I feel like so much of my life I’ve been waiting to “grow up”, or waiting for whatever is to come next that is supposed to be this ideal place in my life. I remember thinking when I was 16, “I just need to get through high school, college will be so much fun…” And then I get to college and think “oh this is a lot of work. I cannot wait to be done with school and into the real world” and then when I got to the real world, it really wasn’t all it was cracked up to be either. So I went back to school for my MBA before really jumping into life. I got caught up in this cycle that so many people do-school, college, work, and in that order because that’s what you do. And then you’ll be an adult, finally able to live your life, and that is the ultimate measure of success.
The problem is, waiting to “grow up” didn’t stop there. (I am saying grow up still, but it might be more appropriate to say something like, wait for my “real” life to start) When I became a mom I kept thinking, when my kids are at this age I will do this differently, or when they start school we will establish a very routine life. All of these times I’ve thought ahead and really not lived in the moment. Life was passing me by, and I had no idea. I was just always waiting for it to start. I just kept waiting for this illusion of what life should be like to actually happen.
But why? This is my life and I am living it. It is happening all the time. I suppose it has something to do with outside influences more than some internal disconnect. You see, there are countless sources of entertainment such as TV or movies that show these “perfect” lives. These people follow these paths and grow up, make money, deal with struggles, raise families etc. I was doing all these things, but it just didn’t feel like this was it.
And then there is social media. Don’t get me wrong, I am very active on social media, but it’s such a funny concept. People highlight the good in their lives, and rarely the truth or the struggles. It is hard to not compare your life to others. Look at these people, balancing their professional lives with their growing families; oh and they went to a formal event last weekend. How fun! They’re really living their life. Again, I am doing these things, but it just felt like I was waiting for the next step, the stability, the real life. But I didn’t even know at what point I would get there. I don’t know if I was measuring this artificial goal by money, status, relationships, or something else. I just knew this wasn’t my real life.
And with that, I spent the first 28 or so years waiting. Most of the time without knowing what I was waiting for.
About a year and a half ago I started thinking to myself about how I hadn’t had thoughts about “what’s next” or “when I grow up”. I hadn’t had a moment where I think “when life starts I’ll make these changes” for quite some time. It wasn’t like anything had really changed, I think I just became OK with where I was. I finally realized that while my life looks different than anyone else’s, this was my life, and I am living it. Finally!
I thought ahead to the end, and realized that I have no idea when that is coming, but I don’t want to keep watching my life pass by, and come to at that moment. I can’t live for tomorrow, because that isn’t guaranteed. While I am always planning for tomorrow (financially specifically, because the thought of being poor stresses me out) I have started to live in the moment more. I don’t want my doubts in myself, my lack of certain material things, my shortage of money, etc. to dictate my self worth and my ability to live. I want to look back some day and think, “this life I have lived was pretty great. Look at all that I did. All those that I loved. All that I changed.” And if at that time it seems small to others, I will know how great it all was.
So how is it different than it was? Well, I guess I subconsciously applied my favorite way of tackling all big projects, chipping away at them, to my life. I set smaller goals, focused on smaller events, looked at the micro picture and focused on trying to be content with what was happening. And as those smaller events happen, those goals are met, this picture zooms out, that is my life. And I. Am. Living. It!!!
These things are truly small. “I will start working on a better bedtime routine for my boys” or “I will save 18% for retirement each month” or “I will close 10 loans at work this month” and so on. You see, nothing on an individual level was life changing, but together it all changed my life. It made me live, and realize I was living.
It may have taken me the better part of 30 years to understand, but my life is happening. It has been this whole time. I just needed to sit back and realize it. So if you are also waiting, I hope you realize yours is happening too. You don’t need to wait for that dream job, or a certain amount of money, or to be married with kids. You are worthy of living your life. So don’t let it pass you by. Live!
❤ MS Andrea Jackson