I was sitting one evening, about 6 months ago, with someone I had met recently, having one of those conversations that can only be had with someone new because they are saying things is no one has ever said to you before. What he said was largely irrelevant (not to disregard it completely – I will always be grateful to him for this conversation), but the thoughts that his opinions catalysed for me are where the magic happened.
We were discussing life in your twenties, which I am and was at the time. As someone in his early thirties, this particular person had had some of the most eventful, impactful, successful and prolific twenties of anyone I have ever met. It became apparent to him in the brief time we spent together leading up to this conversation that I was someone whose twenties were being utterly ruined and wasted by my feelings of not having achieved enough. By nature, I am incredibly tough on myself. I always have been. He was right: I absolutely did feel like I hadn’t achieved enough and in constantly beating myself up I was thwarting what should have been some of the most enjoyable years of my life. I was taking myself, and life, far too seriously.
Now perhaps I have given him a little too much credit for bringing this to light for me. The truth of it is that the penny dropped in my own mind as a result of my own processing. He was talking about the hard work he had put into his twenties and how, on arriving at his thirties, things had become less tumultuous and trying and more about enjoying the fruits of his labour, both professionally and self-developmentally. In that moment, listening to him talk about how great his recent ascent into his thirties had been, I found myself thinking about how eager I was to have my very disruptive and taxing twenties over and done with. How I resented my twenties and how badly I wanted this epoch to be over. The thought was fleeting because years of self-development work – and the iron fist with which I rule my own thoughts – would never allow me to wallow in that sort of self-pity for very long. Immediately I realised how depressing that ephemeral thought was and when I said it out loud, to someone refreshingly open-minded, it became even more clear to me how I had spent 27 years wishing I was at a different stage of my life, and never once I had I stopped to enjoy the stage I was in.
This attitude towards life phases extends beyond just age and time periods. It applies to my attitude towards being at school; I wanted a career already. My attitude towards life at home with my parents; I wanted to live alone already. My youthful relationships with boys, and then men; I wanted to be married with children already, not dating. The list goes on. Nothing has ever made me happy just being the way it is. In a way, I spent 27 years waiting for my life to be done.
Things have been very different for me since that night and that conversation. Since meeting that one person, in fact. Psychologically, I always knew and understood the theories of being present, enjoying each moment for what it was, living for now, but it occurs to me now that I had never actually known what it felt like to truly live that way. Since having this awakening, I have an absolute love for this life, a love I never had before. I have completely and utterly fallen head over heels in love with my life just the way it is. Moreover, I have a far clearer picture of what I need to do now in order to have things later down the road that I want, while still enjoying every step of the process as it happens and understanding that I will one day have those things, just not right now. I cannot tell you how beautifully I see the world today. The same world that was always around me but now I look at it differently. And it’s magical. Truly breath-taking. My life, as it is today, is breath taking and exactly the way it should be.