I hate not knowing where I’m going.
Well really, it’s more that I don’t like thinking that I do know where I’m headed and then being wrong.
Have you ever been the passenger in a car on a roundabout and you think you know where you’re exiting but then the driver swings right early and you have to redirect your mind?
You get a jolt. It doesn’t feel good.
That’s what it’s like when I find myself with unfulfilled expectations.
Like, I thought I’d have done this by now and I haven’t.
Or, I thought I’d have that by now but I don’t.
When that happens, I find my mind trying to recalibrate, like a GPS when you go off the pre-determined path and it has to re-route you.
They are deadlines I never really speak about, but that are undercurrents that usually just feed self-doubt and comparison to others.
Unlike a GPS, they aren’t useful. They just waste my brain’s energy constantly re-routing itself.
For example, one of my expectations was, ‘I will have three kids by the time I’m 30’. (I set that one while I was in high school and 24 seemed like a lifetime and about 100 wrinkles away.)
Then as I reached my twenties and 30 didn’t seem so far, I changed the deadline slightly, ‘I will have at least one kid by the time I’m 30.’
More recently it was more like, ‘Just send me a good man and we’ll worry about the whole kids thing when we’re ready and if fertility is an issue then so be it, we will figure it out.’
Completely levelheaded I think you’ll agree.
Or not; even I can hear the desperation in that and it makes me want to hightail it outta there. Fast.
So, I’m trying to have fewer expectations about my life, but have a clearer vision of what I want from life.
What’s the difference?
That is, instead of setting deadlines like ‘I will have a super sparkly, large diamond on my finger by the time I am X years old’, I will instead be clearer on what qualities are important to me in a ring, I mean, a partner and trust that’s coming for me when I’m ready to receive it.
I think a lot of it has to do with perspective.
It can be hard to loosen your expectations of yourself when society and people around you (including you) only strengthen those inner deadlines with comments and questions.
“And how exactly long do you think your ovaries will wait for you to find a man and settle down?”
Even biology is against you. Which seems unfair because I gave biology some of my best years in high school.
But, that’s where perspective comes in.
Along with some incredible family and friends who give you permission to have no expectations of yourself.
Who tell you it’s okay to travel with no expectations, no hopes of falling in love with anybody but yourself.
To just go without any determinations of how it should pan out (aunts are the best, thanks Steph).
Those people are really special. Hold onto them.
Ultimately though it comes down to how you choose to look at things, your perspective.
When I’m travelling and, more specifically, walking around a city, I like to look backwards sometimes just to see where I’ve come from.
It always gives me a new perspective. My surroundings sometimes look completely alien and I find it hard to believe I walked past that place and didn’t notice it entirely.
I think life is like that.
Years pass and yet we don’t notice entirely what has happened in that time.
We don’t see the little progress, the corners that were hidden when we were walking straight.
We don’t see the shift in our values, or even notice the pattern of our values or that we have values at all.
I don’t think we should all constantly look back into the past, but I think if we can look back briefly and just appreciate where we’ve come from, we move forward with a little bit more energy than we had.
We get a chance to see the beauty/sweetness/innocence in who we were.
I’ve noticed that with myself.
Reflection makes me more aware, and gives me more room to grow, move forward and try again, this time with more knowledge.
It might be nothing more than an insight into who I am or what triggers my behaviour, but let’s not forget knowledge is power.
Or, it could be acceptance of myself.
For example, I used to loathe hearing my voice when listening back through recorded interviews.
I would cringe so much that I would miss something important the interviewee said and have to rewind the tape and hear myself again. Agony!
But now I hear my voice and my reaction is more “Oh listen to you, fumbling over your words. How precious you were/are.”
It’s like I’m looking back at someone else.
And I guess I was a different person yesterday.
I still struggle with not getting caught up in the past, caught up in my deadlines, or looking back with shame, guilt and judgment.
But I’m getting better. Slowly.
I’m moving forward bit-by-bit and trying to find chances to appreciate that.
I hope you are too.
MEANDA’ING THOUGHT: This post reminded me of something I wrote a year or so ago about perspective and ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back’ (also the title of a Slim Dusty track FYI). It’s dialogue I hope to one day refine and intertwine in a book or movie and have Woody Harrelson say in his sweet Southern drawl. Because #dreams.
Life’s A Beach, By Woody Harrelson
“People tend to try and look at life through two lenses – the past and the future. They say there’s two sides to every story.
“But, I prefer to think of stories as if I were walking along a beach. You got all of what’s in front of you, the future, all of what’s behind you, the past, ‘n’ if you turn to one side you see life, civilisation and all its rules and responsibilities.
“But if you turn to the other side, you’ve got the great big wide ocean full of opportunity and every possibility.
“It don’t mean you should walk straight out into the water.
“Most people I find don’t walk in no straight line any direction.
“They walk a little bit forward, but close to keeping with the rules. Or they just walking in the past lost in the waves.
“I think the best way to walk is forward with possibility.
“But, it’s hard to remember that ocean’s there sometimes. Don’t you forget ‘bout that ocean.”
Final Note: The day after I wrote this blog post, I was talking to a friend and she was telling me about her own inner deadlines without me even prompting. Turns out, she had the exact same deadline regarding birthing children. Talk about a perversive story that women have to push out some babies, like, yesterday! Thanks friend for giving me the confidence to add in the deadline so our fellow sisters feeling the pressure of their ovaries pressure-cooking know they have a friend in us.