Timeline of Expectations

When I was younger I had a certain idea of what life would be like at certain ages.  I envision a timeline where I reached a certain age and events magically happened or I made them happen simply because that’s what you do at that age.

At 17-18 I graduate high school and immediately go into college.  When I was 21-22 done with college or perhaps still working on an extra degree and able to have fun but also working my way toward my career.  When I was 25 I would definitely have a degree and be less parties, more career and focusing on the responsible future. By 30 I would certainly be married and if I didn’t have kids I would plan on having kids in the near future.

I’ve been going through old journals and in one I was complaining about my parents then wrote “All i can do is pray that i don’t get old & boring by the time i’m 35.  Yuk!”  I hate to disappoint my 16 year old self but I am a little bit boring but happy.

Basically by the time I was 35 (my current age) I would be married, have kids, be settled in a career, own a house, own a car (well I got that one, of course it’s 17 years old), and basically have it all together.  Unfortunately life does not actually follow any timeline and there’s no map or instruction manual to guide you along the way.

We hold onto this idea of a traditional path to follow and it isn’t until we get older that we see there is no singular path to happiness and success.  It wasn’t even until a few years ago that I began to feel like I even really knew myself, what I wanted and where I wanted to go with my life.  I still joke with people that I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up but it’s true.

I think society has loosened up a bit on the expectations but not completely because people still face judgments and sometimes even judge themselves for not reaching certain accomplishments by the preconceived deadline. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals but deciding you need to be at a certain status in your life by a certain age is not always the best, especially for relationships.

I’ve met women in their 20’s who are determined to be married before 30 as if all the men will quit wanting them or all their eggs will disappear.  Do I hate dating, sometimes worry that I’ll be alone, and wonder if I’ll ever have children? Yes, yes, and yes, but I also believe things happen for a reason and I’m not going to rush into something simply because I should be married at this point in my life.

Do I wish I made different choices in my life?  Yes but dwelling on the past does nothing to improve the future, recognize mistakes and move forward. Just in the last couple years I’ve accomplished things I started when I was younger (finished my college degree at the end of last year) and it reminds me that although I might have missed some opportunities in my life, I’m still alive and capable of accomplishments.

I’m not bashing on anyone who follows a timeline but I think society needs to loosen up and realize not everyone will follow the same path.  We set ourselves up for unhappiness when we fail to recognize in most situations it doesn’t always matter when you get there it’s that you got there.

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