I've got about 6 months left until I turn 30, and despite every effort to just 'be cool', I find myself needing reminders that April 13 is not an expiration date, it's not a deadline, and it's not a finish line. It doesn't even really have to be a milestone if I don't want it to be.
Because I've kind of come to realize that milestones are a bunch of hullaballoo.
It's human nature to look around and wonder if we're aligned with certain norms or certain timelines--careers, investments, relationships and babies. You know what I'm talking about. We're quietly satisfied and relieved when we hit these marks, but we struggle to be happy with what happens in the meantime. Life. The living we do. The mistakes we make. The surprises that are in store.
And maaaaaybe by "us" I mean me. Historically, I've been pretty terrible at weathering the detours.
In a recent email, my friend Allison offered a new way of looking at the happenings of my life: What if they were not defined by my feelings about them? What if they weren't normal or abnormal? What if they weren't even poor choices or good choices? What if they simply proved that I was living? No matter what, that had to be a good thing.
It took a while for my type-A brain to process that. It couldn't be that simple, could it?
Take my house for example. I bought it because I needed to do something to feel like I was making a life in Marquette. Fast forward two and half years, and I decided that was no longer the life I wanted. Then I spent the first six months in Chicago beating myself up: How could buying that house not have been a huge mistake if its no longer what I wanted? How could I have gotten it so wrong?
But you know what? She's right. Life happens. Goals change. You buy a house and then you don't want to live in it anymore. And that's okay, because you change course, and you rent the sucker out and you move to a new city and you find a life waiting for you that was beyond any of your expectations. But, plot twist!, mixed in with the awesomeness is this new strain of struggles that you didn't anticipate and you realize that expectations are a bunch of bologna, too. Timetables and goals and what you thought the future would look like... it's all a mirage and it changes and here's the most surprising part about it:
It's so much better that way.
The really beautiful part of it all is that I want the life I have now more than anything else I ever wanted before. (Maybe I need to chill with the wanting a little bit?) This really beautiful life I have is kind of messy, but the mess is so much better than the vision.
The mess hurts sometimes, yes, #likeabitch. I fall for people I have no business falling for. I say the exact, precise wrong thing at such a remarkably wrong time that there ought to be a medal around my neck, but then sometimes I really nail it and that feels really good. I struggle to communicate my needs but when it happens, and I'm heard, man, strike up the band! I rely more on my parents than I'd like to, but really, I think it's time to admit that I will always need them, and I think they like to see my name on the caller ID, regardless of why I'm calling. I still haven't learned how to gracefully accept support and advice, but you know what? Grace is a bunch of malarky as well.
A majority of the time it feels like I'm in over my head, but somehow I manage to pull it all off, sans Xanax. The mess is...messy and sometimes it feels like I have no idea what's next, but right now is so much better than anything I could have ever conjured up.
I'm trying to learn that it's okay to take risks, to fall easily, to speak up, to lean on others, to fail--it's okay to do all of those things. Those things make me a human--one that isn't closed off or playing small. What's not okay is measuring myself against fabricated timelines or expectations. What's not okay is beating myself up when plans change or are stalled or fail completely. Because that's usually when things get the most interesting.
You tell me that the hardest part of living / is living in the moment
You turn around, your moment is gone
It may come down to a decision / to change the way you're living
The only way to live it / is to give it everything that you've got --Mike Moran, The Difference
"If a train does not stop at your station, then it's not your train." --Marianne Williamson
All you want is what you can't have
and if you just look around, man
you'll see you've got magic
So sit back, relax, enjoy it while you still have it
Don't look back on life, man, and only see tragic
Because you can be better than that
Don't let it get the better of you
Life's not about what's better than --John Butler Trio, Better Than
"And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should." --Max Erhmann, Desiderata
Well I never seem to do it like anybody else
And maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
But if you ever want to find me I can still be found
Taking the long way around --The Dixie Chicks, Taking The Long Way Around
Detour: (n) an indirect or roundabout course to a destination
Destination: (n) the end of a journey or voyage
Have a little faith, Bobbi Marie. The best and most unexpected is yet to come. Take your time getting there.