We can't change what we've already done, but we can change what we do next....
Ever feel like you’re behind in life? I feel that way sometimes. Divorced and single. Childless. Unfinished college degree. I’ll be 32 this year. I don’t know how or when, but early on we’re convinced that life is all about templates and timelines –
- get your license at 16
- graduate high school at 18
- graduate college at 22
- get married at xx
- have kids at xx
- have the white picket fence life by age xx
Then when you reach a certain age and haven’t met one of those apocryphal milestones, you feel like some sort of failure perhaps. When it comes to life there is no template for anything, really. Well, maybe potty-training. I’d hate to see a thirty-something person in diapers at my favorite eatery. This is not an excuse to have zero ambition, but more so that it’s perfectly ok to accomplish things in any order. 🙂
When you graduate high school, the world is your oyster. You have so much available to you. Don’t be like me. Now granted, right now I have a really nice job, my dream car and a house. But that is now. Back when I was fresh out of high school, I didn’t do anything – because my ex guilted me into not pursuing my dreams.
I graduated in June of 2003 and enlisted in the military December of 2003. The military pays 100% tuition for state schools. I really wish I would have pursued my college degree vigorously back then. Because now with two jobs, family, friends, a life – I find it much harder to concentrate on school. I need/want my time to accomplish certification courses for my career. So, its a struggle that I need to turn into a balance.
My ex wouldn’t let me travel; I waited by the phone (this was before the cell phone was popular). for his call every day. He lived in a different state and we’d spend the weekends together. Then when I got married at 18, he truly believed that I was his property and should obey everything his said – including what to wear, when/what to eat, who to be friends with, etc. Divorced at 23, I had new found freedom. 11 months after my ex left me, I got into another relationship. I wasn’t emotionally trapped, but this time a prisoner of my bank account. This ex had a issue with taking all of my money. So I could barely afford to pay my bills. When that relationship ended, there I was…28…starting over yet again.
I felt like such a failure. I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was a child, and said if I were to have kids it wouldn’t be until I got into another relationship and got to know the person enough to feel confident making another human with them. Now approaching 32 and with the diagnosis that having children would be a miracle or impossible, still single….there are some days I feel like I have failed at life.
Because I compare my life to this imaginary timeline.
My Facebook timeline is flooded with my friends and their spouses and children. It’s hard not to get wrapped around the axle and over-analyze every move I’ve made in my life. Then I read this quote:
“You must always be yourself, and do things at your own pace. Someday, you’ll catch up.” ~ Natsuki Takaya
My perspective has since changed (mostly). I’ll finish college when I am ready. I’ll get into a relationship when I meet someone meaningful, and whose ideals match mine. If I end up not having kids, that’ll suck – but, I’m far from a failure. I’m “doing me” as the somewhat colloquial term goes.
So, if you are reading this and feeling down, don’t. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t base your success on the milestones of others. If you have a dream, go for it. Please listen to me when I say, don’t hold yourself back for fear of what someone might think.
Don’t judge this song by the artist, but Miley Cyrus’s song “The Climb” have some truth to their lyrics.
Depending on where you are at in life – whether you’re 16 or 60 – you cannot change what you’ve already done, but you can change what you do next. And your next steps should be to stop comparing yourself to others and start believing in yourself. I’d rather regret something, than wondering what might have been. Are you afraid of making a move to another state? You afraid of starting a new job?
How will you know unless you try?
So that is where I am at in life – doing what I want to do, achieving my success the way I see best for me, and enjoying life at my own pace. Hopefully in time I kick the feeling of being behind or a failure. I need to remind myself of all of my accomplishments, rather than all the things I don’t have or haven’t done. Use my failures and bad experiences as a way to prevent yourself from experiencing the same kind of feelings.