• Lauren Ashley

Seasons of Life


photo: Carl Black

Hey everyone, welcome back to the blog!


Today, I wanted to talk about our seasons. As in, the period of life we're in. Life is an ever changing cycle, just like the four seasons. There are the basic seasons most of us experience; single life, marriage and starting a family. And there are other complicated seasons we go through: moving, tackling debt, health issues, the loss of family or friends. Some seasons are better than others. Life is funny where it changes when we don’t want it to, and other times we feel stuck in a period that feels like it won't end.


One of the lessons I felt was the hardest to accept growing up was that life won’t always go the way we want. It’s unrealistic to expect things to go your way all the time. When I was younger, I had a very linear mindset. If you’re a good person, good things will come to you. Now imagine how crushed I was when life decided to teach me that lesson. That’s when I learned about the weird balance we never see or understand working in the background. Life is what it is and we just have to roll with the punches.


Even though I knew this, I didn’t build the resilience we need to get through rough times. I was extremely unhappy with my life. From the outside looking in, everything seemed fine. This girl had a degree, wasn’t weighed down by any attachments, had a home and a job. But in my eyes it wasn’t enough. Little things I loved became bothersome. I didn’t want to use that degree. I hated my job. I didn’t have a plan. I was stressing myself out because I convinced myself I wasted my time and money, and I felt I wasn’t good enough. I was hard on myself for not figuring out my life sooner.


Even if all those things were true at the time, I was looking at my situation in the wrong way. Yes I needed to get my life together, but it was my mindset that really needed work. I had such a negative perspective about me and where I thought I needed to be that it was making me depressed and sad. The negativity made it hard to appreciate those little things I was complaining about.


I believe we can become so wrapped up in our goals and what we want for ourselves that we forget to appreciate everything that we have right now. If you’re feeling like what you have now isn’t enough, most likely you aren’t expressing enough gratitude to yourself and to others around you.


One thing I think we should all remember is life is so fickle and it can change at any moment. And if you’re focused on next, next, next, you won’t be able to enjoy the beautiful things you’ve already been blessed with.


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Don’t wait to be happy.


Adopt this mindset into your life. You don’t have to wait for certain circumstances to fall into place to be happy. That’s cheating yourself out positive experiences you could have now. Time stops for no one. Imagine the time spent choosing to be unhappy (because it's a choice) until you get where or what you want. That could be days, months, years or never. Nothing is promised and all the time purposefully being unhappy would be a waste if anything you wanted never came true. Being happy is a choice, and a mindset you continuously have to work on. It’s not something that comes with possessions or when you feel you’re finally successful. To be happy, you need to shift to a positive perspective and focus on what’s going right.


Consistently focusing on what’s going wrong is depressing. It’s difficult to appreciate everything you’ve accomplished when you only belittle yourself for what you’ve done wrong. There was a time I thought if I stayed on top of my mistakes, I would learn to not make the same ones. At the same time I was so hard on myself that I was never happy. It was really hard to love myself because in my eyes, I was never doing enough. And during the days where everything was peaceful, I was sabotaging myself into bad feelings.


You know that saying, look for the silver lining? I challenge you to purposely look for joy in places you normally wouldn’t. That might be after a hard day at work, a fight with someone close to you or any moment where you just aren’t your best. It’s harder than it sounds. Attempting to find something positive in every situation can feel silly. How can you be happy when you’re hurt or upset? You want to wallow because it feels like the normal reaction when things just aren’t going right - which is the point of this exercise. Finding even one positive aspect in a situation won’t only boost your mood, but aid in changing your perspective.


Enjoy the good times now, because you don’t know when it’s going to end. We have a bad habit of taking time for granted. And when things are bad, remember whatever you’re going through is temporary and you can come out of it. Nursing your mind into a positive place can do wonders for how you view life and the way you bounce back from hard situations. Your response to life’s circumstances will change. There was a time when I used to be angry about everything going wrong. I haven’t mastered this myself, but I’m learning to control my emotions and seek out a positive, relaxing activity to guide me away from those negative feelings. The time we spend being sad or upset doesn’t change the situation.


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Focus on your blessings.


I’ve noticed a lot of the times we’re unhappy is because we’ve lost sight of what’s right in front of us. In this age of social media and embellishing our lives, it’s become hard not to compare. You will always see someone with a ‘better’ car, a ‘better’ home and a ‘better’ vacation. It’s as if they’re living at the top tier of their lives so carelessly and good fortune comes to them so easily. If you’re scrolling mindlessly on your apps, comparing your life to strangers everyday, of course you aren’t going to be happy! Who can be when you’re torturing yourself?


Comparison is the thief of joy. It’s possible to have healthy mentors and people you aspire to be like. But there’s a fine line between that and wishing you had another person’s life. That’s not healthy, and it’s not fair to yourself. We’re all born with different circumstances. That doesn’t make their circumstances better or worse than yours. It’s just different. And that’s okay. We’re all meant to be different; if we were all the same life would be boring, no?


My best advice is stop the mindless scrolling. Stop giving people who you’re more than likely never going to meet so much attention. Instead, direct that attention back into your own life. Remember when we were kids and the most external influences we were exposed to was right in our own communities? We lived with similar people, who had similar homes and lifestyles. We saw normal people and families before having flashy material things and plastic surgery was trendy. We were happy with what we had.


I also want to point out that we never know what’s happening behind closed doors. Even our closest family members and friends have secrets they never want to come out. So can you imagine these amazing, well off people you idolize over social media posting content that could take away from that image? Social media is a separate life. People want you to think they’re just fine. In some cases they may even feel their online life is a getaway from what’s going on in their world!


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Accept your season.


At the end of the day, it’s impossible to control life. It’s depressing to constantly criticize yourself because you aren’t where you want to be. What people think about you, what events happen - none of that is within our control! But one thing we can control is how we handle what life throws at us. Life is more about how you handle it rather than the situation itself.


Figure out what season you're in and come up with a plan to make the most of it. Make this time work for you. Keeping your calendar full of things you enjoy can help with feeling stagnant. If you're single, appreciate how much free time you have compared to others who are married and/or are parents. Work on your goals, health and hobbies you're interested in. If you're married, work on fulfilling the life you've created with your partner. If you have children, work on family bonding and building their skills. This is my single season, and I'm taking the time to go back to school, build my career and enjoying life without too many responsibilities. I'm having fun and growing as a person.


There will be a time where you’re feeling your best and everything is going right. You’re in your season and it’s nothing but success. There will also be a time period where life isn't great at all. It's during this time you really have to show gratitude and love for everything and everyone around you. Don’t be so far up on cloud nine that when things come crashing down, it ruins you.


There's always a reason for things, but sometimes life is just terrible. And that's okay. What matter's is how we get through the rough times. But I do believe we can find a way to enjoy any stage of life we’re in. Enjoy every moment of it. You never know how long the peace will last.


xo LO

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