According to my blog dashboard this will be my 100th published post. As such, I thought I’d do a little ruminating on the past.
When you graduated high school how did you envision your life ten years out?
I can’t remember my exact picture, whether I was a lawyer or humanitarian worker, but whatever the job was, I was doing it. I was living in a big city, traveling, probably married or on the road to it, and the rest probably looked a great deal like an episode of Friends.
And if 10 years ago I was to see a snapshot of my life at this moment, with no context or information about the past decade, it would probably seem pretty grim. Living at home, working at The Falls, single, and so far beyond broke that I can’t even remember the last time I saw a positive bank balance.
But, I think that’s the problem with having those kinds of expectations in your head. Life doesn’t give a damn about the vision you have for your future. Sure, there are some people out there who are living the life they dreamed for themselves way back when, but even that doesn’t mean the road to get there was easy. And for most of us that road had detours and forks and dead ends, leading to a picture that in no way resembles the one thought up a decade ago.
I can think of a thousand mistakes I’ve made in the last 10 years. And there’s a thousand more ‘I should haves’, ‘What Ifs’, and ‘Why didn’t I’s’. But I like to think that in the last few years I’ve been able to stop myself from dwelling on those thoughts, and being too hard on myself for things that I can’t change. What’s done is done, after all.
And, of course, no one anticipated how the world would change in last decade. Perhaps if we’d known a major global recession was ahead that included staggering under/unemployment for a massive percentage of us, we’d have reconsidered that 4 year liberal arts degree.
But I digress.
I don’t mean to imply that having that picture in your head is a negative thing. Having goals to focus on and work towards are important. But I think having that exact image of ‘this will be my life’ can become negative if you refuse to let it change and evolve as your experience does.
My life at this exact moment isn’t ideal, but the road that brought me here had some pretty fantastic sights. Leaving high school I didn’t think that by 27 I’d have had the opportunity to live in UK 3 times, to travel most of Europe, to meet friends from every corner of the Earth, to live out epic fangirl dreams, etc. Sure, the lows have been pretty low, but the highs have been pretty high too. And both have helped shape the person I’ve become. A person I kind of like, if that’s not too narcissistic to admit. I like that I’m independent. I like that I’m able to do things even though they terrify me. I like that I’m introspective, even if it does end up being cliche.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t things I dislike about myself. I’m too anxious, and too awkward sometimes. I spend too much time alone, and too much time stressing over some random thing I said to someone 2 weeks ago. I wish I read more and was more informed on a lot of subjects and issues. I wish I were kinder and were better at keeping in touch with friends. I’d like to be in shape and not feel so self-conscious about the way I look. I’d like to not feel like I need to follow up the statement ‘I kind of like myself’ by listing all the things I don’t like about myself…
However, unlike the ‘I should haves’ and ‘Why didn’t I’s’ I mentioned earlier, all of these ‘dislikes’ are things that I can work to change. I’ve been working on my anxiety for the past few years now, and have hope that maybe one day it will get better. And I can make an effort to read more, be kinder, and keep in touch with people. None of these things are impossible or even out of reach.
I don’t think a lot people’s visions for their future consider both the aesthetics of their life, as well as the inner characteristics of the person they’ll become. I don’t think mine did, at least. But if it had, I hope it would have included some of the things that I consider myself to be today: Independent, taker of risks/opportunities, self-aware.
When I think about my future from here on out, I want to do so abstractly. I’ll allow myself to make specific goals, but will not let those goals dictate the vision for a specific time too heavily. I want to focus more on the present, and be more accepting of my own experience as it’s happening. And most importantly, I’d like to work towards being a person who is one day content, fulfilled, and comfortable in my own mind and environment.
And, yeah, maybe be a little less cliche.
2004 – High School Graduation