Who were you before the world told you who you were supposed to be? All those years ago, when you weren't even 18 and you had the whole world staring back at you...had your whole life ahead of you. Sitting in the high school parking lot, looking back at the building you had spent four years in dreaming of the next chapter yet having no clue as to what on earth you were going to do...not only in that moment, but most importantly, with the rest of your life. You held hands with your best friend and you tried hard to figure out where to go, what to do, how to take that oh so important first step towards...what? And now, all these years later...22 years later...do you feel any wiser? Do you have any better direction? Do you have any idea what you want to do, or where you are supposed to be...or, how on earth you got here...how THIS is your life? And while you have so much to be thankful for, your focus shifts to the disappointments, the sense of anxiety-inducing fear that you have given much of your life to things that you would have never in a million years wanted in that moment all those years ago in that parking lot when all you had ahead of you was time and choices and future. Now, while nowhere near old, you feel more lost than ever in many ways...mostly because you still have no idea and you are overwhelmed with the weight of the life that has settled around you and you ache with longing for the choices you no longer have to make...the near misses...the decisions you don't necessarily regret, but can't help but wish you had had better guidance for now that you are looking at them in the rear view mirror. The life you dreamed of doesn't exist. There is another one that sits in its place - so much more than you could have ever hoped for in some ways, and nowhere near what you imagined in others. Your life's purpose still eludes you. The one great thing you've done is growing up before your eyes and will be off on her own great adventure before you have time to blink. That fact alone causes the walls to close in as you wonder what on earth you will do with yourself in those four short years with no one left to need you. And then you remember that you told yourself you would focus on nothing but good this holiday season...and in some ways you feel overwhelmed at the ridiculous pressure you put on yourself simply by saying those words.
This life. It is a good one. But it is not epic. It is small and in so many ways I feel I continue to miss my mark. My dreams - what few I had - seem to fade rather than grow brighter with each passing day. I am unsure about my words...they don't come easily most days and that breaks my heart. I find myself struggling to find inspiration. Instead I feel stuck.
Who was I before the world defined me? The girl who wanted to be...who was going to be...so much more. I dreamed of journalism, of magazines and television...of telling the world’s stories and saying the things that mattered. Instead? Instead I’m left wondering how I got here. Twenty-two years have passed since that 17 year old girl sat in a maroon mini van in a gravel parking lot of her high school, hold the hand of her best friend while wondering with more excitement than anxiety “what comes next?” If she could see me now...I’m afraid of what she’d think. No, I’m not ashamed of my life. I regret little, but what I do regret was ultimately giving up what all I truly wanted out of fear...fear of losing a guy. Insert eye roll here. And that fear snowballed into insecurities, many of which I carry to this day. Mostly the fear of not being enough. Where in the hell does this come from? How did the girl who always thought she was somehow special end up always thinking she’s not enough? And then, how did that same girl consistently choose jobs that were safe, but nowhere near the dreams she once had...winding up, at 40, wondering how this was her life?
Where do I go from here? How do I encourage my daughter to chase her dreams, to be whatever she chooses, when she’s watched me do the complete opposite? How do I show her that we get one life to do everything we were put here to do...one life to do everything we want to do...one life to be whatever it is we want to be...when I haven’t even come close to doing any of it myself?