Youth is wasted on the young. The exact quote from George Bernard Shaw is:
“Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.”
This is something I am acknowledging more and more each day. I somehow didn’t appreciate this statement when I first heard it. But like most popular phrases it speaks the truth.
I am currently at the ripe old age of thirty-four and I feel like this year I have been living my life to it’s fullest. As a chronic migraine patient I have spent the last few years focused on nothing but my health. Well actually that isn’t true. I was focused on all of the dreams floating around in my head between bats of excruciating pain. In truth I feel like I was Sleeping Beauty but instead of a prince’s kiss, Botox was the key to unlocking me from my slumber.
As more time passes this year the more I am realizing how much I was living in a fugue like state. I feel like whatever I did the last few years happened to someone else. I have vague memories of certain events but I mostly feel like there is a gap between my late twenties until the present time. Whoever that lady was, she didn’t include me in her plans. What’s worse is that I can’t seem to recall any specifics of my life no matter how hard I try. I even feel like looking through my closest I see shoes and clothes I haven’t worn in forever and don’t know why. Technically I was alive and “in my right mind” but now I know my inner self had retreated so that I could just focus on functioning on a basic level. Pain and stress do funny things to your body and your mind will protect you however it can. I suppose I am grateful for this but I still feel like I have a lot of making up to do, which is how I arrived at this blog.
After I graduated college at twenty-one and went on to grad school for the next two years I was sure I knew all I had to about life. As most twenty year olds do, I was POSITIVE I had the job I wanted, the relationship that would last forever, and even knew myself down deep into my soul. It turns out I DIDN’T HAVE A CLUE. I remember those years, repeating the phrase “your twenties are for finding yourself” and thinking what the hell does that mean? What could I possibly need to learn about life that I didn’t know already? It seemed like something Oprah would say to people who were not me.
It turns out I am a liar. Worse than that, I lied to myself and believed whatever I told myself hook, line, and sinker. So of course I didn’t know a damn thing in my twenties. I was just another young woman thinking I had life by the balls without the slightest idea what was in store for me. Rather it was like I was living in a glass house and the ceiling was starting to have a lot of cracks in it.
I don’t know what happened first but there were several life changing events that occurred during those years that changed everything about me, how I behaved, how I thought, how I lived, and how I loved. Once it began I didn’t think it would ever end. To say that growing pains are painful puts it mildly.
After all of my education, breaking up with the guy who wasn’t the love of my life anymore, dealing with a dear friends and family member’s severe illnesses, sent me in a whole different direction. At the time I felt like it was a tailspin but when you aren’t seeing the whole picture you can’t quite process what you are learning until after you have had some time to recover. I know that all of these events made me stronger, smarter, and who I am today. I can’t forget to also mention my casual migraines became my new BFF and didn’t leave my side for as long as thirty-one days, at my worst period.
In a moment of irony I just remembered being in a Barnes and Noble about a hundred years ago when I was working at my summer job during my college years. I found a book called “The Quarter Life Crisis”. I thought I totally related to it though I never actually bought or read the book. It seems I was about ten years off from that being true.
I hate to think this, but I think college were the best years of my life. If not the best, since I don’t know what is yet to come, they were certainly the foundation of who I would be come, the people that would be my family even after I graduated, and some of the freaking funniest moments of my life. No matter what I think of I always get a smile on my face. That is not because there weren’t trying times but rather that there were far more happy moments that I am happy to be able to reflect upon. Even if who I was laughing with are no longer in my life, I still cherish those moments. Those people were in my life then for a reason. There was enough craziness for some amazing stories that I am still bragging about. There are the things I still can’t believe happened, and those things I was able to escape from. I completed my entire college bucket list without ever knowing I would need that comfort later on in life.
After college and moving back home my life was radically different. But as my twenties came to an end my chronic migraine illness took off right after the significant life events I mentioned above had calmed down. It was like my body was on lock down from the inside out. In a flash there were no more happy hours, or alcoholic beverages of any kind for over six years. There were no late nights or going out on the weekends if I managed to work all week, which wasn’t even very likely. Before I knew it, the battle of my health would subside and I would be over thirty.
Lately I have been thinking that I am lucky I got all of my partying days out when I had the chance. I was never the girl dancing on the bar but my friends sure were. I was the girl that managed to go to MTV Spring Break and come back without disease or having a picture of myself with a black bar across my chest on Page Six.
I was never going to be a woman who panicked that I wasn’t married or had kids by the time my thirtieth birthday rolled around. I was still trying to live a “normal” life and I still feel way too young for that. There is too much of my life I want to live before I am ready. But I have confidence that the family I want, I will have. The love I deserve will come when I am ready and in the right place. There are still sooo many places to go. I feel confident that I have done a significant amount of things others haven’t even thought of yet. Then I go online.
There are more lists of “What you should know by 30” or where you should have traveled by 20” to make a person go postal on themselves. But I can never resist the urge to click on the link. I want to make sure there isn’t some random piece of information that I could put to good use. More often than not I am just irritated because it’s something I already know, did, or wouldn’t consider doing.
Take for instance, Glamour magazine’s column and book that share “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Know By The Time She’s 30”. I did happen to read this book but not until I was way passed the age (my many migraines held my vision hostage too). My take away is number five and thirteen; “A Youth You’re Content to Move Beyond” and “The Belief You Deserve It”, respectively.
Despite that those traits, a lot of those lists make me feel panicked and inadequate. When I read those lists I have to realize the priorities of the author are not mine. Sure I don’t have a handy little black dress that fits, or know how to hang a picture although I am sure I could figure it out, but does that mean at thirty-four I am incapable of being self-sufficient? Or worse, that my life has passed me by and there is no longer time to complete the rest of my goals? I assure you that those goals are not anything adjacent to LBD.
It is during this times I appreciate that the lists I make for myself as they are far better at gauging my progress in life. No one else has the right to make your list besides you. After all you are the one who will look back at your life one day with regret about what you did or missed out on. I intend to have none when my day arrives.
It is only with time that you can appreciate what you took for granted. In many ways those years were a blessing and it is now with a clear head I can treasure them. I have a gift for being able to cherish memories even when part of a trip or event was anything but happy. This way I can edit my memories to appreciate the moments that matter.
Even though I can party to my hearts content now, I am way toooo old for it. I can no longer drink or stay out as I use to. I feel like the changes in yourself between twenty and thirty might be the most intense. I guess I am headed in the right direction or I would still feel like I am missing out. My thirties were not made for partying or stupidity. As I am approaching forty (in six years) my focus is on family, love, and career. This will be the birthday when anxiety finally sets in.
As J.Lo’s album states:
“This is Me……Then”.
As I settle into my thirties and wait for all of the blessings I hear I will receive from those older than me, I can say I am more than just content to be at this point in my life. I learned so much so fast about myself and my life it is sometimes overwhelming. I now have proof that my life can be anything I want it to be if I just keeping going. I am more than self-sufficient, I am capable of making all of my dreams come true, even if it takes longer than I would like. It is delightful to know that I am a complete being on my own. Anyone that comes along will just be the cherry on my sundae of life.
“Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number”.
Now I believe her.
For More on My Self Exploring Journey:
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