Part of what made my birthday really difficult last year was my subconscious was very much aware I was hitting a milestone. Both my sisters were married by the time they turned 26. And there I was on my 26th birthday and married I was not.
At the time I was happily partnered, but unfortunately when you’re unaware of a belief/story that you’ve formed (that you should be married by 26), it’s hard to stay mindful and present. That was not a skill I had cultivated at that time.
When I became aware of the pressure I had been putting on myself, I worked on it. I processed it. I let it go.
But I think a lot of us have a tendency to live on timelines.
I remember in high school when my friends outlined what they hoped their lives would look like by 30. I have friends who have decided how many kids they want to have before they turn 30. I have coworkers who have decided that they want to reach a certain level of management before they turn 31.
30 seems to be a magic number.
And it scares me.
It scares me that instead of getting rid of my 26 cut off date for a normal wedding, I just pushed it back. My brother got married when he was 33. What’ll happen on my 33rd birthday if I am still unmarried?
I don’t really have answers to this.
I realize on my 26th birthday I was not mindful, and now that is something I’m cultivating. That makes me think 33 won’t be a big deal.
More importantly, I realize I’m happy not knowing my future. Not in the I feel trapped when I do kind of way. I generally feel very safe when I think things are chugging along just fine and I’ll be in the same place in a year that I am now (not that I’m one for staying in the same place for very long).
I’m happy not knowing my future because that sense of safety was false. Nobody knows their future. But I’m just now starting to realize that. I’m just now starting to look at that with love and faith instead of fear and nausea-level anxiety. It took losing a future I thought was locked down to realize just how scared I was, just how in control I felt I needed to be.
This year I challenged myself to surrender. To surrender that need to control everything and everyone. To surrender a need to know exactly where I’ll be in a year, or five, or ten. I was scared surrendering would leave me powerless. That in surrender I will wither away doing nothing. But surrendering has freed me. It’s allowed me to try things without getting attached to a certain outcome – or at least to try.
I hope I’m done with timelines. But knowing myself, knowing human nature, knowing recovery from anything is never linear, I have a feeling timelines will come back into my life. Maybe when I turn 30, or 33, or 40. I hope by then I will have this mindfulness and surrender stuff down. I hope by then I can recognize it more quickly than I did last year. I hope but I’m not sure. I’m just doing my best for now.