As of today it has been a month since I have turned 25. During the past month I have taken the time to catch up on work I had fallen behind on as well as outline some future posts for the blog, but it also got me thinking about things that I hadn’t for a while. Like most people I have a list of goals I had to get done with a specific (age) time-frame. I believed that by having a set deadline to meet I would be motivated to complete everything. Originally the deadline was my 21st birthday but since I was a senior in college desperately trying to keep my sanity under the pressure of having all writing intensive courses, I cut myself some slack and decided to push the deadline back to my 25th birthday. Needless to say only one thing came to be from that list and that was graduating from college on time.
This list was concocted when I had just entered high school with the idea that by 25 I should have done the following (among other things):
- Been in a strong, year long relationship with a great guy that hopefully is moving towards marriage.
- Be a published author with at least one book on the national best sellers list.
- Be well established in my career, be in in academia or otherwise.
- Speak 4 languages (in addition to the two I already speak) including Italian, French, Japanese and Latin.
- Learn how to drive (properly) and buy my first car.
- Lost weight and be a size 10/12.
- Be working towards my second master’s or first doctorate.
- Be financially stable enough that my mother can finally retire.
- Traveled through Europe (at least the capital cities).
It is unrealistic to plan a life like you would a day. Not only that but it is very dangerous for your mental health. Though I didn’t have an emotional breakdown like I did the day I turned 21, this year I found myself re-evaluating my decisions, particularly my decision to go to graduate school immediately after college. The financial situation in my family only got worse once I got into graduate school to the point that two days after I received by Master’s degree the family was put out of our home. We had no choice but to throw out most of our furniture, including our beds, and storing everything we own into a storage unit. Though I had tried my hardest to get a job, literally any job, I remained unemployed for the entire summer of 2014. At one point I even had family friends blaming me for the family’s decent into homelessness and I had begun to believe it.
If only I hadn’t gone to grad school, I could have….
If only I wasn’t so selfish and put myself first….
If only I had considered …
They are right,
this is all your fault!
These are the thoughts that rang in my head for every minute of every day for months. They slowly began to fade once I got a job and were completely gone only after the family moved into a new place. Yet once my birthday rolled around this year these same thoughts began to resurface as I realized the significance of the date.
Fortunately I was a better place than last year that this didn’t last too long. After all, even though I am still not close to accomplishing my list, I do have a couple of achievements to be proud of.
- I have pushed past most of my social anxiety and opened myself to others which allowed me to meet some of the most amazing people who am proud to call family.
- My productivity with my manuscripts has increased and I have even started outlining an autobiographical book series.
- I finally have a blog that I update fairly regularly that I hope will grow to help foster change in our society’s beauty standards.
- I self taught myself French to at least an intermediate reading comprehension level.
- I am getting the hang of how to break when driving so I am one step closer to being more than a competent driver.
- I learned that my worth is not attached to my weight and started to love myself for who I am.
- I managed to complete my Master’s in two years and am currently well on my way towards a certificate in the 21st century Museum from University of Leicester.
- I got to travel to France, Costa Rica, Jamaica and New Orleans, LA for a class, two international women’s empowerment conferences, and a paper presentation at a national academic conference.
- Through an interesting set of circumstances I managed to get my family into a nice apartment complex in a good neighborhood.
Not bad for a girl from Queens who has been homeless twice.
Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with planning. Actually I’m the type of person who hates getting into things without a plan, yet I am no longer going to beat myself up for not meeting particular (personal) goals by a specific time. Do I still want to meet what I originally outlined for myself? Of course, but everything will come when the time is right, which will most likely be no where near how I planned to be and I can honestly say that I’m starting to be okay with that.
Have you ever made a list like mine? Why or why not? Do you think having such lists helps to motivate or just helps to create more anxiety?