always protect you from disappointment, either; you might actually feel more let down because you kept telling yourself X would happen, and you were right.
Instead, take a different, and perhaps a more simple approach: be more open. More specifically, be open to various kinds of changes, from the people involved, to planning strategies and so much more. Especially when you're planning something huge, there's almost a fifty-fifty chance that something will happen out of nowhere. When it does, you can either choose to roll with it and make the best of it, or you can cause yourself more grief and frustration.
Yet that line of thinking can be excruciatingly tough to go along with. Truth be told, it's a pain in the butt for me to do, as I'm sure it is for most people at one time or another. There are times when I think to myself, "I've worked so hard and I have always tried to put others needs before my own. Darn it all, I deserve this!" Or, as sad as this sounds, I also feel my thoughts drifting toward "I want to feel important and I want to know that I matter, if only for one particular night."
Not to say that it's right or wrong, because it is healthy to acknowledge negative emotions. Once you do that, you can make room to allow positive ones to replace them. The task is whether or not you're going to allow yourself to dwell on them.
On the other side, there are situations where details are important. You want to put your best foot forward when it comes to school work and personal projects. You want to be the best person you can be in terms of a job and a career. And you want to make sure that there is an equal amount of respect and contribution in relationships.
It's about discerning what you can control, versus what you cannot.
At the end of it all, I've seen that the most perfect moments aren't ones that are intricately planned or somehow created. They just happen because I'm being present in whatever is happening, and I'm finding joy in it.
For me, I have to learn how to trust that everything will work out, somehow and in some way. I have to have faith that while I may not get all that I want, I most certainly will never lack what I need.
I've been saying this since I was eighteen, and it's one of those things that has carried me through some really stressful periods of my life, and it is now. Do what you can, and let God take care of the rest.