I am not where I hoped I’d be by now in my life. I have been trying to follow my own path, and be different for my entire life, and this is where it has gotten me.
I am just colour-faded hair, crooked teeth, and permanent exhaustion. I am still living at home in my late-twenties; with one career destroyed, and no definite path laid out in front of me. I have two part-time jobs that I pour my entire soul into and yet, I still cannot make enough to live on my own. I have one degree that no one understands, and I have more mental health problems than I could ever keep track of.
I feel like a failure.
But am I one?
Or do I only feel like I am failing because I have not followed the prescribed life handed over to women the day they exit their mothers’ wombs. Maybe life is supposed to be about the struggle. Maybe we are supposed to fall down and get back up over and over again. Maybe it is not the fear of failure that should scare us, but instead, the fear of staying content.
What if settling for a life you never truly wanted will do more harm to you than failing and having to begin again?
What if it is actually worse to stay stagnant and safe, than to constantly catapult between dreams and ideas; all while hoping that one day, one of them will finally work out.
There is comfort in consistency. Predictability can be calming. But can’t these things also cause you pain?
How can a person who has been growing their entire life suddenly decide one day to just stop?
How can you fight against the very nature of what it means to be a human being?
Why have women never been considered human beings?
We are taught at such a young age what it means to be a woman. We are taught to be quiet. We are taught to be polite. We are taught to be simple and that the complex world of our emotions should thus never be explored. We are taught to be the accessory to the person who actually gets to live their dream life. We are the side-kick and the partner in crime. We are the ones who need saving. We are the damsels in distress. But we are never taught to be the hero.
All I have ever wanted is to be my own hero.
I want to find success on my own. I want my own career and my own passions. I want to wake up each day and know that even if this day is not a great one, I have done everything that I possibly can to make it so. I want to make my life something extraordinary.
I don’t want to live my life as someone else’s shadow.
I don’t want to be quiet; I want to scream. I don’t want a white picket fence and a perfect little home. I want to live in a place where the walls don’t feel like they are caving in on me. I want to be creative. I want to create the life I have always dreamt of simply because that is what I want.
I do not want to give up on my dreams while he gets to live out his.
If I do decide to build a life with someone, I want it to be a life we are both happy to lead. I want it to be a life full of compromise and teamwork. I do not want someone to give up everything they have ever wanted for themselves just to be with me. And I never want to expect someone to do that for me either. I want to create a future with someone who sees me as their partner and their equal. I do not want to settle for being another check on someone’s to-do list for their life.
More than anything else, I do not want to settle.
Some days, I will admit that settling for the life society paints as my dream seems like the best option. I am not happy with where I am currently at in my life. I have my moments when I curse every decision I have ever made that has brought me to this point, and I just wish that I could take it all back.
On these days, I wish that I would have just stuck it out with the only person who has ever wanted to marry me. Not because I loved him, but because I would have achieved stability. I would have a place to firmly plant my feet on the ground, and I would wake up each day knowing what to expect. I would have a husband and a family, and I wouldn’t have to struggle so hard to support myself.
On these days, I wonder if this is exactly why some women get married.
You spend so many years fighting for dreams that the world has made sure will be just outside of your reach. Maybe a white wedding dress is really just a woman waving a white flag to surrender and signal, “I’m done.”
Maybe the wedding ring becomes easier to slide on than the work uniform for the job that does nothing more for you than just pay the bills. Maybe one day you just wake up and decide to say, “I do,” to the life you never wanted; because the one you have always dreamt of seems so far away.
Maybe I am not where I ever imagined myself to be. Maybe I will never achieve that long list of dreams that I have made for myself; maybe they will always stay so far away. And maybe they are meant to. Maybe the dreams that do not happen were never meant for us in the first place.
What if every broken dream is really just another chance to try something new? What if failing is the only way you will ever learn to push yourself?
Even on my darkest days, I can look back at my life and know that I have tried. I have done everything that I could to build the life that I have always dreamt of. And that really is something.
To push yourself into the unknown is brave. To dedicate your life to what you know you love, regardless of the difficulty and pain you might encounter along the way is something you should be so proud of. It takes courage to become who you truly want to be in a world that has already decided your fate before you were even born. It takes courage to reject the norm; and to firmly plant yourself in a life that you have chosen.
It can take everything you have not to give up when your dreams don’t come true. But on the days when they do, it is the most beautiful feeling to know that despite it all, you never gave up. You did exactly what you set out to do.
You may fail more times than you succeed, and that is okay. Every chance you take towards achieving your dreams is a step in the right direction, even if that direction is unclear. The only way you can guarantee that you will never achieve your dreams is to never try to achieve them.
Maybe you are not where you thought you would be at this point in your life, but always remind yourself of how far you have come. You have lived the life that you have always wanted and that is remarkable.
Your life is something to be proud of, even if the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way.
You have always known who you are, and you cannot let a few bumps in the road end your journey.
You have gotten back up more times than you can count; and I hope that you never convince yourself that life would be easier if you just stayed down.
I hope you always keep getting back up.