Back in July, I read a post in Living in the Moment called Future Unsure. It really resonated with me, and I bookmarked it so I could some day write my own version of that post. Here I am, just over a month from my 30th birthday, and it seems as good a time as any to tackle that post.
Ten years ago, I was a sophomore in college at Temple College. (Yeah, I was a transfer student to Texas A&M, but I bled maroon from birth.) I’d, luckily, already figured out that I didn’t know everything. I used to joke that at 18 I went blonde literally and figuratively. I’d colored my dark blonde/light brown hair to a bright blonde, and around that same time I felt like I went “stupid.”
Perhaps a big part of that was the fact that I had, thanks to exam exemptions through high school, forgotten how to take tests and, beyond that, I had a general “whatever” attitude regarding my grades in school. They wouldn’t transfer as A’s anyway, so why bother?
Herein lies something I’d tell my going-on-20-self: Just because you might not get to keep credit for a job well done, its no excuse to not do your best. Give everything you do your all. If you give everything your all, you’ll always either succeed with greatness or fail miserably, but you’ll be able to solidly stand behind what you did either way. Giving anything only half-yourself, you’ll always wonder if you could have done better. If you could have been the best of the best as opposed to just running with the crowd.
But, as I said, I knew I didn’t know it all, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t think I had it all figured out. See, I knew I would soon be going to Texas A&M and would graduate with a degree in journalism. I also knew I’d some day live in Nashville, TN. I knew I’d one day throw myself towards the dream of writing a book. I got all those things right on the money!
However, I didn’t know my husband yet. I didn’t know I’d be a “musicians widow.” I didn’t know I’d grow disillusioned by the newspaper business. I didn’t know I could actually enjoy working for my parents bookkeeping and tax business. I didn’t know I’d get myself deep in debt. I didn’t know I’d at any point in life feel unsure of myself. I didn’t know I’d end up a cat person. I didn’t know I’d this deeply wish I’d studied photography. I didn’t know that the path I dreamt of could ever change direction and course… and that I’d actually be more than okay with that fact.
With every thing I didn’t know, I’ve learned a lesson and grown. There is one thing I can say for certain: I don’t have a clue what to expect in the next ten years. If I could tell my 20-year-old self another thing, it wouldn’t be all those details I listed. It would simply be: Keep your goals and your dreams alive and chase them with all your might, but know that nothing is guaranteed except for the many twists and turns along the way towards those dreams.
See, at 20, I was career woman extraordinaire. I had a set path that would take me eventually to NYC for a huge journalism career that would eventually wind around down into Nashville… some day. I would live life in power suits, attending big events, rubbing elbows with all the elite people you’d want to meet.
I’ve traded in my power suits for sweats most days, but I keep a healthy selection of business attire for any number of potential meetings or events. I can say I’ve been blessed to still rub elbows with some of the elite people in the music industry. But I tossed NYC off my list of places to live. I’ve realized I’d not be happy there… I’d love to some day visit, but I don’t think it would fit me to live there.
I have a much more down to Earth view of myself. So in the next 10 years, my goals are for us to have a beautiful family, be as debt-free as possible, and to make a solid living with my writing and photography while my husband continues to tickle the ivories for a living. Those are sensible goals and dreams, leaving plenty of opportunity to chase any number of possibilities as they come along the way. Leaving myself room for adventure, learning and growth.
So to my 20 year old self and my 30 year old self: keep the dream, but realize you might not get there along the exact path you think… you’ll get there along the path you’re meant to take, complete with joys, sadness, successes and failures. Embrace that fact, and simply LIVE.