More often than not, life is horribly confusing. What you think you want somehow doesn’t satisfy you. Where you thought you’d be somehow eludes you. Why you thought you were here somehow becomes insignificant.
Fifteen years ago, and really ten years ago and five, too, I would have predicted that at this point in my life I’d be married with at least one child living in a nice little suburban neighborhood, driving some kind of SUV and doing family activities like driving to soccer practice and going to the farmer’s market on my Saturdays. I’d buy things like Go-gurt and Underoos and have to get a babysitter for date night. I’d make dinner for my family every night, and my husband and I would tell each other about our days over a glass of wine. We’d go to his family’s Thanksgiving and my family’s Christmas and spend New Year’s with friends. We’d go on family vacations and spend Sundays at Grandma’s, and I’d make a big pot of chili for us to slurp out of bowls on the couch while watching football.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t somewhat jarring to me that my life has turned out the way it has: 32, single, no aforementioned family to speak of.
Sometimes, you have to take a moment to mourn the life you think you’ve lost.
I took this idyllic life so for granted, that I never stopped to think about how I’d get there. I just assumed that if you let life happen, you’d get the things you wanted. But I never really stopped to think about me in this scenario–the “me” that I’d be independent of being a wife and a mom. I quite literally never stopped to think about myself, or my career, or who I’d be. I just knew that I wanted a family, so I focused on my relationships more and myself less.
When I realized that life wasn’t happening for me, I was forced to focus on myself, and I didn’t really like what I saw. I was so co-dependent, so busy taking care of other people, and I didn’t want to focus on me. I suppose I didn’t think I was worth it.
I knew I had to start somewhere, though, so I went back to the one thing I’d had all my life: running. I rediscovered a somewhat abandoned hobby so I could say there was at least something I liked to do. Just me.
But then I realized I didn’t really have a career, either, and the stark reality of attempting to purchase a home on my own and finance my retirement entirely solo became increasingly apparent. Why hadn’t I thought of any of this before? Because it was just supposed to happen, right? Because my husband and I were supposed to do this together.
I realized my teaching career wasn’t going anywhere, but there were other things out there that I was–get this–actually interested in. I know it seems sad, but at nearly 30 years old, I had never even thought about what I might like to do. I just thought I’d have some nameless job, and it didn’t really matter what it was because I’d be so busy living my real life that what I actually did wouldn’t be significant.
Why I carried on this delusion so long, I can’t say. But it’s the truth.
So instead of feeling sorry for myself, instead of looking around at all my girlfriends and seeing that they all have the life I thought I wanted–and realizing we have less and less in common–I have to accept the life I have and make of it what I can. Try to be happy with what I have. Is it what I wanted? No. But if someone gives you a gift, you pretend to like it and find a place for it and treasure the thought behind it.