2016 is Halfway Over?
I never imagined I’d spend my 24th year in bed.
Well, maybe I did, but in my imagination it was maybe in a more fun way involving traveling to Europe and meeting a whimsical Italian man and spending my 24th year in his bed.
Or not. Sorry, mom and dad.
But seriously–– I just saw a tweet about how “2016 is halfway over!” and I went slightly insane. The Crohn’s flare from hell started for me in early February, which means I’ve officially been sick for 5 out of the 6 months of this year. Not exactly the New Years Wish I had in mind, you know?
But, I think it also says some important things about expectations. And how we need to get rid of them all together. Possibly a dramatic statement, but bear with me. Whether you’re sick or not, everyone my age seems to be rushing around, worrying they’re going to miss out on something. Some magazine somewhere once called it FOMO and that stuck in the way annoying acronyms do, so let’s call it that.
Which is to say that we only feel like we’re missing out because we subscribe to some random belief that there’s a certain set of experiences we should be having and that if we aren’t having them, we’re somehow doing life wrong. If we aren’t traveling the world at 21, we’ll be bitter old people one day who talk about how we never got high in Amsterdam when we had the chance. If we aren’t at the top of our career game by 25, we’re probably doomed to mediocre cold-calling jobs for life. If we aren’t going on dates every weekend, or having babies, then we aren’t living up to expectations.
Consider this, though: whose expectations are they? Are they honestly your own, or are they just expectations you have because tv and movies and your great aunt made you think there’s a timeline on which life must be properly lived?
Being forced to spend the first half of my 24th year in bed has taught me a little bit about priorities, and about throwing those expectations and five year plans out the window. Now, instead of asking myself “what do I need to do today to be on track so I don’t miss anything?” I tend to think more along the lines of: “what can I do today to be happy?” And honestly, it’s a shift in thinking that has made a world of difference.
I still want to have a job I love. I still want to have some major achievements, like getting a book published. I still want to get married, and have babies, and travel. I still want to have fun experiences like publicly urinating at a music festival or something else young people are supposed to do. But I’m no longer going to rush it and worry about the timeline.
And if some of those things don’t happen for me? That’s okay too, because there’s a very wise quote out there that goes something like “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” So instead of rushing through life trying to do everything, I might take a nap. Or watch Orange is the New Black. Or play with my cats. And all those little happy moments will amount to a pretty cool life.