Expectations of Getting Older vs. Reality

Every year, around the time of my birthday, I like to spend time reflecting on where I am in my life at the moment. I compare it to where I had imagined I’d be and try to gain some perspective on how it all fits together and makes sense.

Here is where I honestly thought I’d be at 24:

  • Graduated from college
  • Working
  • Financially independent
  • Out of Oklahoma
  • Engaged or on the road to it (still being honest…)

Here is where I really am at 24:

  • Still a student in undergrad
  • Unemployed
  • Completely financially dependent on my parents
  • Living with my parents at home in Oklahoma
  • Single

See? Not much has changed.

I will admit that I sometimes catch myself thinking, “I’m 24 and I have absolutely nothing to show for it.” I compare where I am with where I thought I would be and sit in a pool of shame. But I don’t allow that pity party to last. Because it’s not true.

It’s not fair to compare how I pictured my life (with a pretty little bow on top) to reality. How could I have predicted the challenges I’d face and the obstacles I’d overcome?

This is not what Life looks like. (source)

I’ve found that if I continue to focus on what I expected to happen, I will never learn to appreciate the unexpected moments, accomplishments, and happiness. And to me, that’s a major life lesson. We make plans to stay sane and to give ourselves some direction, but how much of life actually goes according to that beloved plan?

Sure, there are things I had planned that haven’t happened yet–but what about the things I didn’t plan? I hadn’t planned on studying abroad, but that ended up being one of the most significant experiences of my life. I hadn’t planned on running a marathon, but the experience has shaped much of who I am today. I never expected that I’d be able to do these things that have been defining moments for me.

As we experience more of life, priorities change, definitions change, and goals change…which lead to changes in expectations as well. If so much within us is constantly changing, how can we look at ourselves with the same perceptions as before? That’s a step backward. It’s time to move forward.

I know I’m not the only person who often wishes they were in a different place or doing different things, but I’ve fought hard to be where I am right now. I am not doing myself justice if I don’t carry myself with pride.

The important thing is that I’m surrounded by good people, love, support, and hope. And that is why I have reason to celebrate my 24 years.

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1 Response to Expectations of Getting Older vs. Reality

  1. mom says:

    Pooj, you have accomplished much more than a 24 year old would. We know what you are and yes, you have all the reasons in the world to celebrate your 24th birthday.

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