I’ve recently realized that I have – on some level – been making decisions based on the belief that I am “too old.” I know, I know… I can just see your eyes rolling. At the age of 23 I do understand that I am still very young. I most likely have many years of life ahead of me and I still have a lot of opportunities. But, somewhere, on my way to this stage in my life, I picked up these ideas about which opportunities I have passed up (never to encounter again) and where I “should” be in life by now. Two of the biggest examples of this (the ones that have affected me the most) are these:
- I’m supposed to get married in my early-to-mid-20′s and therefore should already be in a serious relationship that is heading in that direction.
- Continuing my education, other than just getting some kind of certification, is out of the question because I’m too old. Most of my peers already have their Bachelor’s Degree or beyond at my age. All I can do now is work.
I didn’t really realize for a long time that I had been actually thinking those things. And, honestly, typing those thoughts out, knowing that people will read them is kind of embarrassing. But, I feel like this kind of thinking is quite common. We have these ideas of where we should be and what we should be doing once we’ve reached certain ages and when we pass those ages, we think we’ve missed something. We think it’s too late.
This wrong thinking (along with a few other things) greatly contributed to a sort of “waiting around,” kind of lifestyle that I’ve found myself in during the last couple of years. I lived believing that the next step in my life was to become a wife and mother and I was just trying to “sit tight” until the right guy came along. I lived a life forbidding myself to have any ambition or dreams as a single woman, thinking that my every step should be toward being a good wife and I should aim to rid myself of this “single” status [Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe that fulfilling the roles of wife and mother would be a tremendous blessing and those roles are such high callings from God. These are roles that I wish were more valued and appreciated in our society. But there is something very wrong with putting time limits (or age limits) on these things. And there is something even more wrong with living a life solely focused on those roles]. I had set my vision of the future on this rigid path and would not allow myself to look around at other paths that might actually be a better way for me. And so I stifled those desires, that drive to do something more, without looking to see if pursuing those things might actually be the best road for my life. It made me much more willing to settle, which is almost never a good thing.
I’ve found that we operate on these arbitrary standards based (most likely) on the “average” or what we see most around us. I think we forget that reality is more complicated than that. Life doesn’t happen the same way for everyone and I don’t really understand why that would be considered a bad thing. Can we really say that Person A has a better life or better life circumstances than Person B, because Person A got married at 25, while person B got married at 45? Or because Person A finished school at 22 while Person B finished at 29? I think that most people would acknowledge the absurdity of that thinking, but we still often live with that kind of mindset. There is no magic number. There isn’t even a magic formula (you can live a content and happy life without a degree or a spouse, too!). Everyone’s life story is different and I think there is something astoundingly beautiful and interesting about that.
[Life update for those who are interested: due to this and a few other "revelations" so-to-speak and after much thought and prayer, I have come to the decision to go back to school to get my Bachelor's Degree. It's very scary for me, but I'm pretty excited about it! It's going to take a while, but I think I am at a good place in my life to do this. I have much more ambition than I had before. I'm hoping to major in Linguistics - though, I might have to start out majoring in English due to some complications - and minor in Asian Studies with a focus in Korean :) There are so many possibilities for the future and I am excited to get started!]