Trash The Timeline
No matter what age you are, the pressure to keep up with everyone’s expectations is REAL. That being said, I remember my late 20s being particularly hard for me. I think it’s the same for a lot of people. EDP contributing writer, Marissa (who is in her late 20s) put together this beautiful post about TRASHING THE TIMELINE and LIVING FOR YOU. Keep scrolling for all the goodness; it’s a great read no matter where you are in life. xx - Ashley
Milestones can sometimes feel more like markers of failure instead of accomplishments to add to your self-growth resume. They’re meant to mark a significant progression in your personal marathon of life and, with imaginary deadlines set forth by society, not meeting them can feel like you’re running away from the finish line. When my grandparents were graduating high school, it was often found that people married young, settled into their careers and followed some clear-cut ‘life timeline’ that society had created. This commonplace behavior began to change, but the expectation of this timeline didn’t follow suit. When I was 16 years old, I created my own timeline. It looked something like this:
Graduate high school
Career right out of college
Engaged by 25
Married by 27
Kids by 30
I wholeheartedly regret all the time I’ve wasted stressing over these imaginary benchmarks. Each year that passed, I grew more anxious that it seemed like I was moving in the opposite direction of my ‘timeline.’ I’m pretty sure I spent my 26th birthday having a blast with my friends, only to come home and cry on my bed while I drunk-dialed all of my exes to see how they felt about taking me back. [Side note: thank god none of them picked up.] If you can’t empathize, I applaud you for having your shit together. Either that, or you’re in denial. Suffice it to say, I woke up the next morning under a warm blanket of shame and took a good hard look in the mirror. It wasn’t pretty. Why was I giving this timeline so much power over my life? More importantly, if I didn’t meet these ridiculous time markers, was I more worried about disappointing myself or someone else?
I grew out of my original timeline and deliberately chose not to make a new one.
I began to look for inspiration in women who were leading fulfilling lives by focusing on themselves and living on their own terms. My focus became less about trying to find a man and more about prioritizing what I love. I chose to remain open to inspiration on a daily basis. I said yes to more things that excited me and hell no to things that simply didn’t. I took inventory of my life, including friends and routines, and cut out the ones that weren’t lifting me up. The most important step I took in getting myself out from underneath the weight of my own pressure was giving less power to what people thought of me. Let me tell you, this frees up so much space in your mental hard drive.
I became a better version of myself by taking the power back that I had so freely given away since high school. It was freeing to go on a date and not have to look at a guy through the lens of marriage, or to take the internship at 25 because it was something that excited me instead of feeling like I was too old to be an intern. I’ve had some of my best dates with men who weren’t right for marriage and I’m one step closer to finding where I want to be in my career because of that internship.
Give yourself permission to stop living by a preconceived timeline, whether you made it for yourself or let other people make it for you.
If you consider the sheer magnitude of people on this Earth and how each person will do life differently than you, then that’s proof enough that timelines are not one size fits all. Is it important to set goals for yourself? Of course. Continue to work for that promotion or learn more about where you are in your reproductive health journey. All the things you want in your life are worthy of the work you put into them, but take an objective look at where these wants come from. If you shed societal norms, parental pressures and fear of disapproving friends from the equation, are you left with a list of goals that are 100% you? If you answered yes, go get ‘em tiger. Cultivating hobbies, nurturing friendships, cherishing time spent with family, and emphasizing any opportunity for self-growth are all extremely important elements of living a good life. Also key to living the good life? Appreciating that you have everything you need, even when you don’t have everything you want. Straight from the queens of As Your Friend podcast.
My list of goals has shifted on a monthly basis lately but the one line item that has remained the same? To be happy. - Marissa
P:S: if you’re in need of a friend to help get you through this weird stage of life, Ashley + Eddie talk a lot about what they wish they could’ve told their 20 yr. old selves in their recent As Your Friend Podcast Episode: What We Learned in our 20s. It’s super refreshing and has some great insight!