Do you ever wonder what your eight-year-old self or even your fifteen-year-old self would think of you now? I read an article last fall about this idea, and I thought it was an interesting concept to think about.
Are you in a place you always hoped to be? Would your younger self, full of dreams and hope be proud? Or would she be disappointed? Would she be thrilled? Would she wonder how you got to where you are? Would she think that you stayed on course, or are a completely different person on a completely different path?
I was reminded of this idea a few months ago when my mom called to tell me that she stumlbed upon my high school yearbook and laughed when she read my response to the question, “where do you see yourself ten years from now?”
My innocent response in the year 2000 at age eighteen was, “I see myself living in a small town raising my family with my loving husband and writing for the local newspaper.”
Ten years later, instead of living in a small town, I live smack dad in the middle of Washington, DC, one of the most powerful, beautiful and exciting cities in the world. Small town newspaper journalist? How about lobbyist for a huge, international law firm?
As for the loving husband and kids? I still want all of those things, but I put that on hold to get my law degree and start my career. As far as I am concerned, there is always time to fall in love but there is not always time to pursue your career goals. And I am taking my dad’s advice— love will find me when it finds me.
As for other areas of my life? I am surrounded by this great group of friends that is constantly expanding. I go out a lot. To brunches. And on dates. And to dance. And to explore my city. I volunteer and give back to my community. I have a good relationship with my family. I go on fun vacations. My finances are in order. Not a home owner yet, but I did just buy my car.
So, where is the small town, and kids and husband? That was the dream of an eighteen year old that did not see her full potential.
“But, how did I get here?” my eight-year-old self would ask.
I do not have a clear answer for that. I guess slowly my ideas of what I wanted my life to be like changed. Until eventually I had done a complete 180. Somewhere in college I developed this ambition in me that continues to drive me everyday. I realized how much I love to meet new people. How I love to feel like I am making a difference, on both a small level and a big level. I used to be a wallflower—more of the shy, behind the scenes type of person. Now, I take center stage. I love to be the leader and take on responsibility and challenges. And I thrive in those types of environments.
I even realized that I am smart, something that I never considered myself to be. My whole life I was told by my parents that my brother was the smart one, and that I was the hardworker. To this day, despite graduating magna cum laude from college and then also earning my law degree, my parents still consider my brother the smart one and me the hard worker. Well guess what I have learned along the way? I am both.
Sometimes, though, it is hard to be in a different place than so many of my high school friends. All of us were on the same track to have that same small town life. The majority of them still live in our same hometown. All of them are married. And most are starting to have children.
In fact, the last of my girlfriends from high school is getting married next month. I am in the wedding. And when I received the formal invitation it just listed my name. When I called to ask if I could bring someone, I was told that only married friends were granted “and guests.” I offered to pay for my date’s meal and expenses and was told, “It is our wedding and we made the decision that no singles get to bring dates.”
It stung. Because I am the only unmarried friend. I felt like instantly all of my friends that I grew up with had moved ahead and left me behind. Alone. And that I was being discriminated against for being single and not taking that same path. It was a really crappy feeling.
It put me in a funk for a few days. I even cried. And I am not a crier. But then one Sunday evening I was reflecting on the weekend. A weekend that was full of dates with a new guy I have been seeing, late nights dancing with my girlfriends, mimosa brunches and shopping in Georgetown. “My life is pretty kick ass,” I thought. And just like that…I was back.
And I realized that my eight-year-old self would look at me now, as I am about to turn thirty in two weeks, and think, “well, done, Kate…well, done.”
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.