Thursday, July 25, 2013

From 16 to 26: A Reflection on Teenage Expectations

My twenty-sixth birthday is in just a few days, and I keep thinking about something I said when I was sixteen.

I remember I was part of a conversation about life in ten years with my youth group at church.  All the girls said something very similar: they would like to be married and have a baby.  I don't particularly remember saying that I wanted to have children at twenty-six, but I did expect to be married to a hot husband, have a cute apartment, and be a successful lawyer.

This conversation has been cycling through my thoughts lately.  As I get ready in the mornings, I wonder what my sixteen-year-old self would have to say about the person that I am at twenty-six.  Teenage Holly would probably be impressed with the fact that I own a house, but disappointed that I don't have a pool and my bedroom isn't painted purple.  She would think that my boyfriend is ridiculously good looking, but wonder why there is no ring.  She would be disappointed that I became a teacher, especially considering she vehemently argued she never would.  She would be happy that I'm not overweight because that was always one of her biggest fears, but she would be disappointed that I rarely paint my nails.

I think about who I was a sixteen, and I wish I could tell her that one day she will come into her own.  I would advise her to not view life so superficially.  Explain there will be hard times, times where she will severely doubt herself, but eventually everything will fall into place.  I feel grateful that I did not become the person I hoped I would; that "dream" person was designed by someone who didn't understand what was to come.

I think the older I get, the more open I am to allowing life to just happen.  That doesn't mean to let go of responsibilities, but to stop agonizing over what might be and what could be.  Simply try to enjoy the moment for what it is and adapt to life's fluctuations as they come.

I may not fit the mold that I once created for myself, but I feel proud of who I have become.  I have a career in which I can help others grow, a loving and supportive family, a boyfriend who is abundantly patient and unwavering, and friends with hearts of gold.  I am far more successful than I could have ever imagined.

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