“Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.” — Cheryl Strayed
A part of me died the day I realized that I wasn’t going to get what I thought I wanted.
My sister, father, brother-in-law and mother were all married before the age of 23.
At the age of 24, most people in my graduating class are either engaged, married or have children. Yes, children. Not even one child. (There’s nothing wrong with that, btw. I can just barely afford my rent LOL)
All my life, I wanted so badly to be like everyone else. I hated that my parents never let me have a television in my bedroom. I hated that I wasn’t allowed to go to the mall with friends on Friday night. I hated that I could never get my hair to lie flat like all of the popular girls in middle school.
I didn’t want to be pale. I didn’t want to live in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t want to have U.S. Cellular. Thanks for that, Dad. I’m still paying for that decision 12 years later. I get LTE in Strasburg, VA, but extended service in Pittsburgh, D.C., Baltimore….WHY?
I wanted to live with my townie friends by the Potomac River. I wanted to pierce my bellybutton at 15. I wanted to be on homecoming court.
When I was 16, I had to temporarily stop texting a boy I liked just because I was the only person in my class to have a 750-message limit, instead of unlimited texting. I was so embarrassed thinking, “Why can’t I be normal, just this one time?”
There’s also no flirty way of saying, “Hey, I am 16 years old and don’t make enough money at Dairy Queen to pay the extra $10 on my parents’ cell phone bill, so we will talk later. Bye ;))))).”
Your 20s feels like a game of musical chairs at the Gates of Hell. It’s a special kind of panic that makes you think that everybody is on the same beat of music except you. I thought that I needed to be married and have kids by now — yes, by 24. In middle school, I told one of my friends that I would *die* if I didn’t have two kids by 28.
I tried to quiet this panic by fast-tracking my life and planning every major life decision in the next 10 years so I didn’t get stampeded by life’s milestones that I was missing.
It was a painful realization that I was trying to mold myself into an identity that was never mine. It’s the equivalent of trying to make a Happy Meal lid fit on a size small McDonald’s cup. It looks like it should fit, but as much as you wrestle with that bad boy, it’s just not gonna happen.
I’m not going to live in Williamsport for the rest of my life. I’m not going to get married to my high school boyfriend at age 21. (See this for clarification.) I’m not going to have a belly full of babies in my early-mid 20s.
That moment of realization was jarring for me. I just thought all of those things would fall into my lap.
A life that I never had flashed before my eyes, but it’s a life that was never meant to be. I can watch how this kind of life was meant to play out through many dear friends and classmates, but I set my own version sailing down the Potomac River.
Now that I look at things through my own eyes, as opposed to the microscopic lens that is my hometown, I understand that I didn’t actually want any of those things, as painful as it was to let go.
I am a strong believer in things falling into place. As always, there are many things that are up in the air and on the line for me.
But fall they will.
“Now all those simple things are simply too complicated for my life.” — No Doubt