There are days I feel like I’m viewing the world through a tunnel. Days when I can hear my footsteps echoing empty behind me with each step I try to take forward, somehow never getting any closer to that welcoming daylight at the end of whatever burrow I seem to have been hiding in for so long.
I want to be able to squint my eyes against the sun, to feel the warmth on my face. To just get the hell on with my life and do the things that I feel bubbling on the surface of my skin, trying so hard to pierce through me so that they can finally feel the air they’ve been longing to breathe—dreams realized and longings that would no longer have to rely on hope.
The truth is that at twenty-six years old, I have those days where I wonder if my life has truly begun.
I look around me, at those I rolled around in the grass with during a childhood not so long ago, and start to feel a tightness in my chest. I scroll through social media and take in the plethora of posts which feature around engagement rings and wedding gowns, around ultrasounds and toddlers with their huge smiling faces angled wide in the camera’s lens. I see the faces of my former classmates, beaming and joyful and proud, and think to myself: What am I doing wrong?
The answer to that ever-present question, the one that hangs over my head much more often than I’d like to admit, is that I’m not actually doing anything wrong. The answer to that question, when I’m able to let go of all the anxiety that surrounds being a “real” adult, is that I’m simply living my life the best way I know how.
One basic fact that all of us millennials need to wrap our egos around is that everyone lives their lives differently. We’ve been so programmed by previous generations to think that there’s only one way to create a life. That we all need that one job, that one soulmate, that perfect new baby and the brand new house in the suburbs.
We think we need those things so that we can document them and show them to other people, so that we can present all of the accomplishments that we’ve wrapped up neatly to prove our adulthood, to show that we are living a full life.
But what I’m beginning to learn is that the prepackaged life of previous generations does not have to necessarily be mine. Sure, I want all of those things, but in my own way and in my own time. I’ve started to admit to myself that I’ve never done things the conventional way. After all, I was the little girl who played in the dirt and climbed trees, the teenager who rejected high heels and the conventional “dream” prom that every girl is supposed to want. I’ve always done things my own way and I’ll continue to do so.
I refuse to let that tight feeling in my chest fester and form an ugly hole inside of me, refuse to let that tunnel swallow me before I exit into the light. I don’t really need to travel any further to reach it because I already embody it. I am the light and I take it with me wherever I travel, with each step I take in this life that may be unconventional but is still mine.
Throughout the time you’re wandering this earth, breathing and seeing and hearing and celebrating, for each moment you are blissfully present and alive, you don’t have to worry about waiting for your life to start. You’re already living it and you always have been.
You’ll live a thousand lives in the one life you’ve been given, will begin again at so many different points and in so many different ways. So relish each beautiful second, the way I am now as I sit at my desk with the windows wide open, the breeze coming through and the promise of spring fresh in the air.
Know that whatever path you’re on is your own, that nothing has ever been a preface to what is already yours. Stop waiting for your life to begin; you’re already living it.