The Invisible Timeline
I turned 32 just a few weeks ago. Holy. Shit.
I remember when I thought I wouldn’t live passed 20 years old. And here I am, a real life woman. Adulting. And yet I don’t feel a day over 21. Actually, to be honest I feel better than I ever have in my entire life. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, I put my 21-year-old self to shame haha!
Usually on my birthday each year I like to reflect on the year prior; the ways that I’ve grown, the things I recognized within myself, the goals I’ve achieved, and I set new goals for the upcoming year. I’m still going to do that, but this time around I couldn’t stop thinking about this idea of being in my early 30s and how different my life turned out than I had ever imagined—more specifically the goals or plans young Brittany had for herself.
I can't help but wonder if young Brittany would have had an anxiety attack finding out that life did NOT go her way. You see, young Brittany (and when I say young Brittany I mean even 24, 25 year old Brittany) had it in her head that I would have to be married with kids, own a house with a yard and a white picket fence, and a dog, and making kabillions of dollars from being a best-selling author by the time I was 30 years old.
Anything that was not those plans? Woof. Would. Not. Be. Acceptable. Because if THOSE things did NOT HAPPEN that meant … .
The best part about that was I didn’t even know back then what that meant. And I sure as hell don’t know now what that meant/s. Because all I had in my head was that 30 was this deadline for all of us to have our entire life figured out. We had to have a career set in stone, the husband (or wife or partner) as a permanent fixture, we had to have the kids birthed to begin raising, we had to have the home lived in and settled so that the rest of our life would be … .
Would be what?
Something we didn’t have to focus on anymore?
Because frankly, even if those things did happen, that is NO damn guarantee that the rest of my life would be secure, stable, something I didn’t have to focus on anymore, happy, (the list goes on,) because life continues happening after all that stuff is “set.” Jobs can be lost, people can drift apart, locations can change, the possibilities are endless. There is no such thing as “set.”
It’s like we need to have all these little pieces planted in place in order to function because somehow life can't be lived fully without them? And they need to be in place … BY 30.
What is UP with the “by 30” shit we do to ourselves?
Who jammed their staff into the land and shouted from the mountaintops that 30 was the deadline for anyone to have all these society-deemed “important” criteria met?
I made decisions in my life that were absolutely, positively not for my greatest and highest good merely out of trying to achieve these “goals.”
I dated and stayed with extremely toxic people just because I was around that age of wanting to get engaged because that’s when we’re “supposed” to be engaged. And rather than wait for someone, oh I don’t know, who was a great partner, that respected me and loved me the same as I did them, and who wasn’t poisonous to my wellbeing, I would settle for an asshole who was abusive just to get married and have kids before 30. I stayed in a job I hated because I wanted to climb the ladder and make the big bucks so I could get the house before I was 30. I rushed through writing books rather than working more diligently on them so I could pump them out and be a best-selling author before I was 30.
You know how many of those goals I achieved before I was 30?
Half of one. I wisened up when I got to be 26 and left the corporate world to pursue my career aspirations in owning Journeys and working in mental health, but I didn’t land the role I wanted entirely until after I turned 30 – and part of that role is still a work in progress. That’s as close as I got.
And as I said at the beginning of this post, I am the happiest and the healthiest I have ever been in life. Ah, but how could this be? NONE OF THOSE THINGS HAPPENED BEFORE 30! So SURELY I must be lying.
I decided that those things can all happen, but they can happen when they’re right, for starters. I stopped seeing these things as milestones in my life that had to be reached in some invisible race and recognized that these are experiences that may or may not happen to me. I removed the time stamp on my happiness and no longer depended on these outside things to make that happiness for me. This isn’t saying that those things don’t make people happy FYI. This is saying that we get into our heads and think that the only way we can be happy is if those things come into our lives first, rather than letting them enhance an already happy life.
There’s nothing wrong with being excited about these life experiences coming into our lives. And there’s nothing wrong with working toward actual goals (like buying a house). But when we are motivated individuals, who only have our eyes on the prize, we can be really headstrong and do what we have to do to make those goals happen – which includes cutting corners that may not be for our greatest and highest good. Why would we want to cut corners in finding a relationship? Is that really something we want to cut corners on??? Why would we purchase a house that’s only maybe what we want? All to say that it was done before we were 30??
