Lately I’ve been pondering the contrast between how you think things will be versus how they actually end up. I’m not sure if it was sifting through all my worldly possessions in preparation for my latest move (seven times in the last decade), but I suddenly remembered the paragraph I wrote my senior year in high school (1997) about where I’d be 10 years from graduation.
Lord knows why this was at the forefront of my mind, I didn’t even have the paper handy and it’s been 15 years since finishing up that chapter, but at the present moment I can remember the words clear as day: “I will be an elementary school teacher living in North Carolina in a small house with a white picket fence, two little girls and an amazing husband.” At that point in my life I hadn’t been to North Carolina, but apparently with 17 years of wisdom it was my ideal homemaker state (still might be).
Sitting here in my new Brooklyn apartment typing away with Albert by my side (dog, not husband), I realize how happy I am that my teenage idealizations didn’t become reality.
That’s not to say I don’t have a lot of ”is this my life?” moments. In fact I often wonder if I had only done this instead of that, or gone here rather than there… Would things be different? Probably… No, definitely. But who doesn’t think about these things every once in a while?
Instead I’m trying to focus on the reality of today, February 11, 2012, exactly 12 months to my last day in corporate America and the first day of “creating the life I wanted.” Six months after the “Six Months Off” blog was to cease to exist. Needless to say, it’s been a pretty incredible year. One I wish I hadn’t been quite as lax about documenting over the last few months – but forgiving myself for being out living rather than capturing every moment online has been part of my learnings. (Okay, or choosing to nap sometimes rather than write, but hey, it was supposed to be time off.)
Where does that leave things today? I’m not really sure. You know how growing up, you were always striving for something? In middle school it’s high school, in high school it’s getting into college, in college it’s figuring out classes and internships to get a job, once you get said job, it’s figuring out how to get to the next level/next job/next salary/grad school/etc… It’s always something.
But what if you’re in a place where you’re hanging tight figuring the next thing will find you when it’s meant to. It’s not to say there aren’t moments of “what’s next?” or “what am I doing here?”, but it’s about enjoying the moment you’re in versus worrying about the future.
I recently dated this person who was so obsessed with knowing the ending, he didn’t even want to write the story and get to know each other. Not only did I get that amazing analogy out of our time together, but it also made me take a step back and think about all the times I was so worried about how it would end or what was next, that I didn’t even take in the pertinent information to make the decision about what I wanted in terms of that ending!
What do these ramblings boil down to? Just a tiny fraction of what I’ve learned in the last year while trying to create the life I want. Speaking of which – what does my life look like today, you ask? (If you didn’t ask, you can stop reading now as I feel like writing it out…)
- I just gave up my “fancy,” $2850 a month, doorman building apartment, which I used as a symbol for myself and others that I was worth something. I’ve moved to Brooklyn, and live in a house, albeit the bottom level, and consequently while it’s not white… I do have a fence (wrought iron).
- I rediscovered my love of writing… Which is why I took that corporate job all those years ago… Before managing a team, doing business development and looking at a budget got involved. I’m glad to have those skills too, but am happy to find balance with this creative outlet.
- I now help other women create the life they want in terms of finding their career or starting a business. After finishing up a coaching program at NYU, I’m confident in my ability to help them manage competing priorities and get to the next level. I even blog about it on sites where I don’t control all the content!
- I’m about to start my next adventure – a co-op office space for others like me. My partner and I are hoping to create a place where people who truly love what they do can collaborate and find the team environment which is occasionally lost in the beginning stages of entrepreneurship.
Who knew this would be possible a year ago? I certainly didn’t, but it further proves that when you’re open to anything, anything can find you.
Which gets me back to the Six Months Off blog… Can it continue, if today I’m not really off and it’s way past six months? Definitely. Moving forward the blog will tell the stories of women who’ve created the life they wanted through the 5Q Friday feature. It will also offer tips and stories on going out on your own and ironing out any of the daily challenges that cross your path. All of this will content will be available on the site, and through our semi-new weekly newsletter, which you can sign up for here.
In the end, I realize the phrase “Six Months Off” was really about allowing time to not be so focused on getting to the next thing, but instead thinking about, with no pressure, what you actually want that next thing to be.
“Don’t be so obsessed with the ending you forget to write the story.” ~ Mandy Gresh