My husband and I were talking the other day about how one of the most surprising things about getting older is that — surprise!! — life doesn’t get any easier.
When I was in my 20s and 30s, I had this kind of idea that, that when I was older and wiser, my life would fall into place and the great challenges of youth would be behind me.
I had this (crazy!) notion that somehow it would be less difficult to achieve my goals. That it would be easier to get where I wanted to go. That my relationships would all be smooth sailing.
I think the moment I had that thought, the universe sat back and laughed and laughed.
There’s even a term for this idea — effort shock. Effort shock refers to that surprising realization that “Dang! Life hard, and it’s not getting any easier any time soon.”
Oh certainly some things do get easier.
For instance, it’s easier for me to get dressed in the mornings since I went through my wardrobe and eliminated a bunch of clothes to create more of a capsule wardrobe.
But I was surprised at how hard it was to sort through all those clothes and actually giving the heave-ho to things I didn’t like (because I felt guilty getting rid of that expensive sweater), that didn’t fit (I might actually lose enough weight so they’d fit again), or that were old and tatty (but it’s still plenty good enough for cleaning house or working in the garden).
And, while the getting dressed part of my day is easier, the shopping part is always way more difficult than I think it will be.
Because I’ve gotten more demanding.
I want it all — clothes that are attractive and fashionable but not so trendy they’re out of style by next season. They also need to be soft and comfortable with no scratchy tags sewn in the seams. Plus, I refuse to pay full price for anything any more out of the principle of the thing.
I always thought by the time I was the age I currently am, I’d have all the answers to life’s little questions and maybe a few of life’s bigger ones.
And while I do have lots of answers to the questions I had in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, the effort shock comes with the realization that I’ve got different questions now than I did twenty years ago.
Still, the older I get the more I come to grips with the fact that sometimes things are just hard, way harder than than need to be, way harder than I expected them to be.
So I forgot to put the frozen casserole into the oven that’s been “preheating” for an hour.
So tonight it turned out to be unnecessarily difficult just to get supper on the table.
So why not eat some cheese and crackers, have a glass of wine, and chill until it’s time for a fashionably late dinner.
Large scale or small, effort shock is all around me.
On a night like “Casserole Night,” one of the best ways to mitigate the effect of effort shock is simply by reminding myself that life is hard…now don’t be shocked when it takes some effort.