“I love my boyfriend a lot but don’t know if I will marry him. I want to get married when I’m 22 and I probably wont know him anymore then. I want to have six kids since I wish I had a sister. I will name them Kimberly, Olivia, Christian, Candi, and I haven’t decided on the other 2 yet.”
– ACTUAL PERSONAL JOURNAL ENTRY FROM 2000.
I was 11. I also obviously had no fucking clue what I was talking about. SIX kids? Married at 22?! If only my 11 year old self knew that on my 22nd birthday I could be found peeing in a potted plant in the hallway of our hotel while double fisting pizza and a poutine (clearly 100% sober).
Like I’m sure many little girls dream of, I imagined I would be skipping along the picturesque yellow brick road of life at the exact speed I was supposed to, gleefully tagging all of the “life” check-marks I was supposed to be hitting, at the exact time I was supposed to hitting them.
Wrong. So fucking wrong!
I first muddled my fairy-tale by not going to university right out of high school. Instead, I started my professional serving career, moved to Kelowna with my two best friends, and hopped on a plane to Europe more than once.
I didn’t start post-secondary until I was 22, ironically, and by that time, I was so ready and excited for the challenge that I flew through, posting a 4.0 my first two years and finishing my degree in under three-and-a-half years. So while yes, I was behind, and was slightly jealous seeing my friends already diving in to their careers, I recognized how perfect it had worked out… for ME.
Even after finishing my degree, I didn’t get a “big girl” job right away. This was not for lack of effort; I wanted one SO badly! But, the market was exactly chomping at the bit for a 26 year old Communications and Journalism graduate with absolutely no office or administration experience, whose only job held for the prior 8 years was as a server or bartender. However, the slight shame I felt at not being able to obtain a job in my field only pushed me to work even more feverishly toward other goals. I worked my fucking ass off, saved up a solid little nest egg, and bought my own condo downtown last year, all on my own. Would I have been able to do that had I been working an entry-level, $40,000 job in my field? Probably not. Once again, in hindsight, I realize the blessing that was bestowed upon me by having to wait for the “big girl” job I craved so badly.
One thing that I WAS on the right track for, according to my Grown Up 101 handbook? The marriage timeline. I got engaged just after my 25th birthday, to the most amazing man. I was beyond elated to be engaged to my ex. But timing was going to provide a curve-ball, once again proving that life doesn’t always chug along in line with our expectations. Things between he and I didn’t work out, simply because my 25-year-old head wasn’t ready. There was this tenacious thought scratching incessantly at my brain, a constant itch of the knowledge that I wasn’t even close to mature enough to commit to someone for a lifetime. So we broke up. Truly, to this day, the hardest decision I have ever made. A year a half later though, and I am at peace. The lessons learned throughout that seemingly-insurmountable period I know I was meant to learn, needed to learn (and I will share with you, one day, once I gather the words).
Would it have been wonderful to marry my best friend whom I truly loved with so many parts of me? Could we have made it work? Probably. But “probably sure” isn’t good enough for me, and it without question wasn’t good enough for him. Sometimes I panic and wonder if I let go of something so special too soon… but then I remind myself:
Trust the timing of your life.
Don’t rush, don’t panic, don’t worry if you’re not where you think you “should” be. Last year, I finally surrendered to the mythical fairy-tale chains that had bound me for the majority of my life. I stopped thrashing, stopped pushing, stopped trying to force things that weren’t ready to be. Tumbling into the recognition that life happens as it is meant to happen allows the gates of possibility to open and opportunity to pour into your life. This is your journey, don’t allow it to be bound by societal expectations.