This is the time of year when many of us pause to reflect, with gratitude, on all the good things in our lives. But what about all the bad things that are finally gone from our lives? Can’t we be grateful for those, too? I will never have to sit through another Smokey and the Bandit or Porky’s movie for as long as I live. Surely this is cause for celebration.
In that spirit, here is this year’s gratitude post.
I am grateful that the following things are out of my life forever:
The horrible uniforms we wore for gym class. These were ugly, unitard type garments, but with shorts. They were relics from the past even when we wore them.
Bifocals. Why they were given to me as a child, I’ll never know. I choose to believe that I will not be wearing them again, in my older years. Indulge me on this one.
Control top panty hose. I’m never going back, people.
Tab diet cola. With saccharine. Remember saccharine? If you ever had any, the aftertaste probably still lingers. If that’ s what skinny tastes like, I’ll be fat, thank you.
Manual typewriters. And the obligatory white-out that went with them. And the smudgy blots that always appeared all over anything I wrote. Obsessive wordsmithing and last-minute edits are so much easier on a computer.
Old school maxipads. You know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, consider yourself lucky.
Record players that skipped every time you walked across the room.
Physics class. Sure, it taught me how the Doppler Effect works, and that’s kind of cool. But it wasn’t worth the year of torture. Besides, everything I need to know about physics can be summed up in one sentence, put forth by actor Steve Coogan in The Trip: “You only have momentum when you’re going downhill.”
Really bad restaurants. Have you noticed that there just aren’t too many of these any more? Even the most mediocre chain restaurants have upped their game considerably. This is good news for those of us who use our cooking skills….. um…. sparingly.
Dot-matrix computer printers that required you to feed the paper manually. Remember the paper with holes on the sides? Or how easily it misfed, resulting in a pile of crumpled, unusable paper? Remember how your coworkers used to come running because your profanity-laced hissy fit was alarming the whole office? Or maybe that was just me.
Mandatory high school pep rallies. No, really. We had them.
Bridal and baby showers — the most deadly dull gatherings ever contrived. Where else do you find a roomful of women oooh-ing and ah-ing over kitchen implements? The gifts at baby showers are cute, at least, but there’s always one guest whose labor and delivery horror stories send me running for the bar.
Dieting. Trying to eat healthier foods? OK. Reducing junk food? Fine. Skipping chips at lunch? No problem. But I WILL NOT DIET.
Noxema in the blue jar. The tingling sensation meant that it was working! Really! The pain was in no way damaging my skin, and I’m sure the thick, paste-like texture did not block my pores. What the hell was I thinking?
Beer in a can. Life is just too short, people.
The school bus. And waiting for it in single-digit temperatures.
Is it a pain getting stuck behind school busses, every day, on my way to work? Why yes, it is. Especially since — no joke — I’ve seen kids being transported half a block to school, on a street with sidewalks. And I’ll bet the parent still waited with the kid, in an idling car with the heat on. But I’m slipping into bitterness, aren’t I? I’d rather wait behind a school bus than be stuck on one, any day of the week.
But it’s not just external things that I’m glad to leave behind. We all have past versions of ourselves that we’ve cast aside because they just don’t work any more.
Over the years, I’ve been able to give up various habits, behaviors and beliefs. And I’m happy to see them go. For example:
The belief that my basic personality type can or should be changed
I remember a pivotal moment in my teacher training. I was talking with a mentor about my fear that my flexible, relaxed teaching style might be detrimental to those students who need a strict teacher. “But you can’t just change who you are,” she told me. Since then, I’ve learned how to build structure and accountability into my classes without changing my essential self.
The belief that I can or should do everything that needs to be done, every day, or I am either lazy or incompetent (or both!)
How freeing it’s been to grow older and be forced to conserve my physical, mental, and emotional energy! How wonderful to be able to prioritize and accept that, well, if it doesn’t get done today, it will get done tomorrow. And if it doesn’t, maybe it wasn’t that important.
The belief that somebody is always either right or wrong, 100 percent
Oh, what painful cognitive dissonance I used to have in my younger years! Any time two people who I cared about and respected disagreed vehemently on some subject, I freaked out because I didn’t want either one to be “wrong” and, therefore, flawed! When this happens now, I think: Well, maybe they’re both partially right. Or maybe they’re both wrong. They’re doing the best they can with the information they have available.
The belief that disappointment, adversity, weakness or failure are horrors to be avoided at all costs
It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing when life teaches you that you learn from setbacks, and that they can even make you stronger. Do I still want everything to go smoothly, all the time? Sure I do! But it’s so liberating to appreciate where I’ve been and accept that our scars and imperfections help make us who we are.
Dare I say it? I think I’m grateful for not being in my twenties any more.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
How about you? What are you happy to have OUT of your life this year?