Stop Putting A Pin On What Your Life Should Look Like By A Certain Age
Resist the urge to pin an age requirement to a life accomplishment.
You know what I mean. It’s when we say, “I’m going to be married by a certain age, or I should have accomplished these particular career accomplishments by this age, or I should own a home by this age, or have children by this age….and so on and so on.”
We place these expectations on what a perfect timeline looks like, and then we beat ourselves up when our timeline goes askew. And I wish we all would stop doing that. I wish we’d realize that the beauty in life lies in the unexpected and that the timeline of expectations is just something someone made up once upon a time, and for some reason, we’ve all fallen into line.
I hope you step out of the line.
Embrace the beauty in the unexpected and the unknown. When you deviate from the timeline of accomplishments that you think you are supposed to have, the things you are truly good at, the dreams that rest on your heart, and the love you have to give and receive become clear.
Life begins to come into focus.
I was once working in Salt Lake City for six weeks — and I flew into Phoenix a week before I started the job to see that part of The United States and give myself a bit of a vacation. At one point in the trip, I was faced with the option to take Highway 12 — an old scenic route that would bring me through tiny towns and beautiful sights, or Route 89, a major highway that would get me to Salt Lake City much faster.
I opted for Highway 12.
It was a couple of years ago, and I still remember that drive. I remember the unexpected burger place I stumbled upon — the conversations at a tiny diner. The beauty of the nature that surrounded me — it was something out of a movie.
Life happens along those old highways, in the space of tiny towns that don’t show up on a map, and at the picnic tables of a roadside burger stand, and conversations that last for hours because the mountains and red rocks block the radio signal — and so you end up talking to whoever is with you on the journey instead of zoning out to music.
Let go of ages of importance that you came up with as a kid, a teenager, or a 20-something. Resist the urge to say, “By this age, I should have done x,y,z.”
When you let go of the picture you painted of what you think your life should look like by a certain age, you can more fully appreciate the life that you have created. When you’re able to see how far you’ve come, you’re able to project where you’d like to go. So cherish the moments of change, the blank spaces on your calendar, the tiny moments of joy throughout your day, and embrace the plans that go awry.
Then watch how your life unfolds.
Previously published on Thought Catalog, here.