So I’m sitting here on my porch with my dog, a bottle of wine, and my own thoughts. I’m checking work emails on my computer, listening to spotify on my iPad, and checking twitter and instagram on my iPhone. I’m seeing posts from the current graduating seniors in their senior week and I immediately become envious and start typing a tweet in response for a personal comic relief….something along the lines of “dear graduating seniors, while you’re off having the time of your lives with all your friends let me just paint a picture of your futures a year from today: alone on your porch with a bottle of wine.”

Luckily what I typed was too many characters for twitter. I was able to pause and deeply think about the type of self-harming pity and joking that I was doing and so many of us do to shake off our insecurities and vulnerabilities. I exited out of my work email, paused my music, and canceled the tweet. I just sat here on my porch and allowed myself to be in this place. After spending several minutes in true solitude, I found that I’m really not envious of the graduating seniors at all. I’m actually content here on my porch and probably won’t get up until I go to bed. I’ve already turned down two social invites from friends for the evening and I’m content with my own company for today.

The crazy part about that is, I would not have realized my contentment if I hadn’t taken a moment to reflect on it and be with myself, here and now. I would have gone through my evening wishing I was still in college, or having FOMO from whatever my friends are doing. I would then numb my envy and sadness with five to seven episodes of a show on Netflix and my new obsession with a jigsaw puzzle app on my iPad. Then would come a restless night of sleep because I went to bed with miserable self-pity. It is so easy today to be sucked into a detrimental cycle of jealousy and sadness, so much so that you can be perfectly content and not even realize it because our culture promotes discontentment. We are to be busy, but also always available on our devices; available to respond to an email immediately, be the first “like”, and consume advertisements and media content until we hate ourselves. We then end up being jealous of our friends, resentful of our jobs, spending money we don’t have on a new comforter from Anthropologie, or killing brain cells with five hours of HBO. I can’t even count the number of nights I’ve done this to myself. But today I’ve decided not to. Instead I have spent my evening alone, in my place, on my porch, and completely full of gratitude and joy.

A year ago I sat on my old wrap-around porch on Cleneay with all my dearest friends. My world was crashing in (literally and metaphorically, for those who know that story). I thought nothing could be as great as that moment with all of my favorite people. We could never be closer. I would never meet anyone better. I could never be as happy as then. Today I’m on a new porch, reflecting over the past year and see that my friendships have deepened beyond my expectations. I’ve met new friends and colleagues that I adore and have made me and my life better. I am just as happy as I was then. There is no place I would rather be right now than right here. Most of this year has not been that way and it’s because I didn’t take the time to be present in my surroundings. I was either too busy reminiscing on the past, thinking too much about my future, or wishing I was more like someone else. But all it took was a little mindfulness and reflection to see and truly believe that I love who I am and I love where I am now.

I am now able to check social media and be genuinely happy for my friends who are graduating and taking the next step in their lives. I am able to appreciate and truly love the friendships that have deepened or been newly made. I am even able to have gratitude for the hard experiences and decisions of the past year. But most life-giving of all, I am able to radically and consciously decide how to bring my best self to the next porch I’m on.