From a very young age, I had my entire life planned out.
I was going to be married by twenty-one, have children by twenty-two, live in a big house with that white picket fence and be deliriously and obnoxiously happy. The kind of happiness that people get jealous and repulsed by. That was my dream, and it was going to happen.
Until it didn’t.
In tenth grade, we were assigned a project to create our future budget, wedding, household, and children. As I imagined my life, it all seemed so simple and routine. Which, given my traumatic childhood, was amazing. I had the perfect life on paper, and I was determined for it to come true.
Then, twenty-one came and went. I wasn’t married or engaged; hell, I was barely in a relationship.
Twenty-two popped up, and no babies popped out. Still not married and nowhere close to living in that big house. I was so ashamed and angry that I was not where I thought I would be.
Now, here I sit at the age of twenty-eight. Single, childless, living with my dad and my brother, and barely scraping by. The disappointment was real.
I was disappointed in myself for not being able to snag a good man, for wasting my time on failed relationships, and for putting my life on hold to save other people. It was hard, and I was frustrated. I felt like I was failing because I could feel a clock ticking. But every birthday that passed, I found myself getting more and more stuck.
My friends were getting married, having kids, buying homes. All the things I dreamed about at night and wished for on all the shooting stars and 11:11 wishes.
Honestly? I was jealous.
I started to rush my own relationships. I swiped right on all the boys, cycling through all the dating apps. I was scaring people away because I wanted commitment so quickly. I could see myself sabotaging things, but I could not stop. I wanted this elusive life so bad, and I needed the disappointment to go away. I was determined to make that life happen, but in being so stubborn, I was ruining everything.
Then one day, I stopped. I looked in the mirror and saw my tear-stained face and eyes that looked like they hadn’t slept in days. The look I defined as a complete and utter failure. In that same moment, I saw my dual diplomas, photos of my family, and my work prep in the reflection, only to realize my self-deprecating thoughts were so wrong.
I had not failed, and I was not a disappointment. Sure, I may not be married or have the family I want yet. But that doesn’t mean that I failed. That doesn’t make me a failure or a loser.
I had worked my ass off to accomplish a degree while suffering from mental and physical illnesses.
I have an incredible family filled with love and devotion.
I have a fulfilling job working with the greatest kids ever.
I am a fighter, and for that, I need to be proud.
I used to think that not having a perfect life meant that I was doing something wrong. But I never considered that any life you’re living is perfect because you’re in it. Learning to live and thrive within myself has changed not only my outlook but my entire life.
It has made me happier, stronger, and more content.
It has shown me that being single, childless, renting instead of buying—whatever your life looks like is completely and totally okay.
I may not have the life I thought I would at this point in time, but I have the life I love, and for that, the world continues to turn.
My time will come, my life will continue to flourish, and I will never be failing.