A friendly resource for women who want to lead better lives

The path to happiness

Are you where you thought you’d be at this point in your life?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately while I sit in the small apartment we currently live in. Even though I know it is temporary and it is nice here, I thought that at 34 I would be in a nice house with grown-up furniture. I thought I would have things figured out.

A while back I read here about the reasons for the general feeling of unhappiness among Generation Y. The post is hilarious, although it took me a while to recognize myself in it. I am not unhappy, but I am from Generation Y, I was told I could do and be anything I wanted, and being a second child I also grew up thinking more about my true calling than any kind of stability. Perhaps my plans for the future, or lack thereof, were too laid back and my expectations too high. Maybe I listened to too much Aerosmith in my teens, remember? “Life’s a journey, not a destination…”

hi

My life path has not been straight or efficient. It is time for me to change course?

I am not complaining about my life situation. The beautiful lives of facebook, pinterest and instragram often make me long for something different, but I know that life could be a lot harder for us than it is. A lot harder. I am not naive. What I am missing is not the house with the white picket fence, but what it represents: the comforts of a stable career and financial situation, and a sense of being grown up.

Some of my single friends thought they would be where I am now, married and with children- so I think this is a universal theme, something we all struggle with- expectation vs. reality.

At least I know that the reason I am not where I want to be is most definitely my choices in life and career; They have been like the longer way to get somewhere. The route that has more curves and bumps; the one with places to stop and linger too. It has not been the direct path that gets you to your destination quickly and efficiently.

I am proud of having taken time off from work, twice for a total of 18 months, to care for my mother when she needed me, but that derailed my career as a journalist. I am glad I followed my husband to realize his dream of opening his own restaurant, but it turned my life upside down in a way I could never have expected; My career, my family life, and even my social life have been forever interrupted and changed. I could have gone to graduate school 9 years ago and be done with it 2 years later, but I chose to work full-time and study part-time instead. I am still working on that master’s degree!

Perhaps because I know this is all my own choosing, I find the consequences harder to accept. What if I had taken the direct path? What if I had focused solely on me, and not those around me?

However, I am aware that my decisions have made me who I am, someone I actually like, but I often compare my living situation with that of those around me. The nice homes, the new cars and the large closets have a tendency to call my name, even when I desperately want to be a better person, one who doesn’t care about those things. I try to not let it get to me:

  • I appreciate the kind of life I do have: great family, health and a good job. I actively do this every night.
  • I remember the things that I’ve been able to do while following this indirect path, including helping my family when they needed me
  • I acknowledge the truly hard reality of those who are hungry, cold and/or unsafe

Still, I would like to get to where I thought I would be; which is actually not a house with a white picket fence, but a different level of professional success and financial comfort. I want to be able to give my children as good an education as I received from my parents, including good schools and travel opportunities. I also want to feel like I have things figured out, like my life is well put together.

To get there I need goals and a destination. So even though planning and goal setting are not only foreign but also scary terms for someone who longs to have grown up in the 60s, I need to put my day dreaming days on the back burner and change my path so I can actually reach my goals and dreams.

Does anyone else feel this way?

I will write about planning and goal setting soon. Let me know if you have any specific questions I can help you work through. 

-Olivia

10 Responses to “The path to happiness”

  1. Laura

    Lovely piece — and something that I think a lot of people can relate. Sometimes we wake up and think wait, how did I get here? I was supposed to get over there …. Life is interesting that way. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • oliviascribe

      Yes, that feeling of waking up and not knowing exactly how we got to where we are can be scary, although fun to in some ways, right? Thanks for reading Laura.

      Reply
  2. Sam O

    Great article! I am not where I thought I would be professionally or financially, but I was able to take time away from work to be with my son for the first 18 months of his life and be the mother I always wanted. I want to give him every advantage in life. At 37, I have plans of pursuing a new career to help me reach my goals, and it is very scary!

    Reply
    • oliviascribe

      It is always challenging to know if our decisions are right, but it seems like you have found a way to do the things you wanted to do, which is wonderful, even if it has derailed your professional and financial goals for a bit. Best of luck with your career change, and thanks so much for reading.

      Reply
  3. Shannon

    Good post. The older I get, the more I realize everything happens for a reason. There really is no direct path in life. And you are right, there are no “happy endings” because there is no end, life continues on until you die so you have to just make the best with what you’ve got. Cheers!

    Reply
    • oliviascribe

      I love that thought, Shannon. Life does go on and even if we make mistakes we can change our path and do it right, that is the beauty of it. Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  4. Myranda Kimble

    I’ve been feeling exactly the same way, especially as I approach 30 next year. It’s like you read my mind. 🙂 I too try to appreciate the things I’ve learned and experienced through this path that is different than the one I thought I’d be one.

    Reply
    • oliviascribe

      When we approach milestones, such as turning 30, it perfectly normal to think about our lives. Wait a couple of days for the second part to this post, I think you’ll enjoy reading some of the tips I am pulling together to get to that place we want to be at. Thanks for reading, Myranda!

      Reply

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