As I am sure many of you know, it was recently my birthday. It is hard to believe how fast the years seem to be going! When I was younger someone once told me that when you are young the years seem to go by so slow; but the older you get the faster they go… man were they right!
I remember when I turned 28 a few years back. That was the year that really hit me. Most people were dwelling on turning 30, but for me…28 was the big year. That marked 10 years since I was going to be out of high school. It brought back that 18 year old mindset along with all the things I thought I would do in my life. Though I hadn’t even fully decided on what they would all be, they were going to be big things. I had that classic big fish in a little pond mentality. It hit me on my 28th birthday that I hadn’t done some of the things I thought I would ten years earlier.
I was very emotional on my 28th birthday (though I like to blame some of it on hormones because it was two days later I found out I was expecting Dalton). Because of this, I started this horrible habit that I am trying to break. I take a birthday inventory. I started going over some of the things I thought I would do and found that I had fallen short of my own expectations, especially my farer fetched ideas. I never actively pursued some of those things further than a hobby, yet I felt disappointed in myself for not pursuing them to their max potential. I was really beating myself up for all the things I didn’t do. It took talking with my sister that day for her to remind me to focus on all the things I had done. I had traveled to different parts of the world I had never even dreamt of visiting, I had met the love of my life at 19, defying all statistical odds I had gone back to college as an adult, and the biggest yet, I was going to have a baby. I don’t know why it took someone else to point out all these things to make me realize I had accomplished more than I originally planned. Somehow I let the things I didn’t do overshadow the greater things I had done leaving me feeling disappointed in myself.
Since then, I found that every year I have to remind myself of all the things I have accomplished so that I don’t feel guilty about the things I never did. I have always been that person when I really want something I find a way to accomplish it. So if I still wanted those things I thought I missed my opportunity on, wouldn’t I have at least tried by now?
It wasn’t until this year doing my annual inventory that I actually realized how silly it was. Of course things turned out differently than I had thought they would. I was 18 when I started getting ideas of what I thought my life should turn out like or look like when I was older. I hadn’t experienced life yet to really decide what I wanted out of life. I am not the same person I was at 18 (thank God!), it makes sense that my life is different than the 18 year old me thought it would be.
Life is ever evolving and so are the things we want out of life. I hate that I have let myself feel disappointed the past few years thinking I haven’t done enough with my life, when I have done more than I ever thought I would. I got in my own head. I allowed myself to feel like I let myself down because past expectations turned out differently as time passed. It’s easy to forget that you have made every choice to get you where you are. If there is something you really want, then you will really try and find a way to make it happen. Getting stuck on the things we never did, not necessarily a regret, but just wondering why we never tried, can make us miss out on the life we chose and not always appreciate it for everything it is.
This year I decided that though it is okay to reflect on past years, I have to do it in a different way. If there is something I wish I had done (like share some of my writings) but hadn’t yet, if I still want that, then there is still time. If I am unable to do something as quickly as I would like, it’s okay. There is no time schedule for life and the things we really want out of it. I want to remind myself that I can always start working towards a dream (like publishing a book) at any point. I finally realize I need to stop creating expiration dates for things I want out of life and embrace the differences life throws at me. I have to remind myself that everything happens in its own time when it is meant to happen. It is time to go back to enjoying the ride knowing dreams and expectations don’t need to expire as long as I really want to still work towards them.