During my trip to the Bahamas, I dug deep and figured out what was important to me. I felt left behind in life’s Important Milestones: going to college directly after high school, finding a career, finding a spouse, starting a family, and so on and so forth. I became unhappy and discouraged with my life. I felt like I was doing something wrong, and that I’d never catch up.
During and after college, I scrolled through many friends, acquaintances, and strangers flashing their engagement rings with their fiancé looking adoringly at them. It was a daily occurrence of seeing other lives move forward in a way that mine wasn’t. I blocked, deleted, or unfollowed countless friends when they got engaged, and when they had beautiful weddings, or for simply changing their relationship status. I hated bachelorette party pictures, because it was a reminder of the close group of girlfriends that I didn’t have. I secretly seethed while liking, commenting, or sharing Facebook or Instagram posts. While they were experiencing love and excitement, I was somehow unloveable and bitter. It was like each post whispered, “You’re not good enough.”
That problematic whisper echoed in my mind, causing a pattern in all of my relationships. I catch a guy’s interest. I make him the center of my world in about a week. I imagine the rest of our lives together in less than a month. I am surprised Pikachu when it doesn’t work out or I find myself in a toxic situation. That sounds crazy, but I didn’t know how healthy relationships worked. I felt valuable when a guy liked me, because I did not value myself. I didn’t know what boundaries were, and low self-esteem, ignorance, and desperation made my choices. I’d say about 90% of the time, I’d date an abusive or narcissistic guy that reaped the benefits of my insecurities. The other 10% were normal guys that bolted, because I got depressed that I wasn’t checking a box fast enough.
I finally saw the problem I kept creating for myself and found solutions.
– I need to stop backing men into corners in pursuit of checked boxes.
– I need to stop comparing and rushing.
– I need to stop chasing what I was told to want.
So I asked myself a seemingly simple question:
What do YOU want?
I want what I think everyone wants. Happiness.
But that wasn’t enough. I needed more than a one word abstract concept. What does happiness look like to me specifically? Thus, my new milestones were born. My milestones don’t have to be accomplished in any particular order. They are also not set in stone. They are fluid, and can change as I change. My current milestones are:
- Creating an engaging blog that both inspires and validates women, giving them a space to be vulnerable and feel less alone
- Writing a memoir about being a military child that analyzes how it impacted my life as an adult
- Spending one day each weekend volunteering to make the world a better place
- Finding a job that makes me feel like I am making a difference, regardless of the pay
- Finishing my master’s degree, not to prove that I am smart, but to gain a tool to further my future career
- Becoming a certified life coach to help those that feel stuck or like they don’t measure up
- Attending therapy sessions with my parents to heal the trauma and abuse and reach a place of forgiveness
- Getting to a place where my inner-critic has been replaced by an inner-supporter
- Having a service dog for the days or times that PTSD or anxiety may become overwhelming
- Running a 10K, since I’ve never gone farther than a 5K
There you have it, my milestones. For me, happiness isn’t in keeping up with everyone else. That’s misery dressed in designer clothes. What was most surprising to me is that none of my milestones included a man in my life. The one thing I rabidly chased after is actually not important to me at all. Imagine that. Now when I see my peers getting to the next point on the Life Script, I can just be happy for them and not feel that I like I don’t belong, or like I’m doing something wrong.
It’s okay to be different. There is freedom in not belonging.
It’s okay to have different goals, desires, and needs. Go after your version of happiness whatever it may be.