Life Isn’t a To-Do List

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When I was growing up, I’m talking my childhood through teen years (maybe even some of my early naive college years), I had my 20s planned out. I was going to have an amazing job, be married by 26 and kids by 29-30. At 12, 16 and let’s face it, even at 20, 26 and 29 seemed really far away. And let’s be serious, half our girl friends (and maybe our guy friends) are sitting there making the same plan. I remember one day making the comment that 27 was old to be getting married…a comment my cousin who was just getting married at that age didn’t appreciate too much. Can’t blame her.

However, at some point I realized that those plans you make at 12, 16 and even 20 probably aren’t exactly how life is going to go. It was sometime shortly after college that I realized that you go from your life being a grade that you are in or year you are completing in college to what phase you’re sitting in. After college, for most of us it was girls weekends at the beach and football games at Penn State and just having a good time together wherever that was.

Then someone gets married. Yep, I’m talking about you Lauren!

I remember my squeal of delight in Pickles when Lauren showed me her ring. I remember her making decisions about dates, venues, dresses, you name it. We were 25, only a year ago. I remember at the bachelorette we were talking about relationships and age and marriage and Lauren commented, “Sometimes I think 25 is really young to get married. And then I realize I’m 25 and getting married.” And let’s be serious, it’s not really that young. Women used to get married at 16, actually some people still do that. But, I digress.

So with that, my life had entered what we’ll dub the “Marriage Phase”. Melissa was next and she was married this past summer in another lovely ceremony on a picture perfect day. Who’s next? Well, we’re not sure, but I doubt it will be long before another one of my girls gives me a call with the news that will absolutely never get old and that will always elicit a squeal of delight!

As I move through this phase, now at age 26 and rapidly approaching age 27, I’ve started to notice more and more the wedding announcements and the beginning of the next phase, which often follows marriage…the “Baby Phase”. I don’t know what it is about 2012, but the number of people having kids or announcing they’re expecting seems to be growing at an insanely high rate. I’ll refrain from jokes about Fifty Shades of Gray. Regardless, these phases are just the first two of many more, such as the “House-buying Phase” or the  “Round Two of Kids Phase” and then whatever happens next. I guess that’s when we post pictures of our kids on their first day of school on our Facebook walls.

Anyway, I sometimes catch myself feeling like I’m stuck in a phaseless time period. I’m not getting married and definitely not having kids any time soon. I’m not even buying a house. Am I lost? No, I don’t think so. I know where I am, even though I might not be able to attach a name to where that place is. I have a job, I’ve started grad school, I have someone in my life who cares deeply for me, I have a supportive family and truly wonderful friends, and I’m making an effort to set and achieve some goals for myself.

I think it’s really easy at this point in my life to get caught up in comparing where I am in these phase or phaseless times to where my friends currently sit. It’s hard not to feel like you’re falling behind. And then I think about those plans I was making at 12, 16 and 20 and realize I’m quite off.

But that’s ok. In fact, it’s more than ok. I’m a planner and always have been. I like to-do lists and  I like to check things off those to-do lists. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing things every day. I like deadlines and reaching goals. I like order and for things to be clean and where they belong.

However, life isn’t a to-do list and can’t be limited by a plan. Well, I guess it can be, but more often than not things aren’t going to go according to that plan. I like to be in control. I’m not afraid to admit that. But, what I’m learning as time goes by, and my plans have to be adjusted time and time again, is that that’s perfectly ok. And that’s the beauty of life. It isn’t meant to be limited by a plan (especially one you made at age 12).

Maybe I feel lost or left behind sometimes, but in reality I’m not. I know where I am and I’m moving forward. Sometimes it feels slower than I  think it should be, but I’m still moving forward. And knowing that, I feel pretty darn good.

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