When I was younger I used to pride myself on being carefree, well… at least within reason. I was never one to turn down a dare, I went away to college without thinking twice, and hell, after that I up and moved to Tennessee without knowing anything more than where I had to take the U-Haul.
However, when the universe stepped in forced Nashville to abruptly kick me out, I felt like that was my wake up call to start acting and living more like an “adult.”
Since the move back to Michigan about 5 years ago, I can honestly say that I’ve tried to live in a way that I felt an adult should live. I landed and slaved away at what I believed was my dream job, I’ve had *cough cough* numerous memberships to numerous gyms, and I’ve saved an amount of money that I am proud of. No longer do I have to put $7 in my gas tank to last me until the next payday nor do I have to just buy the on-sale canned goods.
I even went as far as trying to build the life that I felt I should have that 30 – finding someone to settle down with and buying a home. And you know what, I’m proud of these things and I’m not ashamed for wanting to be fit, happy, healthy, in love and financially secure but… the more I focused on these milestones, the more I felt as though I was losing me.
For the last 5 years, I was following a plan that I couldn’t dare let myself stray from, even when my heart tried to tell me to quit. I felt as though I had it all figured out. It didn’t matter that I was unhappy deep down or that maybe this life roadmap wasn’t my map.
But these last six months have given me the most important shakeup of my life.
Life succeeded to shake me up to the point where I didn’t care about my bank account, finding a realtor, or forcing relationships that were never meant to be.
I had to be smacked in the face (not literally – whew) before I found that life doesn’t really care about whatever plan you tried to map out years ago. To me, this shakeup has taught me that no matter what rules, or life plans, I try to live by, I can’t escape this idea that life didn’t want me to keep my head down, following some plan that I didn’t truly believe in or really want deep down.
What it did do was go to the extremes to take me back to the basics of what it truly means to be alive – to put health before fear, to be an emotional support for those who need it most, to build relationships with positive/happy/supportive people, to strive to be better in my career for both professional and personal growth, and to live.
Really, truly live.
I had to learn the hard way that I wasn’t meant to follow this plan I decided I wanted and honestly, I’m not entirely sure any of us are. Because when you focus on milestones in your life you want to hit without enjoying every day that life gives you, are you really living at all?
Are you working at something that you truly enjoy? Are you building relationships with those people who make you a better person? Are you focusing on your own personal growth? Chances are, if you’re focusing on the fact that you should be married by 30, own a home by 32, and have a family by 34, you’re not. You’re always looking ahead rather than taking advantage of the very things that life has put in front of you.
As much as I’ve tried to resist admitting this, I found that this adult roadmap I’ve made up isn’t for me. And at age 30, I finally feel confident in who I am and what I believe in to accept that maybe deep down inside I’m always meant to be a little bit of a free spirit.
I would rather focus on being the version of myself I can be, to look for the silver linings in heart breaking situations, and to be the best friend, daughter, cousin, and marketer that I can be.
And not that I need to leave you with any advice but I will because I know it’s easier to take advice when someone else says it –
Pick your head up and look around you. Stop staring down at this imaginary roadmap, focused only on milestones or the idea that you to have your life figured out.
Take a deep breath, call your mom, send a friend some snail mail, and read an industry-focused blog. Focus on what makes you happy and do it. Just do it.
I promise that you can’t go wrong if you wake up in the morning and just work towards being the best and happiest version of yourself. That may bring you to a promotion or to finding love, or it may not right away. All I know is that following happiness is much more achievable than settling down in 2 years when you’re not even in a relationship yet.
If you follow these words of advice, you won’t be let down by things that are beyond your control or by a roadmap that you were never meant to follow. Just live a life that makes you happy.