I have to admit something.
I’m ashamed, and a little embarrassed but…I have to tell you that I just turned 29 and, according to this article online, I have just not accomplished anything at all in life so far.
By the time I’m 30, apparently I’m supposed to have traveled to all seven continents, climbed Mt. Everest, run with the bulls, read 150,000 books, gotten my dream job AND cured cancer, all while maintaining a thriving social life, feeding myself and doing laundry.
I don’t know about you, but, if I see another one of these “Things you should do by the time you’re 30” articles, I’m going to start pouring wine over ice cream and calling it a day.
ITS. TOO. MUCH.
Our generation has become the “we want to do it all” generation.
Which on one hand, has opened the door to many of us achieving far more than we expected. But the second half of “we want to do it all” is “and we can never do enough”. And it’s especially never enough for an over-achieving perfectionist like myself.
I can’t tell you how often I feel like I’m just wasting time. I don’t have a trip planned, I haven’t learned anything new, my social life is in fact NOT thriving, and I just don’t have the money to do everything. And sometimes it feels like no matter what I do in those moments to turn things around, all of my efforts are in vain. And nothing changes.
Nothing changes? How am I supposed to fit an entire lifetime of activities into 30 years if I can’t force things forward? If I can’t do it all RIGHT. NOW. And what do I do in this lull? Wait?! That’s just ludicrous.
* Insert sound of cork popping off bottle *
I’m always fearful that in the waiting, I’m just settling. I’m not “making things happen”.
And even more frustrating, sometimes I simply can't make things happen.
But the reality I'm (slowly) finding, is that there’s a fine line between settling for less, and simply being content in the moment. I think what our generation has found is the will not to settle, but some of us have lost the art of contentment in the hustle.
What if we want to do it all, but whatever we are able to do, is enough?
What if we drive change and take opportunities, but we enjoy today for what it is and we do what we can with what we have? I don’t know about you, but that sounds far less exhausting to me.
A wonderfully wise older woman named Theresa once put this into words far better than I could.
I was interviewing her for a blog, and had asked her how life turned out differently than she expected:
“Oh my life turned out really different. A lot different. I didn’t expect to see all this in my lifetime. I didn’t expect to do everything I’ve done in my lifetime. It just happens…Maybe that’s what’s wrong with you young people, you’re trying to get everything ahead of time. You know what? You can’t be planning all that, you want to do it but whatever you’re able to do as time goes on, you’ll do. Enjoy life in the moment.”
That's what I suggest we actually do before 30 (and beyond). Learn to let life play out. Do whatever we're able to do, enjoying the moments in between.
That will be enough.
--To read more life lessons from Theresa (and others) visit swingsetproject.com