When I’m in my 20s, I’ll go to university and get a degree. I’ll travel the world and learn several languages. I’ll fall in love and we’ll never argue, we’ll always be happy and I’ll never feel hurt. I’m going to own so many pets, it’s not even funny. I’ll definitely do lots of charity work and make a real difference in the world. I’ll buy a big, lovely house and never be worried about paying it off.
Oh, hi 20s! Wow, things really aren’t going to plan.
The truth is, I thought my 20s were going to be epic (as many of us do when we’re young). I had a perfect vision of a perfect life as the perfect woman and perfect couldn’t even really describe how perfect it would be.
Am I disappointed to be in my 20s with a degree I didn’t plan on getting, insufficient funds for much travel, a lovely (but at times, difficult) relationship, no pets, a definite lack of charity work and absolutely no house buying plans?
Am I worried because the things I’m most proud of include learning how to cook, exercising a few times a week and working hard to cover the costs of living?
Do I wish things were different, that I’d made other choices and worked harder to get my perfect life?
Growing up, I was the biggest fan of Disney movies. Ok, I’m still the biggest fan of Disney movies. I love the songs, I love the princesses, I love the romance, I love the adventures. It’s a tough choice, but Beauty and the Beast was my favourite movie and it’s not hard to see why I thought I’d grow up to magically obtain my perfect life. Sure, Belle goes through some tough times but in the end, she has the gorgeous prince, wonderful friends and a huge castle to live in, happily ever after (not to mention the amazing wardrobe and THAT gold dress!).
I’m glad that my life goals were largely based on fairytales because I imagined myself achieving some great things and as a result, I’ve worked much harder than I probably would have. However, there comes a time where it’s important to realise that goals are not the be all and end all. Your picture of the perfect life will change and it takes courage to choose a new path.
My point is, life won’t go to plan. Things that you wish for might never happen or they could take much longer than you expected. It’s easy to feel disappointed and beat yourself up because you’re not exactly where you want to be and if you are, it’s probably not as great as you imagined.
These days, there’s even more to work towards because we don’t just have pretend princesses to idolise. Social media has given us all access to each other’s lives and there’s some serious pressure to maintain our appearances. Someone scrolling through my Instagram might think I spend the majority of my time practicing yoga, eating healthy foods, going out to cafes and taking fun trips.
Let me tell you, the majority of my life is not spent like that! I work five days a week and get home around 4.30pm. I might exercise, then make dinner, have a shower and watch some television in bed. Taking a photo is a few seconds out of my life. A photo of a celebrity is a few seconds out of their lives too. Obviously these moments are nice ones and something we want to remember, but these moments are generally not a constant reality and photos do not represent our whole lives.
I could easily feel disappointed if I spend much time comparing my life to the photos on Instagram or thinking about what I used to imagine my 20s would be like. But why would I focus on the “what ifs” and the “shoulds” and the “why, why, WHYS” when I could be appreciating writing this blog post or sipping my cup of tea?
So what do I expect of the rest of my 20s? Of my 30s? And 40s and so on?
I don’t know. Now, that’s exciting.
Rachael’s incredible blog, My Balanced Living, is filled with advice and ideas on living a more balanced life, whether it be through managing stress using mindfulness, staying positive, living a healthier lifestyle, staying active – or all of the above!