I love today’s 20-something guest post from Heather Sundell, who runs the excellent blog, Terrible Twenties where she offers her quarter-life musings and advice. A few weeks ago 40:20 Vision answered one of her 20-something questions and now she shares her reflections on looking forward 20 years from now and being happy just where you are. A wonderful story and perspective at any age!
Why I Will Never Say, “This isn’t where I thought I’d be at 4 _”
By Heather Sundell
Recently my boyfriend and I rescued three kittens from under a car on the side of his apartment building. He has the biggest heart I know, empathy coursing through his veins. He wanted to keep one, two, maybe all of them, but we both knew it wasn’t a good idea. I reminded him that cats live a very long time, and that if he adopted a cat now, his future children would know this cat perhaps into their teenage years. A healthy cat can live to be twenty-years old, and even with my less than stellar math; I realized that he and I would both be forty-seven years old at the end of kitty’s life.
Holy cheesus. Forty-seven.
At twenty-seven years old, I sit equidistant between seven and forty-seven. I think that sums it up pretty well; I feel just as far away from both. I’m most definitely not a seven year old child anymore, but forty-seven seems so…adult. I’m not an adult yet am I? Yesterday I had $24 left in my checking account.
I’m stuck in an awkward backbend under the ol’ limbo stick, just waiting to pass through to the Other Side.
I haven’t lived with my parents for close to a decade now, so my kiddo days have long gone to pasture in the fields of nostalgia. Although the idea of a life without worry is appealing, I don’t long for tedious homework, orthodontia, or bedtimes. And let’s be honest, I still appreciate the occasional PB&J.
But forty-seven, man. I have no idea what that will look like! Some girls have had these vivid ideas about their future since they were in Kindergarten, playing House. They clearly envisioned their twenty-something career and lifestyle, weddings, husbands, homes, and of course baby names. These are the girls who I’ve heard say over their fifteen dollar brunch, “My life just isn’t the way I thought it would be.”
I nod in agreement, but secretly I have no idea what they are talking about because I have never been that girl. The farthest into the future I can plan for is about six months, and even that is a little iffy. The thought of a home, marriage, or children makes me want to put my head down.
At this point in my life, I’m one dorm, one sorority house and four apartments away from living at home. By now, I am pretty sure I have developed my own taste in design and can recognize that I inherited my parents’ love of all things Craftsman with my own mid-century vintage twist. But I still can’t for the life of me visualize my own Barbie dream home, let alone the exorbitant amount of money it will take.
Friends keep popping up in my Facebook feed as either engaged or married almost every weekend, and I am still shocked every time. Getting married so young?? Then I realize I might be of marrying age. In about fifteen years, I have dated enough boys/men/children to understand what I want and need in a partner, and made enough mistakes in between to learn my emotional limits. I am currently working on my third serious relationship, and I am freaked out that it may realistically be my last. I believe in long-lasting love and monogamy but I still can’t fathom the death do us part end of the deal, even though I am a sucker for a DIY wedding blog.
Babies are by far the most intangible thought for me right now. My mother was thirty-three when I was born, and as such, that has always been the peak child bearing age in my mind. This was a safe number, allowing me plenty of time to live my life before it became the property of someone else. It was harmless enough until this year, when I realized that was only six years away. I can’t imagine myself as a mother, but I know I want to be one.
I’m not in an entirely arrested state. The past few years have warped my perspective, my thoughts maturing beyond clothes, happy hours, girl drama, boys, and plans for Saturday night. I now stop in the windows of furniture stores to drool over overstuffed chairs I can’t afford, and my savings account has turned into a dumping ground for a growing down payment on a house. I’ve started to look at my current job situation and considered if it will still be fulfilling in five years, or if the time commitment is conducive to the family lifestyle I think I might want one day.
The scariest thing, I’ve only begun to think about but try not to because it just depresses me, is my parents getting older. I’m an only child, and my now separated parents will be my sole responsibility. Sometimes it’s too much for me to handle, the thought of my parents becoming dependent on me. In a lot of small ways, I’m still reliant on them. I imagine this role reversal will be just as traumatizing as growing up and realizing your parents are just people who mess up a lot.
See, I am not a total lost puppy!
To me, my future has just always been a nebulous haze. On the plus side, without any previous expectations for my twenties, I haven’t been disappointed. Challenged? YES. But I never once thought, “This isn’t where I thought I would be at 2_,” and I don’t think I will ever lament, “This isn’t where I thought I’d be at 4_.”
All I know is, I want to be happy, healthy, loved, challenged, and fulfilled, with a general feeling of “I’m doing OK.” That’s easy to do, right?? No, I know it’s not, but I’ll be damned if I don’t shoot for the moon.
After all, I still have some time.
About Heather Sundell
Heather is a writer, social media wizardess, attempted cyclist, and aspiring adult currently honing her Gen Y skills by doing all three at once. She is obsessed with technology, macaroons, bearded men, and generational behavior. Her own twenty-something trials and tribulations can be found at her blog, Terrible Twenties. Follow her on Twitter @MissHezah.