I'm Mary Catherine, and I suffer from an illness that I have invented, but believe is a real thing.
(Hi, Mary Catherine.)
It is called Kodak Moment Syndrome - KMS for short. And I already lied, because I didn't invent it. Jordan named it, but it's been going on for many moons. I have a feeling some of you readers are also suffering.
Lemme explain it fuh ya:
KMS occurs when you are so fixated on the version of your life that you envisioned in your head - the pretty, Hallmark-y, perfectly lit version - that you miss the fact that what's happening around you is important, precious, and fleeting. In its worst form, KMS can lead you to dismiss - even damn - your reality because it's not what you expected it to look like. Common symptoms of KMS include: social anxiety, entitlement, inability to be present in daily situations, daydreaming, and general unhappiness.
It can exist in big ways and in small ways. For example, maybe you think back on a significant moment in your life and think, "That was a let-down." In its more common form, KMS sneaks up on us during our daily work and living. We wish our lives looked different, and we resent that they aren't what we thought they'd be.
KMS is very easy to develop in your twenties. It triggers everyone in different ways: for some, it's seeing peers whose careers have taken off; for others, it's visiting friends whose houses are perfectly curated down to the last knick knack. And you might be thinking, "That's envy - that's not KMS." If it's a momentary jealousy, you're right. But if it lingers - if it causes you to arrive back at your home, look around, and become terribly bitter at your imperfect house - to think, "How could I possibly make sweet memories in this place??" - then I'm afraid KMS is causing your reality to be disappointing to you in a way that's changing how happy you are in your everyday life.
Battling KMS can be challenging, but you aren't alone. There are easy steps you can follow.
The first way to battle Kodak Moment Syndrome is to TALK ABOUT IT. KMS thrives in solitude. It grows best when it goes undiscussed - exposure, much like light to film, causes it to fade away. You are great at telling yourself that you aren't good enough, smart enough, thin enough, good looking enough, or successful enough. But I'm willing to bet that the folks around you are great at telling you otherwise; in other words, they're great at telling you the truth.
The second way to fight back against the nastiness that is KMS is to reverse the cycle. When you arrive home after seeing that friend's gorgeous home and start to think, "This house is a disaster and I'm embarrassed of myself," stop right there. There are things to be grateful for that you are totally missing like: YOU HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE. I know, all-caps is aggressive, but Y'ALL! Seriously!! If you're having car trouble: "I'm so thankful I have a car at all." If you are slogging around at the grocery store not wanting to complete the day's shopping: "The ability to buy food for my family is such a luxury." Your kids' toys all over the floor, food dried on plates in the sink, a crappy car in the driveway, but a happy marriage? Win. Going to a job you don't like every day, but you have your health and the ability to look for something else? Win. Etc.
Find the joy. It is ALWAYS, always, always, always there. It may not be apparent, but it's there.
(Don't confuse this with "Something horrific has happened to me and Mary Catherine is telling me to get over and find the joy." That is not what I'm saying at all. You wallow around in that as long as you feel like it. I'm talkin' about the mundane, everyday ways we let our expectations of reality diminish the sweetness of messy, actual reality.)
The truth is that KMS comes from thinking about how other people are going to perceive your life, and whether it measures up to expectations that, more often than not, we didn't actually come up with ourselves. We follow this roadmap into what other people might think all the way off a cliff, because we'd rather use that yardstick to measure our lives than to look around and pay attention to the jewels in the mud all around us.
Side effects of conquering KMS include: presence, gratefulness, a lower threshold for happiness, spontaneous laughter, a charitable heart, a rise in energy level, generosity, and an others-first paradigm.
Y'all? We have to quit wasting our lives being pouty because they aren't how we thought they'd look. Nothing is ever exactly what we thought it was going to look like. We have to get over it and start violently fighting to hang onto the magic that is BEING ALIVE. Jordan and I have a phrase we say to each other. "Acute dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition; chronic dissatisfaction is a symptom of ungratefulness." We always try to keep in mind that if one of us gets bluesy about something for too long, it's not ambition - it's brattiness. I'm grateful to have someone to keep me in check, and I know he is, too.
You may not have the job you thought you would, or look the way you thought you would, or make the check you thought you would. Fine. It's okay to go for those things. Be ambitious. Be unsatisfied. But don't let expectation and comparison steal your joy on the way to whatever it is you want to be. There's so much life between now and then, and...what was that philosopher's famous quote?