Every year around my birthday, I like to examine where I am in life. As a 30 something single woman, this is definitely not what younger me pictured. I always knew I would work, maybe have some kind of a career, but that was never the focus of my dreams. My goal was getting married and having children. As a matter of fact, I had a whole plan to be married by 25 and having my first child by the time I turned 30…well, that didn’t happen.
I stumbled through some troubled romantic relationships in my early twenties, and after I hit 25 and marriage still hadn’t happened, I started focusing more on my career. But even with that new focus, I was still honing in on what I wanted to do and where my passion lay. And since life had gotten in the way of where I was supposed to go, I got into the habit of always looking for the “next big thing”. The next job opportunity, relationship, relocation, hobby, and so on. Always looking for a way to improve my life and check items off of an imaginary to-do list.
Don’t get me wrong, I was appreciative for the things I had in life, but it was my life as a whole I had a hard time accepting; I always thought I would be somewhere else, doing something else. Maybe you think that yearning isn’t such a bad thing—that it keeps you growing—but if you’re always looking at what’s next, you’re never focusing on the here and now, appreciating those moments.
The realization dawned on me the day I attended my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. I looked around at my family and finally understood we are all on this journey. None of us knew where we would be today. Listening to my grandparents sharing stories from their past, I discovered that no one understands the impact certain choices make on our future selves; the only thing you can do is make the best decision for you today.
It’s those choices that guide you to who you are going to become. Your past shapes you and doesn’t always land you where you thought you would be but sometimes it can lead you somewhere better.
So that was when it hit me: I had been striving for a life that wasn’t mine. This is my life now: I don’t have kids, but my friends have kids I’ve watched grow up and love like my own. I may not be married, but I have a family that supports the choices I make and friends I can count on to be by my side without question. I am a professional woman with a career that allows me to be creative and work with people. I have the freedom to travel and try new things. This is my life.
I made the conscious decision that it was time to become content. Unpack some of the things I still had in storage “in case I moved again”, stop job hunting, absorb what I have in the present. Of course I could still set goals and work on improving myself, but I would also take the time to be grateful for what I currently have and who I have become.
It was time for me to accept not where I am in life, but where life had taken me. To stop being so concerned for the “next big thing” and simply be present.