When I listen to Hold Me Now by Wayne Wonder, I’m transported to a sandy white beach in Cuba. I’m 17 years old and I’m about to write a poem about a English boy I met in the pool a few days ago. I’m sitting on a dark blue beach chair; my sister, aunt, and cousin are lounging nearby. My lime green notebook is resting on my lap, waiting patiently for my pen to do something about its blank pages. It’s overcast this early morning, but the sun promises to make an appearance in the afternoon. The wind coming off of the water is surprisingly warm, and every time I look down to write, I can see my hair dancing in tandem with the sounds coming out of my MP3 player.
I turn 32 next month, and even though it’s been 14 years, I still remember that trip. I remember Jamie and his drool-worthy accent. I remember how tall and handsome he was. I remember making up fantasies about him meeting me in Canada because I watched too many rom coms as a teen. What I remember even more than his accent is how young, optimistic, and alive I felt. I remember how real and possible all of my dreams seemed. I was determined that my future would be filled with travel, romance, passion, and words.
As a grown-ass-woman, I know that you don’t always get what you want and dreams are a lot harder to come true than the movies would have you think. I also know that dreams can come true on a smaller scale.
I am proud of my life. I have a steady job and a fantastic husband who makes me feel loved, safe, and beautiful. I have a few close and wonderful friends, I have time to write, I live in a small yet comfortable condo very close to Toronto, I have traveled and plan on doing more when the time is right, and I actively practice gratitude by listing all of this in my head before bed. There is nothing wrong with my life, and yet I can’t help but wonder if something is missing.
Here I am, filing my taxes, working hard, paying my bills, working out, eating healthy(ish), taking my Sertraline every evening, trying to balance my life and anxiety, trying be a better human in my everyday interactions, and I still don’t know if I’m doing any of this right.
I feel like an imposter, as though I don’t belong in the life I’ve actively created (and love). I often wonder what happened to that 17-year-old who thought anything was possible. Who believed in big romances and bigger dreams. The girl who thought she would live a big life—meet all kinds of people, see the world, and write all about it. I know she got scared. She turned down many opportunities that could have changed her life—some of them haunt her at night. But we all have regret and if this year has taught her anything, it’s that she can start taking risks whenever she wants.
At my age, many would suggest that what’s missing is a baby. The truth is that I don’t want to have children; not now and maybe not ever. It’s a decision that brings boatloads of anxiety. I have two beautiful nieces and plenty of babies in my extended family. Even though I love them, there are things that I want to do sans offspring. My sister was very young when she had her children, so I got to see how much your life must change to raise them. I am not ready for that. I still want to travel, to write novels, to be selfish.
Not wanting children comes with it’s own set of questions. What if I never want children? Is there something fundamentally wrong with me as a woman? What if I start wanting them when it’s too late? Is it selfish to not give my mother-in-law the only grandchildren she might have? If I don’t have kids, what else will I do with my life?
Most of the time I just feel like I’m floating to the next level of a video game and I’m not sure where to go next. Life, am I doing this right?