There’s nothing like having a birthday around the corner to make you call everything into question and re-evaluate your life. I mean, it’s not like you figured out world peace or could brag about your EGOT, but up until this point you were generally happy, moderately successful, and the barista at Starbucks almost always spelled your name right, so you had that going for you.
But that was back when that milestone was no bigger than a pyramid in the distance; it fit comfortably in that tangible space between your index finger and your thumb, to be dealt with another day. When you approach it, however, you can no longer deny its significance and are forced to acknowledge it for the monstrosity that it is.
You begin wondering about it all and wondering if it’s all enough. If, in everything that you were doing, you could have done more. If, in your pursuit to become your best self, you shouldn’t have made so many mistakes, allowed for so many distractions. Ultimately, you arrive at the only question that really carries any weight; am I where I’m meant to be or am I missing it somehow?
I am not sure what being a late twenty-something on the verge of eventual thirty-somethingdom is supposed to look like, but in my head it seemed different somehow. By then, you should have it all figured out, I thought. Married, obviously. Bi-coastal, probably. You’ve lived in London for at least a few years (which explains why your kids are British). Your success is outshone only by your happiness, both are validated by the inexhaustible supply of love found in all areas of your life.
But then you get here and it isn’t quite what you thought it’d be. It was harder, somehow. And not as pretty all the time. Sometimes, without warning, the road just ended and you had to forge a path no one else had ever been down nor could vouch for. Sometimes the love didn’t last, and sometimes love just wasn’t enough. Sometimes you just had to let go of the things you thought you’d always hold on to.
And sometimes— most times— you had to renew your mind and set yourself free. Free from heartache, disappointment, sadness, loss, betrayal, pain, regret, failure, setbacks, fear. Those things you never seem to account for when planning out your big, bright future filled with hope and limitless possibility.
But maybe that’s the beauty of it all. Maybe the great thing about not having it all figured out is that you get to figure it out. Only in doing so will you know what it means to have sheer faith for no logical reason. To take a risk that terrifies you and excites you at the same time. To see the pieces of the puzzle fit together in a way far better than you could have ever orchestrated yourself.
You also get to learn what it takes to get up again after you fall. And how, with experience under your belt and a lesson etched in your psyche, you willfully choose to move forward and rise above— stronger, better, more prepared, resilient, and maybe, just the slightest bit more humble.
Because really, that’s what life is. A refining process. And it is only by going through the fire that we can be sure of who we are, what we stand for, what we believe, and what we want. It is also only though this process that we know what is worth fighting for and what we are willing to live without.
And so it is through all these things that I arrived here. ‘Here’, it seems, does not, in fact, look like the ‘here’ I imagined. It’s more beautiful somehow. It’s wise and mature and imperfect. And still quite messy at times. But beautiful all the same.
Sometimes you just have to take a step back from where you’re going to appreciate where you’re at and where you’ve been. In doing so, you realize you are exactly where you are meant to be. And you can’t miss it.