Flipping through videos on my phone, I come across a front-facing camera recording of myself—presumably thinking I had a great idea worth sharing—speaking into my phone as I water plants around the apartment.
[TRANSCRIPTION]: We’ve gotten in the habit… we’ve gotten in the habit of waiting. Waiting for the pandemic to end. Waiting for our vaccines. Waiting… and some of that we had to do for the issues of public health and keeping our community safe.
But what else am I waiting for? Waiting until I’m settled into the dream apartment? Waiting until after (a big work event)? Waiting until this or that? And there’s got to be more to this than that. Maybe it’s like ‘yeah, I know that once I do this then this will happen.” But also… you know? … I don’t have to wait.
The video then cuts into me singing “I don’t wanna wait // for our lives to be over” (the Paula Cole song) and I decide that I should not be allowed to live alone or have access to a video recorder.
But I replay the short video a couple times, watching the way my brow furrows and relaxes just before I say “I don’t have to wait.” Almost as if my mind is realizing for the first time that if I can, I should.
But boy is it easy to wait. I have distinct memories of being a young child and thinking how my life would go. I would go to school. I would eventually meet someone. I would get married and buy a house and have kids. All of this, of course, by 25. Back when 25 felt so far away. The point of this isn’t to say I wish I had all those things (because I really, really, at 27-years-old, don’t), but rather to realize I bought into this checklist life.
Go to college. Get a job. Meet someone. Get a better job. Get married. Buy a house. Get a better job. Have children. Raise children. Do this. Do that. Etc. And while this works for some people… the idea of following some societal checklist for when and how I should experience life feels a little too Truman Show-esque to me.
I want to talk to the person who trashed the timelines. Who did things when they made sense for them. Who didn’t buy into the idea that you must have A, B, and C before you can have D, E, and F. I want the person who mixed up their alphabet and realized you can still spell beautiful even when the letters don’t go in order.
And so I’m spilling my words. I’m flipping the calendar. I’m diving in headfirst because no amount of waiting will get me where I’m going and at a certain point, you have to realize you have all the information you need to move forward. You know what needs to be done. You know what has to come next. So do it. Step forward into the future you’re creating.
Whether it makes sense to your family, your friends, your colleagues, or your peers is of no cause for concern. If it makes sense to you, trust that. You’re on your own timeline. You’re in charge of your checklist. You get to determine what story you write.