“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
A common quote we hear rather frequently. I’ve heard people say it when they leave their hometown for the first time, after a break up or they’re going into the real world after college.
I am in my last semester of college; I’ve seen many of my close friends leave this small town behind. It’s hard and it doesn’t get any easier. There are the weeks leading up to the final day they pack their car and don’t look back, filled with the “we have to do this one last time before you leave.” We try to jam everything we can into those weeks, make some final memories and spend as much time as we can together.
The thing is though, I know exactly what I have while I have it. I try to appreciate everything in my life as much as I humanly can. I say thank you, I try to bring people together, I tell my friends how thankful I am for them and how much they mean to me. But things are still going to change, things are always going to change and there’s nothing I can do about it, or anyone else for that matter.
I can’t change that college is only four years, or maybe five or six. I can’t change that people move away and get their dream jobs or settle for a comfortable yet safe lifestyle. I can’t change that even if my best friends lives a couple streets over in the future that we most likely won’t spend as much time together when we’re older. We just can’t because life gets in the way with kids and marriages and careers.
For the time being make the most of everything you have so you don’t feel like you didn’t know what you had till it’s gone.
Love everyone in your life.
That girl you always strike a conversation up with in the bathroom line at the bar, give her a genuine compliment next time you see her. The old man you say hi to at the coffee shop every morning, sit down and have a conversation with him. Wave to more strangers; say hi to people who look like they could use some recognition. Mostly, love your family and friends. Don’t ever fail to tell them how much they mean to you. Make sure they know just how important they are to you.
Document things because when the years pass and the memories start to fade away you can always pull out old pictures and the reminiscing of old times will come flooding back.
Write a journal.
I don’t keep a journal per say, but I write down important things in my life. I saw a post on Facebook to write down something good that happens every day in a jar and then read them when you’re having a bad day. I took this idea and made it my own. I bought a big mason jar and a stack of Post-It notes and write down when things I’ll want to remember happen. It helps me remember how I felt at that moment in time. The more detailed the better for you.
Go out and adventure.
I’m sure your best memories aren’t going to be sitting on the couch watching endless hours of Netflix. Make the most of the time you have with the people you’re around. Go find a cool place to hike or a lake to spend the day swimming in. Find a place to volunteer at that you both support the same cause. Gather a group of friends and play pick up basketball or kickball. Find little local treasures in your area to appreciate.
Open your mind.
By opening your mind you allow yourself to think more freely and be open to new things. It will help you accept what you have and be appreciative.
Realize change is an important part of life.
Without change life would be boring and not possible. Progress is not possible without change and change is inexorable. You can’t stay in college forever. You can’t expect your friends not to leave. You have to accept their decisions and support them. You have to follow your own dreams wherever they lead you.
And change is a good thing.
You’re going to celebrate when you get the promotion you’ve been working your ass off for or when you’ve reached traveling to your 25th country. You’re going to be head over heels when you walk down the isle and say, “I do.” You’re going to remember the first words your child said. You’ll have the secrets from the person you spent nights talking to across the world. Whatever your path may be, change is needed for growth.
You know exactly what you have when you have it; it’s just hard to accept that it won’t always be that way. There is no such thing as too thankful or over appreciative. So love everyone and every experience. Spend time making all the memories you can and appreciate the people you surround yourself with.