Is it just me or does anyone else think February is the most depressing time of the year? I’ve felt this way for many years & I think there are several logical reasons for it. By the time February rolls around winter weather has been solidly in place for a good 3-4 months, depending on the climate where you live. Even the hardiest of us get tired of the wind & cold after a while. I don’t know about y’all but the red dry skin on my face that is now actually quite painful is begging for a dose of spring warmth & sunshine ANY TIME NOW. (And I consider the winter here to be quite mild compared to what I got used to while living in the mountains during college.) Additionally winter is usually a time in which most people do not take vacations or do anything all that exciting & adventurous, unless of course you’re into winter sports like skiing & snowboarding, which I most definitely am not. Furthermore, by the time February comes around, the excitement of Christmas & New Year’s has long since passed while the advent of spring still seems much too far away. All in all, it’s a pretty bleak month. And I don’t know about those of you reading this, but I am the type who feels GUILTY for being saddened by all of this, even though I realize it’s perfectly normal to feel a little “down about life” at this time of year. Argh.
Another theme that’s been crossing my mind a lot lately is the feeling that everyone else’s life is more exciting than mine. Is it just me or does anyone else feel this way? I’m quite sure I’m not alone on this one. As much as I hate myself for doing this, I often find myself comparing my lifestyle to my friends & acquaintances, particularly those who are about the same age as me. The trouble I run into is that on the one hand the average person my age in my hometown has kids (whether married or not) & thus leads a very different lifestyle than I do. A fair amount of folks my age back home are married but plenty aren’t also. Some own houses, some don’t. On the other hand the average person my age here in a more urban environment (granted almost anything is more urban than my hometown) lives in an apartment, either with a significant other or with friends or maybe even alone; goes to bars frequently; travels as much as they can afford; & generally still leads what I think of as a more “college lifestyle.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with either lifestyle & I am not trying to pass judgment on anyone here. I’m just saying that as a 25 year-old nurse, wife, homeowner, & NON-parent I sometimes feel like I am a bit out of place in life, kind of caught between two worlds so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my station in life. I love being married to my husband, owning a home, having a dog, & working as a nurse. And I love the freedom of not having kids yet. I don’t want to go to bars every week, but I can still do that on the rare occasions I actually want to. My husband & I can go out to eat alone or with friends as often as we please with no worries about finding a baby-sitter or spending our child’s future college fund. It’s easy for me to look back on college with great fondness because I do have a ton of wonderful memories from that time, but in the golden light of nostalgia it’s easy to forget the stress that came along with that time in my life (mountains of homework, the constant stream of tests & clinicals, lack of money, etc). The freedom I have now is truly without comparison to any other point in my life. And it’s amazing.
And yet I still find myself feeling like my life is boring. It’s not that I necessarily think it’s boring; it’s just that in comparison to my peers, I feel like my life must be awfully dull. My husband travels for his job several times a year, often to exotic locations like Hawaii, & many of my friends my age take fairly frequent trips & vacations just for fun. I on the other hand have to FORCE myself to actually take a vacation & travel somewhere. It’s not that I don’t enjoy traveling. I do. It’s just that the idea of buying a plane ticket & planning out an entire trip stresses me the hell out. I know; that is so pathetic. You see why I say I feel boring? But I can’t help it. It’s just the way I am. As much as I love trips to the mountains to hike or days at the beach, at my core my favorite place to be is at home with my husband & puppy. Magazines & therapists everywhere say that one of the best ways to reignite the romance in your marriage or relationship is to go out of town with your partner. Not so for me. A weekend at home with my husband is the most romantic thing I can think of. I know. Am I 80 years old or what? But I think the reasoning behind that is that to me romance springs out of comfort & home is where I’m most comfortable . . . So there you go. (I suppose the advantage to this is that I can have romantic weekends at home almost every weekend of the year which is definitely fun.)
I realize the real solution here is to stop comparing my life to my peers. Yet I also know it’s human nature to do so & trying to stop it is probably futile. I guess what I need to realize is that I am happy with my life & that’s all that matters. If my life doesn’t square with what the average person my age is doing here or in my hometown or anywhere, who cares? It’s MY life after all. And the same is true for anyone reading this. I also know that as soon as spring rolls around, a lot of the lingering depression that seems to slowly sink in along with the winter will quickly alleviate. I find this happens every spring. As soon as it starts getting a little warmer, the days get a little longer, & the flowers start blooming I almost instantly feel a significant lift in my spirits. And every year I think “Wow, I didn’t realize how bad I’d been feeling,” probably because the “February depression” is such a gradual thing that I hardly realize it’s happened until it’s gone. For some reason this year I seem a bit more aware of it; perhaps this is a sign that my mental health has actually improved because I’m more in tune with myself, so to speak.
In any case, here’s to spring & planning some mini-vacations & weekend getaways, if not full-out vacations. After all, one of the most rewarding things we can do in life is to step outside our comfort zones & do the things that scare us.
And here’s to continuing to remind myself that life isn’t a competition; it’s a journey. And just because my journey looks a little different than someone else’s doesn’t mean either of us is wrong.