I remember when I was graduating from college, being terrified of the abyss of adulthood. All of life had been broken up into 2–4 year chunks of goals, and then, what stretched before me was just…..a canyon of sameness until death.
Yes, I have always been cheery.
I was anxious about the never-change of career and adulthood. I was afraid of getting boring and bored, of being stuck in the sameness, being stifled by routine and expectations. (Which was weird, because I *fairly* confidently got married at age twenty-one. I guess he *mostly* got a pass from this fear.)
I totally discounted how much there is to learn, and how little control we actually have over the course of our lives. It turns out, all of life is constant change. Even within the same structures- the marriage, for example- there’s endless flux. We fall in love and fall apart over and over. Same people, varied versions. Who we are, and more importantly, maybe, how we feel about that, has changed many times over the years.
Every time something unexpected happens (job loss, infertility, miscarriage, etc), the immediate aftermath sucks, and having to make difficult decisions is brutal. We wish someone older, wiser, and more trustworthy than us would just make the choice for us- or even better, pull an ancient map out of a traveling cloak, that shows all of eternity, and point to the “You’re Here” arrow on my life map. Just let me see what decision I make and how the next few decades go.
Is that too much to ask.
Of course there’s no life map and we just have to make decisions based on the information we have, who we are at this current moment, and what our priorities are during this particular crisis. Really, eventually after every shit-storm I’ve been through, I’ve been glad for the growth and change and, even discomfort, of it. Making hard decisions proves to you that you CAN make hard decisions. Surviving proves to you that you’re a survivor. So the next time something terrible or obnoxious or not at all planned comes along, you have a track record you can refer to, and you know you can deal. You start to trust yourself and not dread life. That’s maturity, inner peace, self-awareness. Also, it’s a ton of chocolate and a flurry of texts to your friends about how freaked out you are.
So, ultimately, I guess I’m glad there’s not a life map, and that adult life is a bonkers ride and not the dull float I had feared.