“So, what are you doing with your life?”
There it is. The most dreaded of questions. The kind of question that makes you avoid certain social situations and trips to the local grocery store for fear of seeing someone who might stop you to ask:
What exactly have you become, now that you’ve grown up?
On the imagined timeline of your life, you had it all planned out – every milestone in chronological order, marked by a neat little dot, exactly when and where it was supposed to happen. Sure, you might be a little bit confused when you graduated from High School, but in College it would all come together. You would find yourself. You would find your passion. You would go on to get your Masters, hell, maybe even you PhD, because you would love what you were doing THAT MUCH.
Your career would take off. You would fall in love with someone that you met on some Tuesday afternoon in a coffee shop or on the subway. It would be so perfectly random (albeit cliché) that neither of you would ever grow tired of telling the story. You would get married and have children. You would have all of these concrete ways of measuring your success.
No one ever told you that life is rude and would have zero respect for your timeline. No one ever told you that things rarely, if ever, go according to plan. They forgot to mention all of the time that you would spend being heartbroken over the people you would lose along the way. They forgot to mention that the line between ‘forever’ and ‘never again’ is so thin that you would step over it more times than you could ever imagine.
No one ever told you that you would never stop growing, that you would never stop changing. How the things that you wanted yesterday might not be the same things you want today, and that tomorrow you might want something else entirely. They never told you how other people can change their minds just as quickly and as easily as you change your own, and how even worse – they’re allowed to do so.
No one ever told you how, like changing your clothes, you would have to put on many different versions of yourself – trying to find one that fits, trying to find one that you can actually stand looking at in the mirror every morning. They forgot to mention that someday you might be so confused that you won’t be able to find the words to answer a question as simple as, “So, what are you doing with your life?”
No one ever told you that someday you would have to make the painful transition from the person you always thought you would be, into the person that you actually are.
They forgot to mention that when you find yourself at this stage, the most important thing to do, the only thing to do, is to learn to love yourself.
Love yourself with the wholeness and the certainty with which you love your best friend.
Imagine she called you in the middle of the night, sobbing over life’s latest let-down.
You listen to her. You are kind and patient with her. You tell her that you understand. You tell her that she is smart, that she is beautiful, that she is capable, and that she deserves only the best. You remind her of all of her accomplishments and you remind her of all of the hardships that she has already overcome. You tell her that she will be okay, that it will all work out. And you believe it. You believe in her.
Imagine what could happen if you told yourself these things.
Imagine what could happen if you let yourself believe them.