I'm in a love-hate relationship with myself. I'm my best cheerleader, and at the same time, my biggest bully. The most common argument between these two sides of me is that I'm on a set schedule. I have a timeline laid out for my life and the clock is ticking. I put more and more pressure on myself, then become more and more discouraged as time begins to run out.
What is it that I'm aiming for? Where is the finish line? Well, this is what I've been planning on: that I will be settled before I am 30. I will have found my husband, soul mate, life partner; and I will have landed my dream job as a full-time professional blogger. I won't have to worry about getting hurt; I won't have to worry about making rent. I will be settled in my love life and career life. I will be calm, relaxed, and -- finally -- satisfied.
When I was younger, I thought that would happen by 25. Now that I'm 24, I've had to extend the deadline. Why did I expect so much? Well, I blame it -- in part -- to the adults around me. "You can be anything you want to be! You can do anything you want to! If you believe it, you can achieve it!" It was easy for my pre-teen self to believe that I would be a world-famous writer when I was told by parents, teachers and religious leaders that I could.
Perhaps they were right to encourage me. But they should have followed it up with telling me that it would be hard; that it could take years; that I would have to make sacrifices and mistakes and life changes along the way.
They should have also told me something that I'm still learning now: if you focus too much on the future, you won't enjoy the present. It is so easy for me to push myself to get to that finish line, but at the same time, I'm missing the scenery. I'm losing grip on gratitude. I'm forgetting to simply sit and smile and breathe.
But more important than all of this was an epiphany I had within the last month: in order to get to our destination, sometimes we need to take a detour. Sometimes we need to take a frightening, unknown road to get where we want to be. Sometimes we need to do things we don't like or want to, yet it's the only way to end up in the right place.
For so long, I have been stubborn. After nightmarish experiences at my first and only full-time job, I was determined not to work anywhere that was not affiliated with fashion or writing. If it did not directly coincide with my degree, my passions, my career goals -- I didn't even apply. I was worried that any other job would be a distraction from my craft, that it would take control of my time and I would no longer be able to put forth effort into my big dream.
I have been working as a part-time retail manager for six months now, and my money situation is dipping to emergency levels. My pride is now being pushed aside for necessity's sake. I had to let myself get to this point in order to learn and grow. I am ready to crank the engine back on and take the detour that I have been putting off.
My timeline is silly; there is only so much I can control in order to get what I want. But it's good to have goals, and I plan to stick to them. My route is different now, though... and I know that if I reach 30 and still don't have Mr. Right (or Mr. Right Career), I can always extend the deadline to 35. After all, it's my damn life.