August 20, 2013 by thegirlnextdoorisblack
Life moves quickly.
When I was a kid time seemed boundless. I imagine it’s how time seems to a dog. Every second between chowtime may as well be centuries. When I wasn’t outside with my friends playing cops and robbers, jumping rope, chalk-painting the sidewalks and buying candy at the corner store, my dad wanted me to study. IN THE SUMMER. During study sessions, time seemed interminable! I’ve learned enough math, Daddy! When can I go play with my friends agaaaaain?! [I am, of course, now very grateful that my dad put such an emphasis on education, but at six, my focus sure wasn't on vocabulary.]
If I Were a Boy
I couldn’t wait to turn 13! I was going to be a “woman”! Of course, all it took was my first bout of agonizing cramps, lying on my bed immobilized, feeling like I was being punished for some unidentified transgression, when I realized that being a woman ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I was sold a shit bill of goods. Whose idea was this brand of nonsense? If this is what womanhood is about, you can have it back! I’ll take the other body part please; I’ll learn how to pee standing up!
I’m Gonna Be the Most Popular Girl
I daydreamed about what life would be like in high school, which seemed so very far away in junior high. Filled with pop culture imagery, I envisioned being popular, having a cute boyfriend and hanging out with my cool friends, riding around in my convertible. I’d be one of the kids a Daniel Laruso-type wanted to hang with. [None of these things happened.] By the time I got to my senior year, I was over it. That last year of high school seemed never-ending because high school is some bullshit. It sucked. I was ready for college. At 18 I felt quite above being in the same school as 14-year old children. They can’t even vote! It was also clear as day that my parents were trying to ruin my swag with all their restrictions; I needed to get the hell out of their house, ASAP. I marked down the days on the calendar until I could leave for college. Of course, my parents were just trying to protect me, but it’s the age old battle between teens and parents for independence. Again, time dragged.
Man, I Love College
College seemed like what life was all about. College delivered where high school was a big loser. I learned a lot, had a ridiculous amount of fun and experienced things I never had before. Life was full of promise and opportunity. By senior year, again, I was eager to enter the real world and get shit started. I was moving to Los Angeles with my mind-set on being a successful actress, planning to hobnob with celebrities, date my hot co-stars, go to fabulous cast parties, be photographed in magazines and as a testament to my success I’d be interviewed by Oprah. (They say to “dream big,” right?)
When I Grow Up (Garbage version)
My 20s went by in a blur. Between 25 and 30, time seemed to triple in speed. In my late 20s as the big, bad, dirty 30 neared, I had a serious crisis of faith. Most of my college friends and fellow business majors had spent 5+ years building their careers, many had gotten married and several had started families. The three years I spent pursuing acting seemed like a waste to me. My peers were going on fancy trips, buying their first homes, going to grad school, talking about 401ks and life insurance and I was doing…what? Nothing I was proud of. I was in a pit of self-pity.
I enjoy reading autobiographies and stories about other’s lives. They are fascinating and often inspirational. I’d read bios detailing all the incredible things other people have achieved in their lives and feel like I’d done nothing worth bragging about. I eventually realized that I wasn’t being fair to myself or giving myself enough credit for all that I had done, seen and overcome. After giving self-props, I focused on the trajectory of my life for the next few years. What did I want to achieve, see, and do? Who did I want to become? Yes, I created a vision board. Make fun if you like, but I’ve been able to strike through a lot of things on that vision board because I’ve achieved them. I need to start writing the fake checks to myself in larger amounts.
Praying for Time
These days, time hurtles by like it’s in a foot race with an Olympic sprinter. As all this time zooms by, I often ask myself if I’m using it wisely. When I was younger, it seemed like I had my entire life ahead of me, but one day I woke up and years had passed and I don’t know where the time went. You have to live life deliberately. It’s all too easy to put things off, only to find one day you’ve lost precious time that you can’t recover.
I have a very active imagination and always have an eye toward the future. Age 40 is closer than I care for – according to my dad, I’m “pushing 40” and I’m not even on the other side of 35! – and 40 seems a good age to set as a milestone for progress. Now, as I take stock of my life and envision what I’d like to achieve, see and do by then, I find myself at a complete loss. If there’s one important lesson I’ve learned about life in my 30+ years, it’s that it’s full of surprises. I may set the framework for what I hope for in my life, but the actual content is harder to predict and I’m mostly okay with that. Some aspects have unfolded in ways I would never have imagined. I would not have predicted that I’d live in Los Angeles for over a decade, quickly tire of Hollywood shenanigans, dump my starving artist life and return to the world of business. I wouldn’t have guessed that today I’d be single, childfree and living in San Francisco working for a tech startup. I enjoy and appreciate my life, but it’s not the one I thought I’d have. At 22, I thought by now – mostly due to the narratives we’re told through books, visual media and society – that I’d be married, have a couple of kids (a boy and a girl, of course) and have a high-powered job doing something worthwhile. I don’t know what’s next though.
A common questions asked by employers is “What is your five-year plan?”, I barely know what I want to do next year! When I attempt to write the story of what life will be like for me at 40, I come up blank. I’m still on the fence about having kids. Some days I want to, other days I don’t and time isn’t on my side, Halle Berry’s amazing uterus notwithstanding. [Though, if I do decide to remain childfree, San Francisco is apparently the best place to do so!] I am realistic enough to consider that I may not find that life partner to share my future with and I have to account for that in my vision. Even my past dreams of owning a home are up in the air. I no longer think about owning a home in the suburbs because the word “suburb” scares me. I don’t know what kind of job I want or in what field. I’d love to live outside of the United States in France or Brazil or many other places and travel the world meeting interesting people and having stimulating experiences. I’d like to be fluent in at least one other language. There is a long list of things I’d like to accomplish, but no comprehensive futuristic story.
For now I’ve come up with simply this:
When I’m 40, I want:
- to be happy;
- to feel proud of my accomplishments;
- to continue having awe-inspiring, thought-provoking experiences;
- to continue learning;
- to feel like I’m progressing as a person;
- to have love in my life, whether that be the love of family and friends or them + life partner and children.;
- to keep traveling internationally (and domestically);
- a dog (and for my current beloved pet to be around and kicking in his geriatric years).
Whatever it takes to get to achieve these things, I’ll set the stage and life can flesh out the script and fill in the cast of characters. My job is to stay focused on my goals and remember as often as I can, not to take the days for granted. Time isn’t going to slow down for me.