This has always been the time of year I take stock of everything – reflecting on the past, thinking about the present and looking toward the future. (It’s my birthday.)
Cue a long, vaguely rambling, navel-gazing post.
When I was younger, this was the time of year I’d start a new diary, with that year’s goals listed on the very first page. A couple of years ago, I realised how few pages of the diaries I ended up using and I stopped to avoid wasting my pretty notebooks.
I started this blog last year, and suddenly here was an effective way to not only keep track of what I’d done, but keep motivated too. And so my desire to achieve goals – my pursuit of happiness, really – was rekindled.
However, reaching another mini milestone, particularly when it comes to your age, makes you think about the changes you’ve yet to make. I really need to start creating some healthy habits. It also means I start comparing myself to others the same age as myself, and I begin to feel like I haven’t achieved what I should have by this age. A friend just got married, plenty of girls from school have at least one child, and a few of my friends have established decent careers.
As regards the first two items in the list, I’ve realised over the past year that perhaps it’s just not for me. More than that, it’s OK! The idea of children still feels at least ten years away, and as far as relationships go, I probably work better on my own. I’m still ambitious, quite selfish and uncompromising. I need the support of my friends and family often, of course I do, but I don’t need a partner. I don’t need to feel like I’m the most important person to someone else – maybe because you can’t miss what you’ve never had.
I think this realisation is a conclusion of a long process of, frankly, thinking too much about myself. Cheesy (and as cliché) as it sounds, I’m happier in my own skin than I’ve ever been. I hope I’ve become fairly self-aware, more ready to accept that I do have some good qualities, and more forgiving of myself for the bad – or mediocre.
Have you seen The Holiday? There’s a great line about being the ‘best friend’ or the ‘leading lady’, and Kate Winslet’s character says, ‘You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for God’s sake!’ I am, most definitely, the best friend character. I am trying to be more spontaneous and take more opportunities – to be bold! However, perhaps accepting my ‘supporting actress’ status is actually helping me to become more content? We can strive to be outstanding, but is the desire to be outstanding born of trying to impress others? Or is the act of trying the most important part for our self-esteem?
When it comes to the question of careers, I definitely thought I would be further ahead by this age than I am. However, perhaps this is feeling entitled? Maybe I need to accept the current job climate. Maybe I simply need to be more patient.
I also need to stop saying that I’ve got to this age and achieved nothing. It’s not really true, but, more importantly, I’m actually dismissing my own good luck. I’ve been to university twice, something that my mother never had the opportunity to do, and something that people can’t always afford to do. The same goes for living abroad and travelling.
It’s strange, because on the surface my life right now resembles my life at the age of 17. I just need to remember that one thing is certain: it never stays the same for long. Perhaps I’ve taken a crazy path to end up back at square one, but I doubt it. If nothing else has changed, I certainly have.
I like to think of it as a maze. Getting stuck in dead ends means it takes longer to reach the finish line. You can get frustrated trying to find the ‘right’ way. However, imagine if you found the direct route first time: wouldn’t the sense of achievement be tempered by the thought, ‘Was that it?’ Perhaps the dead ends and detours are part of the fun.