No one gets everything they’ve ever wanted.
You dream of going to college. Maybe even getting an advanced degree. Having your first grown-up job, your own beautiful apartment, a partner in crime to keep you warm at night.
But when all of that materializes, what’s next? You should be as happy as you’ve ever been. You should want for nothing. But what if everything isn’t enough?
This is where I find myself now. At twenty-four, I bought my own home. A month later, I met the man who would become my husband. Two months after that, I finished a master’s degree in history. Three years later, we’re living in one of the most beautiful places on earth, with a brood of four beautiful furbabies.
And still, I feel like I want more.
When I was in college, I was obsessed with Sex and the City. (Don’t judge me – the culture was pervasive.) There’s a line in season five, where Candice Bergen’s character, Enid, tells Carrie Bradshaw that the key to having it all is to “stop expecting it to look like what you thought it would look like.”
At the time, at the age of twenty-one, that made sense to me. I was going to have a full-time job! I was going to make something of myself! And everything else would come secondarily, because I didn’t need it. What I needed was to be independent. What I needed was to establish my dominance. Over men, over work, over life. That would be my everything.
But you don’t get to be dominant, because your job comes with a boss. Your relationship comes with an opinionated partner. Your life comes with caveats. And the reality is that you need to be content with that. We can’t expect any one facet of our lives – job, home, spouse, whatever – to fulfill all of our needs. You need the job to pay the bills. You need the home to shelter you. You may or may not need the spouse, but they’re nice to have around when you’re interested in watching The Walking Dead but know it’s going to result in nightmares.
But what I’ve learned is that no one of those components is going to make your life perfect. Life is a complicated recipe, sometimes requiring more ingredients than we think our mixing bowl has room for. You can add more ingredients if you want to, but you have to make room. Find a few hours on a Wednesday night to write. Read on your lunch breaks. Volunteer on a Saturday morning. Spend Sunday afternoon at the movies with friends.
Maybe “everything” doesn’t look the way I thought it would. There is no Saturday morning newspaper reading, because I don’t like getting ink all over my hands. There is no hot coffee brewing in the morning, because I’m too lazy to make it. There is no beautifully redone kitchen or epic dining room in which to host epic dinner parties, because we’re in a rental. And there is most definitely no sequined shift dress for girls’ night out, because girls’ night out is done right – in black and orange at the ballpark.
I don’t have everything I ever wanted, but I have everything I need. And someday, I’ll realize that that’s enough for me.
Tori is a twentysomething Bay Area native who is allergic to every food imaginable, with the exception of bell peppers, which she hates on principle. She works a day job in education and spends a majority of her free time reading, writing, and rooting for the San Francisco Giants. She blogs at AquaticBehavior.com, and you can find her on Twitter at @toratoratorta.
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.