Part of this post is a vent. The other part is for those of you who aren’t 30 yet or are on the cusp of turning 30 and are really upset about it because you have this timeline in your head that so much more was supposed to be achieved by that age. I’ve been that person before. And man can I remember feeling that knot in my stomach and constantly feeling like I was rushing to make all of these things happen. And I know so many of you know what I’m talking about. It’s not a loud, conscious dialogue we are having in our minds. It’s a frantic energy dwelling inside—like a shove coming from our ego saying, “THIS MUST HAPPEN. BUY IT. DATE THEM. HURRY. HURRY. HURRY.”
Now when I look back I cringe at the thought that those things actually might have come to fruition had my intuition not gotten the best of me during the time. I would have been married to an abusive jerk, living in a house I hated, working a job that I didn’t want to be in, and probably miserable with kids because I hadn’t lived my life the way I wanted to live it yet (and Lord knows, our lives get put on HOLD when we have kids!) I’m so so thankful that I waited. That I waited and just allowed my life to happen when it was meant to happen. I didn’t start dating my person until I was just on the cusp of turning 30. We rent, we don’t own. We don’t have a dog. We aren’t ready for kids. Like I said before, my career is still a mega-work in progress despite being in a kick ass space. I’m not a best selling author. But I’m so f&^%ing happy. And none of it has to do with those things. Those things came AFTER the self-love and the working on myself. Those things came AFTER I put all those thoughts into perspective. And they are continuing to come. In due time. When IAM ready – not when everyone around me silently tells me I need to be ready.
We are not Tamagotchi’s, people (did I just date myself? If you don’t know what that is you can look it up). What I mean by that is that we’re not programmed to hatch and meet milestones at specific time intervals like all of those toys. You are a human being. Living YOUR life experience. All of which is going to differ from every single person around you, unless you force it to be the same. But then guess what? You’re not living your life experience, you’re living everyone elses’ life experience. And WTF are you going to gain from that other than a bunch of things you don’t actually want?
If you’re looking at your life and you’re feeling low or disheartened because you haven’t experienced certain things by a certain age:
o Just because people are having these experiences, it doesn’t mean they are happy
o Timelines are made up
o Society is full of shit
o We all are on individual paths, and these experiences come as WE grow and need them, not when everyone else is
o Stop defining your worth based on what you have or haven’t achieved by a certain age—it literally has nothing to do with your value (i.e. just because you’re married, that somehow makes you better than someone else? Just because you know what you want to be when you grow up, you’re suddenly the cats pajamas? NEWS FLASH: you can have all those things and still be a POS, you can have all those things and still be miserable). IT ALL ONLY MEANS WHAT YOU DEFINE IT TO MEAN! YOU place the value on everything.
o Life happens beyond age 30. Not everything just comes to a halt on that day.
If you can honestly answer why it’s so important to have these things achieved by 30 (or whatever fake timeline you’ve set up), then I can at least understand further as to why it "must" be done. But for the majority of us, we don’t KNOW why “it has to happen by … “ other than the fact that we have ideas about that age and that society has put pressure on us to achieve things by that age.
SO here’s a little technique you can use when saying “I have to get it done by … “ or “I need to be blablabla by age 30 … “ or whatever; ask yourself, “says who?” if you honestly answer, “me,” then you need to ask yourself, “why.” And you better have a better answer than “because” or “because I just want to” because that’s not a valid answer when it comes to picking apart the thoughts that harm us.
I know how much some struggle with hitting this age. But I also lived this—I lived these thoughts. And I was EXTREMELY unhappy. It’s interesting to realize that all the things I DID achieve by the time I was 30 were never actually on my list. The things that were on my list were actually quite meaningless in the grand scheme of life.
Please know I come from a place of love when I write these blogs, despite my incessant swearing and snarkiness (you know how I am! I’m unfiltered)
If you want to talk about this more, I’m happy to be here for you when you need me. I’m only a call, text or email away!
Lots of love to you. And wishing you so many wonderful exciting things … to come at ANY time in your life!