Despite the hardships I have endured in this last year, I would not characterize myself as a wholly unhappy person. I still derive joy from little things and feel content spending time with friends or engaging in my hobbies. Regardless, longing and dissatisfaction are two things I am all too familiar with. When I reach one goal, I only think about the next, not even stopping to acknowledge what I just accomplished. During my first year of college, I became extremely motivated. As a result I have a higher GPA than I ever had in high school and am taking on two leadership positions next year for clubs I am in love with. I am learning Danish, steadily working my way through my never-ending reading list, and I’ve recently learned how to play the dulcimer. I feel more accomplished than I did in all my 4 years of high school (even with the aforementioned hard knocks). Yet all I can think about is what I want for next year. What about getting a job at school to put towards my future apartment? I have to work extra hard next semester. I just want it to be second semester next year so I can take Psych 201 already. What about starting yoga?
Whether you are a close friend of mine, a casual acquaintance, or even just someone who stalked me on social media one time, you probably know one very important fact about me: I love Joni Mitchell. The word love seems to not even do it justice. She is the reason I began playing the dulcimer, the reason I buy certain clothes (referred to affectionately as my “Joni pieces”) and I always take it as a compliment when my friends refer to me by her name. She is a role model of mine in the purest sense of the phrase. However, it is not just her music or style that provide me with such a sense of comfort and closeness to her.
In the 1974 Rolling Stone Magazine review of her album Court and Spark, Jon Landau writes: “Joni Mitchell seems destined to remain in a state of permanent dissatisfaction—always knowing what she would like to do, always more depressed when it’s done.” Reading this description struck a chord in me. Though I had been listening to and relating to her long before reading this review, this excerpt suddenly brought my affinity for Joni into sharper focus. It wasn’t just that we had both loved and lost, or felt lonely and insecure. She and I are both confidently decisive and ultimately dissatisfied. It is not a particularly fun feeling, but knowing that someone as prolific as Joni understands makes the burden a bit easier to bear.
I am not sure if this discontent is something that will follow me around for my whole life or just something I am experiencing as a preamble to my imminent quarter-life crisis. Regardless, I recognize it as something I want to work on. There is no reason I shouldn’t slow down and start appreciating the things I’ve done. I like acting as a cheerleader for my friends and I probably spend too much time bragging about their accomplishments to random people. So why shouldn’t I support myself the same way? Luckily I have my own team of aggressively loving and supportive cheerleaders (here’s lookin’ at you Bob&Debbie, Ainsley, Char, Danni&Cynthia). If my accomplishments are enough for them, they should be enough for me. And to whoever is reading this, I guarantee you: whatever you have done in your lifetime is worthy of personal celebration. This summer, please take time to stop and smell the roses in your own garden. But remember—don’t grow complacent. Keep striving. Appreciating your past accomplishments in no way means you cannot or should not keep growing. And if you need help, I recommend starting by putting some Joni on the record player.
Laura Slotpole is an avid corgi enthusiast and student. She seems to actually believe it is 1973 and probably wears too much glitter makeup. Follow her on Instagram.