I was born September 6, 1987.
My parents just barely over the legal drinking age. Wait, never-mind. My mom had just turned 20, my dad was 24.
I was brought up in this world with everything a kid could ask for. My parents adored me, my grandparents smothered me, I had aunts and uncles galore.
I was constantly surrounded by family.
As the years went on I acquired MORE family, 3 little brothers in tow.
Ryan, Taylor & Jacob.
We fought, like any siblings do – but no matter what, I was raised in the spirit of, “When your mom & dad are dead and gone – your siblings are all you have. So you better learn to love each other and get along, damnit!”
This was usually said between dodging my mom or dad’s hand as it attempted to slap one of us in the back seat of the car after fighting with one another… Ryan was probably breathing on me, jerk.
The ideas, dreams, and expectations I put on myself were created based off of my environment.
All the women (there weren’t many, … soooooo many boys!) in my family were married at 19, didn’t work, and pumped out babies.
So naturally, when I was 13, the idea I carved out for my life looked a little like:
Married by 19-20.
Children around 21-25.
Be good to your husband, take care of your family, then you die.
Wow – #goals.
As I got older, those bullet points changed. Mostly because I grew out of them.
At a certain point I was 18, single, a full-time student, working full time and barely able to support myself, let alone children. I must have been crazy to think I could actually accomplish those things I dreamed up in the past.
I would meet guys and think, “OMG – If I want to have kids and settle down, he must be the one.” Shortly followed by, “He’s annoying. I can’t do this. I don’t like him.” Shortly followed by, “I’m just going to be alone forever. Screw it.”
I allowed myself to dream. That’s all it ever was. It was never something I attempted to make a reality. These standards I set for myself were just unrealistic for where I was in life. I started to hold my success based off of the ever pressed “check list” which would become:
- Go to college
- Get a good job – good benefits – preferably a corporate gig
- Meet “the one”
- Get married
- Have kids
- Raise kids
- Obviously stay married and have the most wonderful love story of all time
- Buy a vacation home on a tropical island and sip adult beverages out of a coconut until I die.
Well – that’s not really the way it’s worked out for me, and I need to be okay with it.
There is a BIG difference between lying down and accepting the cards life has dealt you and then choosing the life you want to live, grab that machete and blaze your own trail.
I had constantly felt like a disappointment. I self medicated with things that would distract me. I spent so much time in search of these distractions that I had not even realized all the time I had wasted.
It is extremely difficult to hear things like,
“You will never be successful because you didn’t go to college.”
“You’re not getting any younger, Jack, maybe you should settle down.”
“Do you want to have kids?”
“When will you grow up?”
If you choose to measure my failures and successes based off of this scale, then yeah – I screwed up. I should have just settled for the boy, gotten the ring, had the kids, and been done with my life. Followed that “dream,” which – turns out – wasn’t really my dream at all.
We set expectations on when things will happen and if they don’t happen in that timeline, then the opportunity has passed and we must move on.
You’re right. I’m not getting any younger. Time feels like it’s moving faster than ever. But why do I need to try to live my life based off of someone else’s expectations of me? Why do I need to attain goals set by someone else?
I have spent the better portion of the last year “working on myself.”
Let me explain what that means to me.
I have read countless books, participating in group discussion, reached out to coaches, connected with strangers, and learned why I am where I am.
It would be so easy to blame my single, workaholic lifestyle on my past. But I can’t keep using that as an excuse.
My nature to self sabotage my relationships stems from example and experience. It has always been easier for me to trust women than men. I find a girl I vibe with, and I instantly want to spend time with her. It feels SO GOOD to have that connection with someone who I feel I can trust and open up to. It is far more difficult for me to have that in romantic relationships with men.
This may or may not come from having divorced parents, watching how my grandpa treated my grandma when I was younger, or simply being lied to on a regular basis by men I have dated.
I don’t know. I probably won’t ever know. But that’s not the point.
I set up blocks that prevent me from accelerating through life. That prevent me from obtaining and reaching different goals. These blocks are slowly starting to identify themselves, which allows me to learn more about why I am the way I am and how to change.
People can’t change. Bullshit.
Sure, I have allowed others to influence how I feel about myself and where I am in my life. Who hasn’t? You would be lying to yourself if you said otherwise.
Giving them all the credit for where you’re it though… that’s just an excuse you create for yourself when you’re unhappy.
