Something in me snapped a little today. I was talking to a friend about Columbia and how I never thought I’d settle here, and then I stopped and thought back to a long-ago day at Taylor that I spent sitting on my computer Googling everything I could about this city and determining that I was going to like it.
And then I got here. And I didn’t mind it. But everyone around me did. I’m not sure what awful crime Columbia committed along the road to development, but to listen all the hipster 20-somethings who reside here, you’d think they just moved from Paris and not Podunkville, South Carolina, or Neverheardofit, North Carolina, or Nowheresville, Georgia, which is often the case.
I think what happens is this: these young’uns come from a place where they were known, appreciated, and comfortable, where they had a home base. When they arrive in this new place, it doesn’t feel like home, they don’t have the resources they used to have, and they aren’t happy. And since it surely couldn’t be a gratitude problem causing their unhappiness, they look around, find a convenient culprit in the city–and so beings The Great 21st Century Bashing of Columbia, SC. Instead of finding ways to make fun and build community with what they’ve been given, they sit around and complain ad nauseum about how much they hate Columbia, though they can’t really give a tangible reason for it. I think it comes down to the simple message of “I’m not happy.” And since we all know that it is both healthy and wise to expect to derive happiness and contentment from our circumstances, Columbia is certainly the culprit.
C’mon people, this is no way to live; demanding that your surroundings make you content is a recipe for emotional turmoil. Instead, try taking your happiness into your own hands. Rather than complaining that you don’t have friends in Columbia, call up an acquaintance and invite them to coffee at Jamestown, or go to the all-local farmer’s market and actually talk to the people who live in this community. Join a book club. Visit the zoo, or, if zoos aren’t your thing, go to the gardens instead. Be like my awesome friend Kristi and play in an Ultimate League. Try to eat at every single local restaurant in Columbia and write a book about it. Volunteer for a cause that you love. Rejoice that you have a chance to go to school/be employed/play video games/breath/whatever it is you do in this imperfect place. If you can’t even try, then for your sake, please leave Columbia in search of happiness elsewhere. But I’ll warn you: I’ve moved around quite a bit, and I have never lived in a place where people didn’t find something to complain about.
I dare you, for six months, to make an effort to love the good things in your life, change the less-than-ideal things, and chill out about the things that aren’t in your power to change. Take the Serenity Prayer from that plaque on your wall and actually live the darn thing. I can almost guarantee that you’ll be happier.
PS: I know I may come off as pompous here, and I apologize. As a recovering ingrate, I know what an awful and addictive slave-master ingratitude can be. I’m now learning how freeing it is to use intentionality and gratitude to break free and achieve joy, and this message weighs heavily on me. Don’t let bitterness and ingratitude suck you dry of life and joy.