When I was 5, I wanted to be a cashier in a grocery store. I thought it would be a great and lucrative career because clearly, you spent your entire day collecting money and at the end, you got to take it home. Cha-ching.
When I was 8, I wanted to buy a motorhome. I was going to drive around the country in my motorhome. I would bring Grandmama with me. And my dog. (My dog was a Dalmatian named Dottie and I loved her very much.) We were going to ride around in the motorhome and I was going to drink orange juice and Grandmama was going to drink coffee. Nobody else was invited because they were all a bunch of chumps.
When I was 12 I wanted to marry Brandon Trotter.
When I was 14, I wanted to be a marine biologist.
When I was 16 I wanted to be an actress and a veterinarian.
When I was 18 I stopped knowing what I wanted to be. And that’s when I went to college. (For the first time.)
The point of this list is to illustrate a couple of things. First, I’ve always been flighty. Second, I’m not good at following through on plans. Or maybe I don’t make good plans. Or maybe the plans I make aren’t the things I really want but instead are the things I think I should want.
I don’t know.
Here’s what I do know. When I was in college, I got very involved in a Christian sorority (discussed awesomely here). And I started reading Christian romance novels, which might be the most embarrassing thing ever admitted on this here blog to you there people. And that’s coming from the girl who showed you her middle school pictures. Anyway, I’d read a new book and then sit for hours daydreaming of the life I wanted to have.
So let’s play a game called Things I Would Be Doing Now, If Other Things Had Gone According To Plan. (While we’re playing, if you think of a better, more shorter name for this game, I’m all ears.)
Things I Would Be Doing Now, If Other Things Had Gone According To Plan.
If my life had gone according to my plan, right now I would be on my 7th year of marriage. I would have at least 3 kids, all of them boys, and we’d be playing a LOT of baseball. I would be a stay-at-home-mom and would spend my days cooking, cleaning, and homeschooling. Most importantly, I’d be submitting to my husband who would of course be a very Godly man, the spiritual leader of our household. I’d go to church a few times a week and maybe teach a bible study. Perhaps my husband would be a minister. I’d pray often, unceasingly, and go on family roadtrips during which we’d listen to Christian talk radio, praise and worship music, and country.
I’m not saying that life wouldn’t have been great. I am saying that life wouldn’t have made me happy because it wasn’t really who I was. It’s who I was trying to be. I am so thankful that I didn’t get what I so badly wanted because in the end, it would have all fallen apart. How long can you actually pretend to be someone you’re not?
Here’s what I got instead:
I’m not much, honestly. I don’t mean that in a blah blah low self-esteem, gonna go cry into my flat iron and black mascara sort of way. I just mean that I’m not a bunch of big things. I’m not 3 kids, a husband, a large house, etc. I’m just a girl who has spent the last few years learning how to be honest, how to have relationships, and how to love myself. And I haven’t even learned all of that yet. I’m just working on it.
My life might not look how I always pictured; most of the plans I made fell through. But it’s the stuff that comes after the plan falls apart, the stuff that surprises you, that makes it all totally worth it. I didn’t get married at 22 but I had my first very important relationship at 24. He and I didn’t end up together but I did survive my first broken heart and experience the sort of sadness that propels you to make Bigger, More Different Plans. I moved to Seattle and discovered what it means to be brave. I had my second very important relationship in which I learned about happiness and honesty and communication and, ultimately, letting go.
Letting go is my new favorite. I’ve spent years planning my life, only to see things change unexpectedly. Then I scramble to make a new plan and the cycle continues. Plan, change, plan, change. . . plans change. I’m finished with that. I’m breaking up with planning. I’m going to try just living for a little while, without a timeline, without a next step, without planning every little thing. I’m going to see what it’s like to just let go and let the universe take over.
Let that guy handle things for a bit. I’ll be over here having fun.
How about you guys? Where would your life be if you got what you wanted when you were 22?