Friday, February 1, 2013

stop waiting for your life to start & start living it now


When I graduated from college a few years ago, the only thing I really had figured out is the fact that I had absolutely nothing figured out. I knew I was moving home to Arizona, but I didn't know for how long. I knew I needed to find a job, but I didn't know what line of work I was interested in. I knew I wanted to get married and have children, but the prospects were few and far between.

Consequently, what followed was a strange, angsty limbo phase. There were growing pains, there were false starts, there were highs and lows and ups and downs and wrong turns and right turns and turns I'm still trying to figure out.

And I kept waiting for my life to start.

From conversations I've had with multiple peers, I was not alone in this post-grad, lost-puppy, limbo-phase experience. And even if your situation looked a little different than mine, I would venture to guess that you've experienced something similar when life didn't quite turn out the way you planned.

The thing is, we all have a Plan A. When you looked forward at age 12, 15, 18 or 25, it was the way you pictured the pieces falling into place. Give or take a few details, it probably included items like married at age ___ and staying married for 60 years,  mother or father to ___ children, own a home at age ____, land dream job as a ___ at age ___ making $___ per year, etc. 

You had a timeline. You had a Plan A. 

And then a funny little thing called real life happened. And sometimes real life looked like Plan A, but other times it felt more like Plan B, C, or Z.

For a long time after I graduated, I felt like I was living Plan B. Like I said, I was waiting. I was waiting for my REAL life to start. I just had to be patient, is what I told myself. And I just had to endure that other stuff until the good, right stuff arrived. It was just about holding out, keeping my chin up, being strong and waiting, waiting, waiting.

Here's the truth: I was already living Plan A.

Sure, it didn't look exactly the way I had always envisioned. I was not married, I had no children, I spent a lot (A LOT) of hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer so I could squeak out a monthly rent check and whatever other expenses came my way. But that's not because my real life hadn't started yet -- it was because I was wrong about what my real life was supposed to look like. I was simply wrong about what Plan A was supposed to be.

I was waiting for my life to start, and it already had.

In everyone's lives, there are forks in the road. There are jobs we could have taken, jobs we could have quit, trips we could have gone on, words we could have said, relationships we could have ended, relationships we could have started, etc. But when we chose to go right instead of left, or left instead of right, we didn't suddenly leave the correct life path and wander off into a world of forsaken, second-tier life experiences. We simply rerouted, and then that path became real life. It became part of Plan A.

What is it YOU are waiting on?

Are you dealing with a perpetually single life? Divorce? Infertility? Unemployment? Sickness? Financial struggles? Lack of education? Heartbreak? The death of a loved one? Whatever it is, it IS your real life -- and if you're like me,  I bet you didn't necessarily plan on it.

I spent years waiting on a lot of somedays and keeping my eyes glued on MY Plan A, when real life was already happening to me. Being graduated and single and childless wasn't the wrong plan, it wasn't a waiting ground, it wasn't a holding pen or a limbo phase -- it was the right plan, the right time, the right phase. It was my real life, and it was the right one. It still IS the right one!

The time to be happy is now.

Whatever it is you're waiting on before you start living your life to the fullest, let it go. Live your life right now. Stop waiting on a magic wand, handsome prince or fairy godmother to whisk you away to a castle or carry you off past the second star to the right and straight on til morning. Because while you're doing all that angsty waiting, you're going to miss the life that is already happening to you.

Be happy now. And if you're truly not satisfied with the here and now, stop wallowing and do something to change it. If you're unhappy with your past, focus on your future. You can't change the past. Proactively facing the future is the best way to get the most good out of your past.

But it's time to stop waiting.


Katie said...

Like I said before, you are my "wise soul" friend. I love this post so, so much. Such a good reminder, to anyone in any phase of life.

Autumn @ Autumn All Along said...

I love your posts. So, so true.

Cheri said...

I loved this post. I have been there. I have felt like I was just in limbo ... graduated, single, etc. But, these last few months, I've been trying to adopt the same attitude you have. I can't just WAIT for what I want to happen, or I will miss out on some incredible times that are right NOW.

Jael said...

I am just starting to figure this out. I am currently trying to work my way through my quarter-life crisis, so this post has excellent timing. Also, I periodically have to remind Paul (and myself) that when he is done with school in a year and a half (for the first time in what will then be 7+ years of marriage) that it's not like life will magically "begin." We are already living it. This is simply a phase called "grad school." I think his (and sometimes my) problem is that we think the next phase is called "real life," but really it's just "the phase after grad school," but they are both very very real. Anyway. Thanks for this. I like you.

Jacqueline said...

so good and so hard to practice. great post!

Unknown said...

YES. I love this so much. It's like you took all the thoughts that my brain has finally started to figure out and put them in beautiful words and added all the right things.

Unknown said...

My plan a: expect plan b. Things are far from what I anticipated-and I think I kind of love that. Thanks for the beautiful post pretty lady.

~Matt said...

I feel like there is so much truth in what you said. I'm trying to find my own balance between being happy with my current life and being complacent. I know that a lot of the time, I'm happiest when I'm not waiting for something to happen, but rather when I'm actively out there making things happen. I think you did a wonderful job of expressing that idea and I fully accept your challenge!

FWIL Sentimental Blog Content said...

You are wise beyond your years Katie!

Cheryl said...

Something we definitely all do at some point! I have a friend who calls I'll-be-happy-when: I'll be happy when I'm in a relationship / have a different job / am making lots of money / have no debt / have bought a house...etc etc. And the thing is, when you get one of those things, the essential you hasn't changed, except that now you need something else to make you happy, to wish for.

Beautifully put as always x

Jenna said...

Amen, amen. I feel like I just figured this out last year and it only took me 25 years to grasp. A quarter of a century wasted on waiting for my happily ever after. I feel so ungrateful admitting this. Heck, I even had found my "Prince Charming" and created two precious little lives with him, yet I was still hoping for tomorrow all the time and never really living for today. Just little things, like "I can't wait until we're out of the newborn stage," "I can't wait to be done with college" and "I can't wait until we can buy a house." The truth is, the I-can't-waits never stop. Just gotta embrace your life as it is and love it.

When I had this epiphany, I came up with a quote: "Discover where you fit and embrace your place." Since abiding by this philosophy I have really found happiness. It is so refreshing to read that other women have made the same self-discoveries.

Erin said...

I whole heartedly love this! I completely agree. I became so much happier when I accepted my life for what is was and appreciated all that I have truly been given.

Rachel said...

I've really experienced that same feeling, post-college. I feel like now what? What's next? I know where I'm living now isn't where I want to live eventually, but I'm stuck here for now, so it really feels like a waiting period. I do need to learn to be content where I am!

victoriafarnsworth said...

Love love LOVE this post! You are so wise! Thank you for your words of wisdom!

Sierra said...

So what I almost cried. LOVE THIS.

Priscilla said...

Just what I needed.

Autumn @ The Unreal Life said...

I absolutely 120% love this. Am in the middle of the same thing myself and need the reassurance. Jump now!