I remember being 7 years old and laying in bed dreaming what life would be like when I “grew up”. I had my life planned out a T! I would get married by age 20 (the same age my parents married) have my nursing degree by 22 and start having children by age 24… Yes this was an intense game plan.
The day I turned 23 was such a disappointment. I had no degree or career in place, no boyfriend or even potentials, and no kids. I felt like I was failing in life.
I think I can say we have all experienced plans that have fallen through in our lives. We dream big dreams, we set expectations, we make goals.
Whether this is in our personal life (not being married by age ____), in a career (still being a waitress at age ___), health (why am I still struggling with this disease) and weight (my pants from high school won’t fit), these disappointments hit hard and make us feel like we are not up to par.
I can safely say I have been there and still can be there depending on the day! So what can I do to justify this in my head? What can I do so I don’t get bitter at God or myself? Well I did some thinking and I thought I would share:
1) Do Not Compare: One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Taylor Swift and I are born one month apart. I have caught myself saying several times, “look at Taylor Swift, she has won like a million Grammies and here I am working on my rug hooking kit and watching Little House on the Prairie” (yes, I am an honorary Grandma). It is so easy to compare, feel inadequate, and almost compete with family, friends, and acquaintances especially in this Instagram pretty world where you only see people’s highlights in life. I now try to focus on my own journey and accomplishments while celebrating others milestones. I am just happier that way.
2) You are not a Failure: The best thing about this crazy life is that it’s an adventure. Yes I did not get married by age 20 but I had no business getting married then! In hindsight I had so many things I needed to work on before I could be a whole person and have a healthy marriage. In perfect timing I got married at age 24 and a half (exactly) and I could not imagine my life any other way. Just because it’s not what you planned doesn’t mean the scenic route won’t be just as beautiful!
3) It’s Okay to Change Plans: You might know I didn’t become a nurse. I did one semester and really struggled with Statistics. But what I did find out is I LOVED my Native Studies Course. This was the start of my deep love for the Aboriginal community. I started heavily volunteering at the Inner City location of my church and even had two summer student positions there. Later when choosing my career path, I chose to work at a non profit homeless shelter. Yes I did not become a nurse but instead I was in a new area of helping people through while using dignity and respect.
I think unmet expectations are something I will struggle with my whole life! But keeping my eyes focused on my journey and celebrating others will keep the joy flowing.