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…”
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.