Whenever I think back to when I was 16 (which still only feels like a couple of years ago), I thought that by now I would’ve travelled, I would’ve graduated from uni and have a car, that I would’ve moved away, that I would have a ‘career job’, that I would actually feel like an adult but how wrong was I? As I sit here writing this in the middle of the day, wrapped up in a blanket, still in my pyjamas, having eaten a chocolate muffin for breakfast/lunch and contemplating always living with my parents, my 16 year old self would not be okay.
And the problem is? There’s not a problem with that. There’s not a problem with the fact that life is NEVER going to go as planned or that you work on a different timeline to other people. Quite frankly, SO WHAT?
However, even though I know that, and I try to remind myself that it’s okay and that I’m okay numerous times a day, I still can’t help but think I should’ve done this or that.
For example, I took 3 ‘gap years’ essentially, from education, simply because I wasn’t ready. I used them to work full time and volunteer and I don’t regret them (apart from maybe how much money I spent on Jaeger bombs a week, even then…), but when people ask me what I did in those 3 years, I feel like I should’ve ‘travelled the world’ or volunteered in a third-world country, or done something equally as humbling. Instead I try to avoid the question, shrug it off, make a joke or change the subject.
Then the other week I had a conversation with my friend and they said something that really stuck with me, they said; ‘If you don’t believe what you do is important or interesting then no one else is going to believe it either.’ And while, it was in a business-sense context, I can relate. When people ask me what I did in those 3 years, I make it seem like it was unimportant or unspectacular because I didn’t go to some rave in Thailand and Snapchat it when really, I should answer with pride. While, I didn’t do the things other people may have done, I grew as a person, I overcame a mental illness, I cultivated relationships, I grew closer to my family, I learnt how to be resilient, I grew in my faith, I got to experience the joy that comes with working with children, I gained the confidence to start a blog and I started to create my own path. If that isn’t something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.
And while I still struggle with the idea of being 20 something and not partying my weekends away or not having a massive friendship group anymore, or not always seeming like I’m having ‘the time of my life’, like most of social media says I should be doing right now. If I did that then I would miss out on the Sunday afternoons spent with treasured friends, the lazy Monday mornings sipping tea, creating incredible, meaningful relationships, getting up early to watch the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever experienced and so much else that I can get complacent about.
One day I will be 72, surrounded by family and friends, just drinking in the scene and I won’t feel disappointed that I didn’t go to Ibiza that one year or didn’t go to all the Oceans Wednesdays dressed like some character from mean girls or like it’s not ‘instagram-worthy’, I will just be thankful. Thankful that I’ve done what’s right for me and more importantly, I will be proud of the life I’ve created and the lives I’ve been honoured enough to be a part of.
While your struggling with the should’ves in life, don’t forget no one’s path will ever be the same to another, you’ve got to do what’s right for you and if that’s not the ‘norm’, then that’s okay. Remember all the amazing stuff you’ve already done and all the infinite possibilities of what could come next and most importantly, be proud.