“I think, too often, we spend our time comparing our lives to everyone else’s. Society has given us a mindset of being on a crunch for time. Social media and its false portrayal of reality often cause us to feel like we are too far ahead or are slacking behind. We look at celebrities in envy, comparing our bodies, goals, and luxuries with theirs. We look at certain individuals, friends, enemies, sisters, brothers, idols, and consider them more attractive, deserving, or intelligent. We wonder, ‘Why can’t I get there?’
We’re looking to compete with the person next to us instead of working to better ourselves. We look at other people and determine how successful we are on our totem pole based on where they are on theirs. Trying to get to the next phase of life. Trying to make a deadline. Trying to make something work that isn’t working because it just isn’t the right time, and we feel like we’re drowning because we’ve been made to feel like it has to be NOW.
But who really makes up these deadlines? Why are we in such a hurry? Sure, we only get so many years in a life, but it’s not an hourglass. What kind of life would we live if we had constant anxiety about how much of it we had left? Who put a date and time on when and how you figure out what’s best for you? Who set barriers and roadblocks for when something can/should happen? Who decided what a ‘normal’ life is?
We turn 18, and we immediately start to feel rushed. Graduation, college, career, marriage, house, kids. Let’s cram it all in before we have time to truly enjoy a single moment. Then we creep up on 30, and it’s like, ‘Oh, now your biological clock is ticking.’ ‘So, when is your baby coming?’ ‘When is your NEXT baby coming?’ ‘Why are you waiting so long for this and for that?’
And we can’t win, because even when we think we have it all together, there are judgments and questions. ‘Don’t you want to go to college?’ ‘What is taking you so long?’ ‘Now, make sure you get educated in something that matters!’ As if the career goals we’ve set for ourselves simply aren’t going to keep us afloat later in life. ‘Why do you have such a high degree but no job?’ ‘Why do you stay home with your kids? You must just not want to work.’
‘Why do you have so many kids? Do you not know what birth control is?’ Some women want big families, some women struggle to have even one baby. Some simply don’t have a desire for children at all. It’s really not up for discussion. Life goals, decisions, and the way they happen are not anyone’s business but your own. More often than not, the judgment and critiquing are coming from someone who didn’t meet a single endeavor of their own. So, don’t take it to heart. There’s unsolicited advice and expectations from people who really don’t even matter, but we try to see their point of view because we care. We’re human.
So many people are unsatisfied with their current place in life because of timing. Not because of actual time itself, but because someone else, at some point in their life, has set their standards for when the right time actually is. Try to remember as long as you are living your life to the fullest, you are in the right place, doing the right thing.
If doing what you are doing right now, at this moment, makes you happy, then do it. If you are working toward something you want, do so without worrying about whether or not your best friend has already done it. Do so without concerning yourself with what people will think or how they will react if it doesn’t make its ‘deadline.’ Stop marking your calendar. Stop anticipating. Stop racing through life with other people in mind. Think about yourself. Have a little faith in yourself and have grace because you will have setbacks, and mountains to climb.
You will have to start over a thousand times. And maybe a thousand more. But you will climb them. Trust your goals. Trust your plans. YOUR plans. This is your life. This is your happiness. This is your time. Don’t ever let anyone take away, put a schedule on, or make assumptions about that time. You decide your life. You make it happen, and you’ll make it happen when you believe it should.
Some people will say negative things to you. They will say negative things about you. They’ll knock your goals every chance they get. They’ll make you feel beneath them or not good enough. That is when it’s important to remember it isn’t about them. This is your journey. Run with it. Or walk. However YOU are most comfortable getting there, as long as you are happy.
I adore my life. I have never been Superwoman with timing, but I definitely stumbled across my husband at what couldn’t have been a better, more complicated time in my life. I was busy. I was barely 20 and in college. I was preoccupied with the chaos. And to say I was not remotely mature enough for a serious relationship would have been an understatement. And, oh boy, could I tell you some stories about my anxiety back then.
I’m thankful for my husband because he wasn’t all about the ‘timing.’ He was all about when I was ready. I wouldn’t have done many of the things I’ve done without his encouragement. I’m thankful for my beautiful children, who show me every day that time spent savoring the moment really is what means the most. Between all the plates I spin and the frenzy I work myself into, it’s my babies who continue to teach me the true value of things falling into place at the right moment.
My health is something I’ve learned to embrace because it hasn’t been the greatest. I’m proud of our lovely home. It’s ours, and it’s warm. It’s welcoming comfort, jam-packed with toys coated in sticky handprints and animal cracker crumbs. I’m blessed to be surrounded daily by incredible people who motivate me when I don’t feel so motivated. I’m fortunate to hold an education I am proud of and to live in a world where I can write and speak freely because it’s what I absolutely love to do.
But, it took me a long time to understand my timing wasn’t based on everyone else’s. I am almost 28 years old, and there are still so many things I want to do and see. I spent years struggling to try to figure out my path. Trying to shed the stress other people had put on me to do things, to be things, I just absolutely couldn’t at the time. I spent a lot of time being frustrated with myself because things weren’t happening in this picture-perfect way. But when I took a step back, I realized the picture-perfect way wasn’t actually mine. It was often someone else’s. It was often something I had simply grown familiar to hearing, or seeing, not figuring out myself.
I will pursue the rest of my goals, my dreams, and my future. I will do more of the things I want to do. It may not be today, and it may not be next week. I will probably make a huge mess, and it won’t go as I planned. But I will laugh. I will still love who I am regardless of the off-road challenges. I was told after my first son was born it was in my best interest to not have any more children due to an unexpected diagnosis of MS and the way my body was ‘malfunctioning.’ Guess what? I had another baby. Someone up there clearly thought differently about the plans another person had for me.
I want to share this mindset with others because I see the shame and burden of high expectations so often. It’s unfortunately become a cruel reality that can really hurt people. Life is valuable, but it is only going to appear that way if you value your life, and that value comes from YOUR happiness. It’s okay to take it one day at a time. Some of the greatest accomplishments in the world come from weeks, months, and even years of preparation and perseverance. And most of all, belief in a dream. Don’t ever let someone else put a time stamp on that dream.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Claypool of Life Unscripted. Follow her journey on Instagram here and her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Molly here:
‘Why bother?’ She asks herself. ‘Why put myself through it all again this month.’ She walks past this test in Target, and gives it a doubtful glance.’: Woman urges those battling infertility ‘you are not broken’ in viral pregnancy test post
Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends.