There’s a common joke in big cities that you can always tell the tourists apart from the locals. Alongside taking WAY too many selfies in front of The Bean, tourists typically have a habit of gaping up at the tops of the skyscrapers. You can always find the newbies on Michigan Ave, eyes toward the sky, jaws hung wide open.
When I first moved to the city, I scoffed at tourists.
“Ugh, tourists,” I would say with an eye roll, “get out of my way already.”
However, after nearly a year of living in the big city, I have come to realize that many who pass me on the street most likely think that I am a tourist because I have not shaken the habit of gaping up at the skyscrapers. You can find ME on any giving day squinting up at the sky, trying to find the tops of the buildings that surround me.
I only just realized this on a habitual walk to work. That despite my confident stride and the ‘don’t mess with me’ expression I wear on my face, my wide-eyed staring up at the Wrigley building negates all ideas of me actually living here.
Because, despite having lived here for over a year, I still wake up every morning with a sense of adventure. I wake up grateful to be exactly where I am and feeling lucky to be able to learn and grow among sky-giants and deep-dish pizza. And I sincerely hope that I never lose that. I hope to wake up every morning for the rest of my life excited to be exactly where I am.
I think, a while ago, without noticing, I decided that it was better to be happy where I was than unhappy. Groundbreaking, I know.
For years, I was stuck in a place where I had no hope and no future. Every day was a struggle to get out of bed and keep going. And, somewhere down the line, I think I just decided to see the good in my world until I didn’t have to anymore, until I was able to move to a place where I could have a future.
So, I stopped looking at all of the things I hated about my living space and began to look for the good in it. I found new ways to look at my life, I looked through new eyes. And it helped immensely. Getting out of bed became easier every morning.
And, now, even though I still have bad days, I try to look past them and see the good. I try not to focus on the evils that surround me or the overwhelming stress I feel sometimes, because, for the first time in my life, I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I should rejoice in that.
It’s difficult at first, thinking this way. It’s tiring to constantly be looking for the good in things when the good doesn’t want to be found.
It takes conscious efforts. Continuously backtracking and revising your own thoughts to find the bright side.
“Today was hard, but tomorrow will be better,” instead of “today sucked, my life sucks.”
It sounds stupid and ridiculously simple, but it works. Look through new eyes. Search for the good until the good begins to stare at you right in the face, until it can no longer be ignored.
So, I know life really sucks sometimes. It does. Work can be difficult and demoralizing, school is exhausting and stressful, and life can just really take it out of you sometimes. Trust me, I know.
But, I implore you to look past your hardships and try to see your surroundings as a tourist would. Imagine seeing your life from fresh eyes and try to find the good in where you are right now. Because, even if you aren’t where you need to be right now, there is no reason to be unhappy simply because you haven’t gotten there yet.
Be a tourist in your own world, gape up at the buildings and never stop looking for the top of the sky.