No Buts

I know it’s ok, but…

I know it’s ok, but I’m not where I thought I’d be by now.

Its psychological you know

When it comes to expectations, we approach them from what we already know and what we see and experience around us. So, we can’t actually picture what our life will look like – yet society and pinterest tricks us into planning it all out and pretending that the best we can do is white weddings and trips to the hamptons with our two and a half beautiful babies. Big houses, and little league and – clearly I grew up very lucky because I know how much privilege comes with those dreams.

And it’s funny because these expectations, they aren’t unlike how we view happiness because subconsciously we all have a level of happiness that we can rise to, before we believe it’s “too good to be true.” So we expect what we already know to happen again, just as it has, and when it doesn’t, it jars us. We grow up expecting what we think we deserve, but at any age we are still learning what we deserve based on our own developing definition of worth so — in short, we can’t fathom what the future looks like, but we honest to goodness believe we can. And then we get disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Back then I had it all figured out

Or at least… I thought I had it all figured out. Typical youth dilemma, I know.

Anyway…

Lately I’ve been excessively retrospective, telling my friends that “I had a better idea of what 26 would look like when I was 16, than I do now.” Which is somewhat a lie, because back then I didn’t think I’d make it this far but also true in that – when I skipped to this part of my story, being an adult and having freedom etc. it did look a lot less complicated. But back then, so did life.

A decade ago, in 2012, my future looked a lot less complicated and a lot more straight-forward. And despite what you may assume, it wasn’t because I was young. It’s because the world we know now, was just getting started.

[Insert HUH?]

Let me explain…

In 2012, I was 16 years old, just over 3x the age of the first iPhone, which was made in 2007. And this was also the year, most of us thought the world was ending, not because we had real proof, but because at least 4 movies came out saying that it was going to based on a calendar that was thousands of years old. In 2012, the music industry was much harder to get into. Like a lot harder, and it wasn’t because the talent wasn’t there but because the technology needed to make an EP was much less accessible than it is now. In 2012, I was still watching the Disney channel… and all the shows were still irrefutably iconic and High School Musical wasn’t a remake it was still a story being told for the first time. In 2012 I was binging the vampire diaries, and writing the first draft of my novel. I was grieving, and living with it, and praying to a godless sky that I could find answers that I knew wouldn’t come. In 2012 I had no possible idea of what my 20’s would look like beyond fiction and fantasy – but in that way, I suppose a part of me then, knew more than I do now. Because that’s exactly what the concept of our twenties is before we actually get there… it’s fiction, and fantasy, and excessively hormonal teen dramas with all the sex and none of the quarter life crisis that we all inevitably go through.

So yeah, a decade ago I had a more clear picture of what 26 would look like, but 5 days out from my 26th birthday – I have no recollection of what I could have been thinking at 16.

I know it’s ok… but – no buts

I know it’s ok, but yeah, I’m definitely NOT where I thought I’d be by now… and that’s hands down the best gift I could have given myself this year because when I say “I’m not where I thought I’d be” it’s not a feeling of inadequacy, and, surprisingly, it’s not even a feeling that I’ve fallen short of my own expectations, because frankly those would have been with me, buried 6 ft in the ground or scattered across the lake that my dad and his siblings grew up on. Truth is, if I had ended up where I honestly thought I’d be now, at 16… well let’s just say I’m really glad I didn’t. And this life, it’s not a fantasy, and it’s not a show on HBO and I don’t have a super sexy vampire boyfriend [or girlfriend] – but I am figuring it all out, day by day, and on my own time.

So yeah… when I say, “I know it’s ok… that I’m not where I thought I’d be,” I mean it. Not because I never wanted to be somewhere else, not because I never wanted someone else’s life, not because I wish I had become the princess of Genovia living in a castle with Sandra O answering the queens calls [although, that would be pretty damn cool]. I say, “it’s ok” because I’m here. Because I made it. Because I kept picking points on the path to run to and telling myself, “Rachel, if you make it there, you can stop. If you make it there, it’s not giving up… but also, keep going.” And honestly, the more I think about it, I love that I am not where I thought I’d be in my imagination ten years ago, because when things get hard now, and when someone tells me it’ll be ok… I believe them. And the rest? Well, that’s all just part of the ride.

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