Tuesday, June 24, 2014

For the People I Know Who Feel the Same Way.

Recently (and by recently I suppose I mean since the advent of the internet) there have been lists of things going around the web. Lists like 14 Things I Wish I Knew Before College, 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Full-Time Job and 25 Things I Wish I Knew and Did Before I Turned 25. There is always some value to these lists, and overall I enjoy reading them. I have even learned a thing or two from just such a list before.

But there's one thing about some of these lists that really bugs me.

One making its way around the world wide web right now is called What I Know Now at 29. I clicked on it because, hey, I'm 29 (at least for a couple more weeks), let's see if I know this stuff too. There were a lot of things on this list I agreed with and thought were great statements, such as

3. If you are lucky, your mom and dad will still be around. If you are really lucky, you will find yourself closer to them than ever before. If you are the luckiest of all, they will be the two most precious people in your life.

and

20. I have come to realize that most of the time, people are just doing the best they can. That might not be the best I can or the best I would like them to do, but it's the best they can do. Patience really is a virtue.

But there's always one on almost every list it seems that says something like the following:

5. Eventually, the most fun nights will be the ones with your loved ones in PJs, or at home with friends and family, a bottle of wine and maybe even their baby.

This is actually one of the less innocuous-sounding ones, and I do understand she said "friends" and family, but it's the most current example I came across. Here's the thing -- there are probably a lot of 29-year-olds (and 30-year-olds, and 35-year-olds, etc.) who would love nothing more than to spend their Saturday evenings at home with their loved ones or baby. But unfortunately, some of us have only ourselves to spend Saturday nights with if all we do is stay home. Some of us only have friends with kids or families or significant others, and they're not about drinking wine at our houses on Saturday nights. So as overjoyed as we'd be to skip the bar scene and stay home with our loved ones, we're not able to.

Sometimes what you saw in your head 10 years ago is not at all what your life looks like now. And if that's your reality it's okay to be sad about that for a little while. There might always be some grieving for the life you thought you'd have, but the important thing is not to grieve eternally, but to realize what is awesome about the life you do have. And if you got married at 23 and have two kids and your life looks an awful lot like you thought it would at your current age, then I am so happy for you, but I ask you to dig deep for some empathy and consider what it might be like to have the COMPLETELY opposite experience and wonder why God has left you out.

Both experiences are valid and have meaning.

And that's what I know now, at 29.

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