Life Is Not A Race. Pace Yourself.

Around this time, many of us see people we don’t see year-round. We gather with relatives and friends, and catch up on all that we’ve missed in each other’s lives since the last reunion. Oftentimes, the focal point of any conversation is not how well you’re doing in school, or how great your new job or apartment is—most people are truly fascinated, and some of us frightened, by the ever-present, “How’s your love life?”

Last Sunday, I had a wonderful holiday get-together with friends from college. Our ages range from 20–26 years old and we are all at very unique stages of our lives. As we exchanged Secret Santa gifts, one of our friends announced that she was expecting a beautiful baby next year and the room immediately filled with excitement, tears, hugs, and palpable joy.

“It was just yesterday that we were all in college and things of this nature seemed so far off,” someone said. And it’s true. Almost two years ago I was still a college student, with big dreams and hopes for the future. Now two years later, working full-time with a more realistic grasp of the world, I see that the timeline I had set out for myself was way off.

I had a plan that I would be married, or at least engaged, by 25. I am now 23 and pretty far from any sort of engagement. Unless something completely magical and or insane happens within the next year, that timeline is going down the drain. Being in a relationship for the totality of my college career, and having it end just a few months shy of graduation, sort of changed my outlook and shifted my path. I took the last two years rebuilding myself, creating my own identity separate from the one I was given by my family and eventually by my ex-boyfriend. I have become my own person.

Being able to fend for myself has been quite refreshing. I go out with friends frequently, and have taught myself how to fully enjoy my selfish 20s without having to answer to anyone or worry about anyone else’s needs. It all sounds so ideal on paper, but internally, I truly miss the moments of vulnerability where I could collapse on my mother’s lap or my significant other’s shoulder after a rough day and they promised everything would be okay. But when you can’t do that, you have to be strong for yourself.

While being independent has taught me a lot about myself, and having a head start on my career is gratifying, I am fearful that personal matters are not going according to my original plan, and that truthfully right now, I have no plan.

I looked around the room that day at my friend’s house, and there was a sort of resignation in some of the girls’ faces that made me realize that some of us were on the same page. While the rest were making major moves in their personal lives, like moving in with a boyfriend, getting engaged, having children, or simply finding an excellent significant other, the other half seemed to all be thinking the same thing: “What’s wrong with me?”

I shook off my few seconds of doubt and answered myself with “Nothing, absolutely nothing.” I have accepted that rarely do things go according to plan. You can lay out a blueprint in front of you that maps out your life for the next year, and I guarantee something is bound to throw you off schedule. Some things are out of our control.

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