I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about my future, my plans, goals, wishes, and aspirations. It is actually very stressful to think about. I started thinking about all of this really for the first time about a month ago. The title of this post is a quote from Virginia Woolf that really spoke to me about this matter and shed light on the problem at hand. You will soon understand why.
About a month ago I was talking to my boyfriend’s mother-and we still don’t know how we got on the subject-but we started talking about kids and marriage. I told her I wanted to wait to have kids and get married until after I graduate undergrad and law school. The next thing she said is still on my mind and still has me at a lose for words.
She asked me, “Why?”.
Why? What kind of question is that?! Of course I want to focus on my career and myself before having kids and getting married. I want to be successful and prepared first. I want to be financially stable first. I want us to be in a good place first.
All those reasons sound good enough to you right? They do to me too. That is what first went through my head when she asked but I knew that wasn’t the truth. So when she asked me why I said, “I don’t know.”.
After that phone call I have been thinking about that a lot. I don’t know why I want to wait until after all my schooling. It has just been a plan in my head since before I could remember. I remember making plans for my future when I was probably 12 years old saying I was going to be a lawyer, marry my husband, build our dream home, live in a nice neighborhood, have 4 kids, and a dog, and have that typical family that was successful.
The problem with that was, I made those plans when I was 12. When I didn’t even know DePree, before I fell in love, before I was even in high school, before I had the chance to explore other career paths, before I even knew what it took and how much money and time it would take for law school, building my own home, having a family and a dog.
Now I am still left thinking, why? Why did I make those plans, and why am I sticking to them? What is it about the plans that has me following and pursuing them? I think it is the consistency; it is the fact that it is a plan already made. I mean that plan sounds good, doesn’t it? Why wouldn’t I want to follow it?
But I don’t know why I want to build my own home, why I want to go to law school, why I want to wait to have kids and get married. That’s the golden question that has had me thinking ever since.
And I think I found the reasons…
It’s because of my best friends, my acquaintances, my mom, dad, step-mom, step-dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, professors, and teachers. It is because of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, people on social media that I don’t even know. All of that is why I make my decisions. I know that doesn’t make sense to you right now, so let me break it down.
I make MY life decisions based on OTHER PEOPLE. I worry about my outward appearance, how I would look to others, and how others will perceive my decisions and actions. I think about how my decisions would impact my friends, family, and people I don’t even know. I make decisions because I worry about what people will say about me and my future. I make decisions based on the social outcome of them, not the real life outcome. That is my problem.
I decided to become a lawyer because it sounds good. It is a prestigious position that holds a lot of respect along with it. I chose to become a lawyer because people are impressed with that. Not everyone can be a lawyer so when I tell them I am on a pre-law track I always get the “Wow! That’s awesome!” response that makes me feel good inside. It makes me feel accepted and accomplished. But after all of this I am left thinking if that is really what I want to do, or what others want me to do. Is it something that I decided a long time ago and never really questioned? Is the job one I can flourish in and have a passion for? Is that what I want to spend the rest of my life doing? After asking myself these things, I’m not too sure. But it doesn’t matter because I have achieved my goal: to be accepted.
I chose to attend The Ohio State University because of the name recognition and reputation of the school. Everyone knows about OSU and how high the standards are here. People know you have to be smart to get accepted to OSU and to succeed here. I was accepted to OSU and knew I had to go there because I wanted people to see how smart I was, that I got accepted into a prestigious school, that I was going to become someone. I chose to move away from my family and boyfriend to attend OSU only so that I could say I go to OSU. Did I think about the money? The debt? The curriculum? No. I wanted that recognition and name attached to me. When I tell people I go to OSU I get that side eye, smile look of “I’m proud of you!” and I know I have achieved my goal: to be accepted.
I told myself I wanted to get married after high school and law school because I didn’t want to be that stereotypical teen who got engaged “too early” and doesn’t really know what love is. I didn’t want to be frowned upon. I didn’t want people not taking my love seriously. But it isn’t THEIR love, it’s MINE. I decided to wait so that when I did get engaged I was “old enough” and “more ready”, in my family’s eyes, and people would be more happy for me and actually proud and excited for me. I wanted genuine happiness from my friends, family, and those I don’t even know from social media, not just a nod from family who thought I was too young, or retweets from people who actually laughed at my decision and thought I was stupid. I told myself I would wait to get engaged until I was at an acceptable age and with that decision I would achieve my goal: to be accepted.
I also told myself I would wait until after marriage to have kids and wait until my husband and I had a house and good jobs. Now I know what you’re thinking, I know that’s not a bad decision to make. It is actually very smart to want to be prepared, I know. But that’s not why I wanted to wait. I wanted to wait because I didn’t want people seeing me a ‘teen mom’. I didn’t want people to just dismiss my kids because they were conceived before marriage. I don’t want people to pity me for my “bad decisions” to become a mother “before I was ready”. I don’t want people to look down on me for having a kid while in college, or while I was young. I wanted to be pregnant when people thought it was acceptable to be so that I would have people who were excited and genuinely happy for my family. I didn’t want people in my face smiling then turning around saying I made a huge mistake, I am not ready, I will be a bad mother, I’m a whore, or my baby’s father and I aren’t prepared or ready for this because then I wouldn’t achieve my goal: to be accepted.
I could go on with this trend for every single decision I have made from the clothes I wear, the ‘phases’ I went through as a kid in middle school, my middle school and high school boyfriends, why I keep my hair long, why I chose my major and minor in college, why I spend so much time on social media, my lack of friends, and why I started this blog, my business, and youtube channel.
After all of this thinking and contemplating on my life decisions I am left feeling very empty and alone. I am very upset with myself for making so many important decisions in my life based on other people because this is MY LIFE. I am the one that has to live with MY decisions, not YOU or anyone else. So why did I put so much emphasis on pleasing other people with my decisions in hopes of being accepted by them, in hopes of impressing them, in hopes of becoming someone they would be proud of, in hopes of becoming someone I could be proud of. Why?
That is still the $100 question that lurks in my mind.
After all of this thinking about my future, my plans, goals, wishes, and aspirations I have realized that my only real goal in life was to be accepted. And that one goal has determined all of my life decisions without me knowing. That is not a real life goal one should pursue, nor a goal I am proud of pursuing. I made that goal subconsciously, without knowing how/why I was doing it. There was something about me and something in my head that was always telling me that I wasn’t good enough, that I needed to do better, that I needed to make people proud of me, and prove to them I was worth something. But in reality I didn’t need to do any of that. I don’t need the approval of other people, I don’t need to be accepted by people I don’t even know on social media, I don’t need to prove to my family that they were wrong about me and that I became something. They will see I became something and turned out successful when I am successful and someone important because of the decisions I made to make myself happy. Now I have a new goal in life:
To make myself happy.
I will no longer worry about how others will think about me, how they will perceive me, or how they will talk about me. This is MY LIFE.
“Your life isn’t yours if you constantly care what others think.”
I wrote this very in depth and personal post today in hopes that you can learn from my mistakes and learn to love yourself as soon as possible so that you can start making decisions to make yourself happy and to ignore the chatter of others who look down on you for everything you do. You will always have critiques. You cannot make everyone happy, so I suggest just making sure YOU are happy with every decision you make. Looking back, I wish I would have made different decisions in my life, and made them for much different reasons.