A few weeks ago a couple of friends and I opted for a crazy Saturday night consisting of yoga class and dinner afterwards. A few minutes into practice I found myself mid-forward fold, eyes behind me and full of envy. As I stared directly behind, I couldn’t help but wonder how it was possible that my friend, who doesn’t practice yoga as frequently, is more flexible than me?! How is she getting into postures that I can only dream of being able to do?! In the midst of my humiliating jealousy I started to feel ashamed for even entertaining these feelings and allowing them to be present, even if it was for a short time.
I know I’m not alone here. I know at one point or another, you’ve found yourself comparing where you’re at in your journey to someone else. Now, my yoga incident might have been what inspired this post, but it’s definitely not at the epicenter of the issue. Ironically, around the time that this happened, I had been thinking, pondering and questioning a lot about my own journey. Everything from my career path to the state of my personal relationships to starting a family were relentlessly bouncing off the walls of my mind on a day to day basis. When it came to my career path, I found myself comparing my modest barista job to those who are working their way up the corporate ladder in the “real world.” When it came to personal relationships, I just couldn’t figure out why I’m at a point in my life where I have the most amazing, healthy, loving marriage that I’ve yearned for for most of my adult life, but not as many close knit friendships like I once had. And weighing heavy on my heart, was the overbearing guilt of wondering why I don’t want to start a family right now.
I mean, isn’t that what goes next?
You go to college, you get a job in your field, you fall in love, you get engaged, married and then you start making babies. While nothing is necessarily wrong with this path, I suppose what bothers me about it is that it’s become an expectation instead of an option. We impatiently propel ourselves through each life stage with little regard for our prevailing needs, desires and emotions.
Other times we find ourselves feeling stuck, despite our intention of propelling forward into that next life stage. We dislike our job, but we stay because we don’t know what else to do. Or, we languish for a special someone, but they just don’t come. The list could go on and on, but I think you know where I’m going with this.
Now, I’m not a life coach by any means, but I have (almost) successfully made it through my 20’s and have experienced a whole lot of this “stuckness” and disarray in my own life. I think we can all agree that this stage in life is not what we’re all seeking after. In fact, I’m sure most of us wish we could just have it all figured out and skip this not so fun stage! Unfortunately, unless you’re some kind of extraterrestrial superstar, you’re bound to find yourself here at one point or another.
As I was sorting out some of my own thoughts, I put together a few ways to embrace where you’re at right now, even if you may not understand the “why” at the moment.
I may be married now, but I spent a good portion of my adult life single. Often times I felt as though everyone had found someone except for me. At times, I was alone and I was lonely. At the ripe age of 24, I remember thinking to myself, “I better find someone soon. I’m getting old!” I laugh now, but at the time it was something that I constantly dwelled on. Looking back, I am SO VERY appreciative for that time. I traveled, I moved across the country, I lived in my OWN apartment, I had the time to create lifelong friendships. Although it’s possible, it’s highly unlikely I would have done these things had I been tied down. There’s something special about being single in your 20’s. Embrace the freedom to do what you want when you want and take this time to really, truly get to know yourself.
Unsure About Your Career Path
I know this stage all too well. Probably because I’m still living it! Who really knows what they want to do when they grow up, anyway?
Since college I have worked in three very different corporate jobs, all of which I didn’t enjoy. This lead me to leave that realm and pursue something totally different: Coffee and people. It may not pay as much, but it sure fills my soul each and every day.
Embrace this stage of life by making responsible decisions (i.e. Don’t quit your job without a back up plan just because you feel like it) and by soaking in as much knowledge as possible. Although I didn’t find my fit in those three jobs, I certainly learned a lot. Each of those jobs paved the way for the next. So, seek out your passions but don’t take your current situation for granted, either.
Living on a Tight Budget
When I was in my younger 20’s, budgeting was tough because the bills seemed to outweigh the income. Fast forward a few years and now budgeting is tough because we are saving for the future. So, unless you have a trust fund, I’d probably get used to this feeling!
I’ve found the best way to ease the stress that comes along with money is to consistently remind yourself of what you do have. It’s so easy to be upset when you can’t take that trip or buy that new dress instead of being thankful that you have money to pay rent and buy groceries. If you have the money to pay your bills, put a little away and have some extra left over, you’re living better than so many others in this world. Make a list if you have to, but however you do it, perpetually remind yourself of all the blessings in your life.
Starting a Family
Once you get married, I feel like the inevitable question that starts out most new conversations is always, “Do you have kids?” My response of, “No, not yet” is usually met with either, “Oh, that’s great! Enjoy your time with your husband” or absolute, sincere confusion. I’d like to say I’m joking about the latter response, but it’s happened a handful of times.
Having kids is something I don’t take lightly, nor should anyone. We are creating living, human beings, after all! For me, when it comes to having kids, it’s always been when not if. It still is, but as a married, 28-year-old I’m definitely starting to feel the pressure to start sooner rather than later. Could this possibly be pressure that I’m putting on myself? Sure. But again, I think our culture does a great job of creating a one size fits all life path that obviously doesn’t fit everyone the same way.
All parents will say that there will never be a perfect time to have children. I totally agree – I don’t think that there’s ever a point in our lives where every thing is complete and right. I do think being honest with ourselves and what is right for each of us is far more important that meeting the status quo. I’ve come to accept the fact that working towards professional and personal goals before having children is certainly nothing to feel guilty about. We all get there when we get there. Can I get an AMEN!?
Amidst these feelings of uncertainty, doubt, jealousy and confusion we must learn how to appreciate where we’re at in our individual journey and accept the fact that we are there for a reason. Every single life stage, experience and relationship or lack thereof is present in order to prepare us for what’s next. I guess what I’m trying to say is, instead of turning upside down and feeling envious about a friend’s yoga skills, find gratitude in even having the ability to do yoga! Be present and move on.
That’s all I have for now friends, cheers!