Acknowledging where you are, why you are there and where you want to go. What makes you happy. What makes you sad. What makes you angry. What makes you motivated and inspired. These are the big questions.
I am the most disorganized, organized person I know.
My car is usually free of debris except for a makeup bag, lunch bag, and dog hair that floats around when the windows are rolled down.
My home looks like I have a live-in maid. I an obsessive compulsive with cleanliness. I find it’s easier to control my environment than my life.
My work life has become all-encompassing where it required 60-70hrs per week to complete everything that “must be done.”
These are things I can control. This is why these things stay organized and exactly the way I want them to.
Disorganization comes in when I start thinking about all the shit I want to do but haven’t done yet. This is where I use distractions so I don’t have to actually DEAL with the problem, the blocks.
Friendships that end for no apparent reason. Was there a reason? Am I just so self-centered I don’t see why they ended? Did I not try hard enough? Did I not listen? Did I forget something? Was it my fault?
Romantic relationships that end due to self sabotage. Was the grass greener on the other side? Was I settling? Was I looking for reasons to leave? Was he the one? Did I screw up?
Getting comfortable in a “job” not “career”? Do I deserve more? Should I be doing more? Will I be able to get a better paying job without a college education? Did I screw up my whole life by not going to college? Will I ever have more or be more than what I am today? Should I just settle and accept this is my life and this is what I’ve chosen?
How do I handle these things? Am I doing it the “right” way? Is there a “right” way? Or am I just continuing to create distractions from allowing me to face my fears and problems head on?
That’s a lot of questions. Questions I can’t always answer. Sometimes I don’t want to answer.
Then there’s the added pressure of just being a damn woman: marriage and kids.
If I don’t pick a partner soon, I’ll never be able to and I won’t be able to have kids = what kind of woman doesn’t want that? What’s wrong with you?
The funny part is – we put the majority of these expectations and pressures on ourselves based off of our environments and social stigma.
I rented this super nice apartment because I want to be surrounded by nice things. It doesn’t make me narcissistic because it makes me feel good when people come over and tell me it’s nice. I like it. I spend the majority of my time at home when I’m not at work. I earned it.
I bought a Lexus. Sure, I could have bought another cheap-o car but I wanted to feel like I bought something with my hard-earned money that made me feel like I was actually doing something with my life. It wasn’t the most expensive car, it gets amazing gas mileage and it’s exactly what I want and what I felt I needed. When people said, “A Lexus? On your pay? How the hell did you manage that?” <– that’s just rude, so STFU and mind your own business if you’re not going to congratulate me on buying a car.
I’m still single (not married) and don’t have kids. This doesn’t mean I’m broken or have exorbitantly high standards. It simply means I’m not going to settle for any run of the mill Joe. It’s okay to want someone who matches my work ethic, integrity, passion for life, and allows the dog to sleep in the bed. Get over it. I’m not choosing to be single, I’m simply choosing not to settle.
Yes, I want all the things and more. I’m just going down my own path and learning at my own pace. Just because it’s different from yours or what you expect from me doesn’t give you the right to judge me or apply pressure for me to settle for something that isn’t what I want for my own life.
Getting here as been SO HARD.
Learning to accept myself, love myself, and appreciate the things I do have and work so hard for has not been a cake walk.
Life was not handed to me on a silver platter.
Sure, I am a white woman – so I am automatically more privilege than the rest of the world. I may have had things “easier” than some. I choose NOT to degrade myself or my feelings because my life has been different though. I choose NOT to deny my pain simply because someone does not validate it. I still FEEL this way and refuse to compare my situation to others.
I can still sympathize and empathize with others, sure. However, I make a conscious choice not to disrespect myself and the things I have gone through and the things I continue to go through.
I did not take the same path as many of my friends and family.
I decided to grab that machete and forge my own path. One that makes others uncomfortable and causes them to questions my decisions, of this I am sure. I did not check the boxes, I did not follow “the plan” I had originally set out of my life.
I have this beautiful friend who has this amazing quote tattooed on her arm.
“Man Plans, God Laughs”
I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I am a spiritual person. I do believe in a higher power and I know my life here on earth is not by mistake.
I find comfort that someone else has gone before me and that I will make it out to the other side okay.
This may not be what I originally pictured my life looking like, but it’s exactly what God pictured it to be.
In that, I find peace.
Until next time.
Xo – Jack