“It’s okay to cry behind your sunglasses: A lesson on long-term gratification.” A guest lesson by Michelle Mullins.

I have learned that history tends to repeat itself.  Recently, I stumbled upon this quote on Twitter: “The greatest human tragedy is that we want what we can’t have, grow disinterested in what we do, and terribly miss the things we lose.”  This really hit home for me, personally.  I tend to take things for granted when they’re there, get bored with it, and I’m always looking for something better.

My lesson for you today, is to not be like me: don’t go seeking out something that could possibly be better.  A lot of the time, it’s not.

Now don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying we should be stagnant and not take risks or make changes in our lives.  I believe that change is important, and striving for more is fantastic.  But when it comes to people, relationships, love—appreciate when you have a good thing.  There are so many pictures on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, and more of couples that you “should” be like.  As much as those pictures are #goals, it is such a minuscule representation of what that relationship actually is like.  I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but the couple with the cute candid picture of them kissing or laughing could be fighting every night, or may not have even been together for that long.  In a long, committed, and serious relationship it’s not always going to be fun.  There will be times when you get into a “lull” in your relationship or get bored with it—but don’t give up.  Don’t let go, and then end up missing what you have lost.  Sometimes, we need to put in a little extra effort so things don’t get boring. Sometimes, we need more communication to save something that is extremely valuable.

The problem with our generation is that not many people (including myself) understand how to put in that extra effort because it’s so much easier just to give up. In our generation, we all want instant gratification, which eventually leaves us feeling empty.  To have fulfilling and rewarding relationships, we need to learn the value of long-term gratification, the ability to resist temptation for an immediate reward, and how to wait for a later reward.  Next time you think it would be easier to break up because you’re bored or because you got into an argument, think deeply about what you would be giving up.  Ask yourself: am I making this decision based on delayed or instant gratification?  In the long-run, will this leave me feeling satisfied or empty?

I have had this experience twice now, and both times I have been left feeling empty.  Do not make the same mistakes I have, or you’ll end up crying behind your sunglasses at work.  While it’s okay to cry and let the emotions out, it is not okay to make the same mistake twice.  Resist smaller more immediate rewards in every aspect of your life—not just relationships—in order to receive a more enduring reward later down the road.

All I can hope for in my personal life is the “three strikes and you’re out” rule.  I don’t deserve a third chance, but I hope to someday earn one again.  An anonymous person on Tumblr posted: “Never trust a person that has let you down more than 2 times. Once was a warning, twice was a lesson, and anything more than that is simply taking an advantage.”  I hope that someday I can have that third chance, not to take advantage—but to do things right.  I know I personally need time to mature and develop more deferred gratification.

Please use this lesson as a warning. Do not grow dissatisfied when there is nothing wrong.  Appreciate what you have, and don’t always go looking for more.  Practice long-term gratification in order to avoid long-term heart ache.

And in the meantime, it’s okay to cry behind your sunglasses.

-Lesson by Michelle Mullins-

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Michelle Mullins is a sophomore at James Madison University, double majoring in Marketing & Advertising and Corporate Communication, with a secret dream of going into journalism.  Her hobbies include workouts at 6am, more extra-curriculars than one can handle, and tumbling. Check her out here at the-michellem.tumblr.com.

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