Does It Get Better?

The It Gets Better Project specifically addresses the question many LGBTQ youth have when they experience bullying and discrimination.  Does this ever get better?

You don’t have to be LGBTQ to ask that question.  You may find yourself in a job that seems to be going nowhere.  Your relationship with parents, children, or significant others may be mired in seemingly endless cycles of misunderstanding and hurt.  There may never seem to be enough money, no matter how hard you save or cut expenses.  It may seem that only destructive behaviors are able to alleviate the stress of your everyday life.

Does it ever get better?

The simple answer is yes, usually things do get better.  But, the complicated answer is that we are human beings – flawed and imperfect.  We live in a world that is unpredictable, filled with random noise and chaos.  And anyone who tells you that life is fair is trying to sell you something.

Does it always get better?  No.  Does it get better and always stay better?  Probably not.  Given the reality of life, then, you may ask yourself, “Why bother?”  You should bother for one simple reason.

TANSTAAFL.  Readers of science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein know this acronym.  TANSTAAFL means, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”  In other words, the only things worth having in life only come to us through hard work and sacrifice.

Can we go through life without risk, without taking a chance?  Sure.  And in America, one can quite possibly live a perfectly satisfying and safe life without taking that leap of faith, without jumping off that cliff.  But, you won’t achieve the really great things, the “wow factor” in life without commitment, sweat, and compromise.

And compromise is a big one.  By compromise, I don’t mean selling your soul or abandoning your principles.  Compromise means negotiating and constantly renegotiating our covenants with each other – what we promise to others and how we will treat each other.  And in order to compromise effectively, you must identify what matters most to you in life, the things that are non-negotiable.  Everything else is on the table, because in the end, the rest really doesn’t matter as we pursue our goals.

The rest doesn’t matter because all of the really important goals involve other people.  I can’t be the best at my profession without clients for my services.  I can’t be an effective parent, child, or sibling without family and committed partners to make the journey with me.  Unless I seek the life of an ascetic, I cannot be truly happy alone, and no drug can give me that happiness.

Identify priorities, work hard, and compromise.  They will not guarantee success, but they will certainly improve the likelihood that you will achieve your goals, and will certainly make the effort more fulfilling.