Around the age of 11 I had a mid-life (er, eighth-life?) crisis.
Weirdest thing ever.
My mom was going through the check out line at the grocery store so I stole a moment to go sit on the benches near the exit. In a quiet moment of waiting, I made some time for reflection.
I was overwhelmed by the idea of starting middle school, and knowing it would soon lead into high school. I knew that then in high school I’d face the giant decision of where to go to college, and what to do with the rest of my life. I didn’t know how I would manage that decision. After all, high school was just three short years away, and in no time flat I’d have to set a path I’d of course have to follow for the REST OF MY LIFE.
And damn, that stressed out an 11 year old.
I remember thinking about future Sarah. Future Sarah who’d already made all of these impossible life choices. Who knew where her life was going. And who (hopefully) was happy about it.
I hoped that future Sarah would remember stressed-out-eleven-year-old-grocery-store-waiting Sarah. And I wished that future Sarah could whisper at least a hint of how it all turns out.
Poor eleven-year-old Sarah might have had a heart attack if I had whispered to her that not much changes.
I survived middle school. I rocked high school. I sort of fell into a college choice, and then stumbled into choosing two majors. Being an unemployable liberal arts graduate, I went with the graduate school that made the most sense. And then I happened upon a career path that isn’t a perfect fit, but definitely a good enough fit at the moment.
And now I’m probably even older than the future Sarah that I’d previously imagined. But I don’t feel like I’ve got it all figured out. Not even a smidgen.
I still have that habit of thinking about life years and years into the future and getting incredibly stressed out about it. O and I aren’t even engaged yet, but the poor guy has already heard my plans for our first child’s nursery.
And I still think about future Sarah. Except now future Sarah is even older. She’s married with kids. She’s figured out how to make time to be a loving and caring mother and wife, while still having a life outside the home in which she’s making a positive impact on the world.
Dude, she’s good.
I know it’s more likely than not that if future Sarah could whisper me any hints, she’d still say that there isn’t much she’s figured out. And that she’s horribly stressed out about how to handle her children’s bumps through young adulthood and how exactly she and O will approach retirement.
But I hope that future Sarah would tell me (much like I would tell eleven-year-old Sarah) that’s it’s okay that not much is figured out. Yes, having a plan and following it through feels awesome. Planning runs through my veins, and that will never stop. But life is an awfully big event. And forgiving myself for not being able to plan all of it, and accepting the unexpected as it comes is one of the best ways to win at life. And if we can’t plan, at least we can try and win.
Day 18, Saturday: Tell a story from your childhood.
Images are ‘Shadow Play‘ by Elly MacKay