After a visit with my daughter, I realized something valuable. As much as I wanted to hurry up and be an adult with my life together at 22, there was simply no way to speed it up. You have to make micro-decisions daily with regards to everything adult-like and see where it takes you. You don’t get to simply say I want to be fiscally responsible without daily choices over a LONG period of time to achieve that goal. You don’t magically become physically fit at 46 without the active daily lifestyle over 20+ years. You don’t achieve some level of career delight without doing the first crappy job in that field. You have to put in your “time” of doing things you don’t really want to do, work in jobs that aren’t the dream you envisioned, stay home for dinner when you want to go out but your budget says no, move your body when you’d prefer not to, and wear sunscreen when everyone else is going to the tanning bed because skin cancer is a real threat to you.
We have no clue what the trajectory of our micro-decisions over 20+ years will look like. No matter how much you plan, life has a way of throwing curve balls at you. My life looks very different than I imagined it would when I was 22 years old. I have made the best decisions I was capable of at the time or that I simply felt I had to do. Yet it was all a leap of faith. Now I arrive at 46 with an accumulation of decisions over time. As I look to my left and to my right I am delighted with where I am and very surprised at the same time.
Witnessing the struggle of my daughter as she navigates her way into early adulthood takes me back to that time in my life. She is working so hard to “get it right” in ways that I did not, while at the same time she strives to have the skills that I have today. She forgets that I am where I am today due to 20+ years of actions, choices, and relationships. You don’t get to simply arrive with the skills without the work. She intellectually knows this, yet taking the first steps in a very long journey can be daunting and defeating. Buck up my dear one, the road is long but worth every step you take. Let’s not forget, she did not know me at 22 years old, nor did she witness my struggles in the transition she is in right now. By the time she can remember me I was already 8 years into my journey to adulthood. I certainly was still struggling, but I was further down the road than she is now.
20+ years of micro-decisions have brought me to a life that has almost nothing in it that I believed I wanted at 22 years old. Elements of my life that align with my 22-year-old desires are motherhood, physically active and that I have a dog. EVERYTHING else is different! If someone had told me when I was 22 that at the age of 46 I would be single, renting a room, working in temporary jobs all over the country, and traveling alone most of the time; I would have considered myself a failure. For this reason, I am so glad we can’t see the future. I revealed that to my daughter, she paused to consider this and took a deep breath. Hopefully, she is able to relax for a moment, and just start with a micro-decision to put her best self first. Life has a way of working itself out, but our participation is required.
If you want to be fiscally responsible in 20 years you must start today. If you want to be physically active in 20 years, you have to move your body in some way today. If you want relationships that are loving in 20 years, create a healthy relationship with yourself today. I really wish I had understood the one about a self-relationship at 22. It took me many more years to embrace that. Yet, I am excited to see what 20+ years from now will look like with regards to amazing relationships in my life because of the micro decisions I make every day now. It is NEVER too late to make a shift in decisions. We just have to remember that the true outcome may take 20+ years to really see it’s potential.
In for the long haul