Lately (perhaps my whole life, or at least as long as I can remember), I have had a strong tendency to catapult the absences in my life as excuses to why life may not supply me with the idealized gratification that I have come to expect. In some cases, this When/Then thinking, as I like to call it, would be acceptable, particularly in the example, “When [I have saved x dollars], Then [I can buy that car]”. For material things this mentality is practical, but in terms of life milestones and happiness, When/Then thinking turns me into a dog chasing its tail endlessly in circles. I have been abusing this mentality and have extrapolated its use to non-applicable circumstances in life, only to be left with poignant disappointment.
It started with, “When [I finish high school], Then [I will have the ability to be mobile from this banal, cultureless city of London]”. Living and experiencing what is arguably the best city in Canada for the last 4 ½ years was grand, but after first year, I met Mr. A. Pook, which caused When/Then fever to infectiously return.
My thinking then became, “When [I complete university], Then [I will be able to enjoy my boyfriend’s company in its entirety without being at a 4500 km distance away]”. Now that I am back from out West, it is “When [I have a real job making decent money], Then [I will be able to have a productive life and pay back my educational expenses]”. Will it ever end? I could even predict my future When/Thens without even coming close to those life accomplishments yet.
You would think by now, as someone who considers herself a semi-intelligent young woman, I would have determined this trend long ago and tried to break my faulty When/Then cognitions. Apparently this has been unsuccessful. I am certain most of us go through life with constant When/Thens but never even suspect that there is something inherently wrong with this form of thinking. I believe there most definitely is. Nothing in life will ever be perfect. We need to enjoy each life stage as it happens, and quit making excuses for our less than complete present lives. When we are 70, are we really going to be kicking ourselves in the ass for not working more? Will we be upset that we were able to have some of the best times of our lives because work did not consume our integral being from the moment we graduated? NO.
The future is no place to place your better days.
Ways that I suspect "When[blank], Then[blank]" is creeping up on YOU
a. When [I lose x amount of weight], Then [I will be satisfied and happy].
b. When [I get married], Then [I will know he truly loves me].
c. When [I have a child], Then [I will feel fully complete].