I thought I would’ve been married by now.
After all, 27 seemed like a ripe, old age back when I was 16. Back then, my view of my future fit a cookie-cutter mold: graduate high school at 18, graduate college at 22, work for four years and save up enough money to get me my own place and maybe my own car, then get married by 26. So if my sixteen-year-old self had her way, I’d be celebrating my first wedding anniversary by now.
But eleven years later, I am light years away from my sixteen-year-old self and realizing that life is not so simple, after all.
That four years into a job, you realize that “Fun that happens to be work! (and the prerequisite ‘I can’t believe I’m being paid to do this!’)” does turn into “Work that happens to be fun.” And it’s up to you to keep the fun alive so that it doesn’t turn into “Work is just something I have to do to survive.”
That after years of chugging down mug after mug of coffee, staying awake for over 24 hours, surviving on an hour’s worth of sleep a day, and filling your body with fast-food in every imaginable form, your health really does catch up with you and your body demands better treatment.
That after all the heartaches in your life, all of The Ones that turned out to be flukes and good-for-nothings that you wasted your tears over, you realize (however belatedly) that piecing together the broken pieces of your heart has made you stronger and wiser in the ways of love. Peter Cetera was right when he said, “The next time I fall in love, I’ll know better what to do.” Because, if we learn our lessons well, we really do.
That nothing in life is perfect. There is no perfect job, no perfect friendship, no perfect family, no perfect relationship. And no matter how hard you try, it will never be perfect. So it’s always best to just love what it is instead of wishing for what it isn’t.
That it’s okay to admit that you don’t like people. Because there are also probably tons of people in the world who aren’t crazy about you too. You don’t have to like everyone you know, and you don’t have to be liked by everyone you know. Choose to surround yourself with the people who wish you the best, instead of those who are bent on pulling you down.
That mentors are important. Without mentors and the guidance of people who are older than yourself, you find yourself floating along, not really sure where all this will take you. Annoying as it may sound, they’ve been there and done that.
That you have to choose your battles and set your priorities. Not everything is worth getting stressed over, not everyone is worth convincing, not all opinions need to be addressed, not all activities are worth your time. And for the people and activities that are worth it, you don’t find the time– you make it.
That love isn’t measured by the number of times you see each other in a week, the number of phone calls you make or texts you receive, or the number of things you do together. Love is about how you value, respect, and trust each other, how you commit to loving this person each and every day, how you find ways to make each other smile, how you always say “Thank you” for every little thing you do for each other, and how you know in your heart that the sun shines a little bit brighter and the world seems better whenever they’re around.
I may not be the 27-year-old that I imagined myself to be at 16—I haven’t bought my own home or even a second-hand car, and I’m in a relationship that may still be a few years away from marriage—but through the years I’ve learned that the simple things in life are really more than enough for me.
I look forward to eating in restaurants that always make me happy, never mind that they’re nothing fancy. I look forward to sleeping in, watching TV, and curling up with a good book on weekends. I look forward to making new friends and going on new adventures. And I look forward to more laughter, more blessings, and more love, even if my life is already filled with so much more than I could wish for. All at the ripe, old age of 27.