I sat on my couch the other week committed to not committing to another streaming television series. I’ve joined a book club, I’m in the midst of Game of Thrones and awaiting The Handmaid's Tale, and I refuse to let myself plummet into a new seven season show. With that, I brought myself back to an evening with Joey Potter, and the boy across the creek. This particular episode of Dawson’s Creek witnessed their college application process, and the end-all-be-all question,“where do you want to be in five years?” I found myself initially laughing at the dramatic weight Joey was putting on herself and what her future would hold. However, my laughter ceased when I realized I was (and still am) the mirror image of one, Josephine Potter.
In high school I planned to go to college for music, graduate and go directly to graduate school. I would then plan to graduate by age 25 with my Masters. 5 year plan step one: complete. In 2014, I graduated with my Master of Science degree and was determined to identify my chosen population, find purposeful work, and launch my own company. 5 year plan step two: complete.
I recently celebrated my 30th birthday, and have had the last few weeks to reflect on what that number means to me and my overarching life plan. This morning, social media reminded me that I graduated from grad school five years ago and that it’s time for me to identify the third installment of my 5 year life plan. However, this installment doesn't feel as black and white as the last two. The clean cut transition from high school to college was a breeze. The move from internship to graduate school seemed like a no-brainer. Even the step from graduate school to “life” was essentially just what followed next.
Now? Now, we’re in a social media- life on blast-comparison driven-minimalist vs. six figure salary-world in which I feel like I not only need to identify my step-three, but that this goal oriented life plan needs to be perfect, idealistic, and generally comparable to the life of a typical 30-something woman. You know what has taken me two life plans and a whole lot of sweat and tears to say?
In 2019 there is no “typical 30-something woman” life plan, and if there is I don’t want it. As recent as last night, tear filled eyes at the kitchen table, I discussed the next five years, and was informed I was getting in my own way by focusing on the prospect of something not happening vs. honoring what is happening right now. Some of my friends are having babies, some are buying homes, and no matter where they are in their life plan they criticize their age, timeline etc. Enough. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I’d personally like to plant some flowers on my side of the fence and work with what I have. Do I have a few ideals of what I’d like to happen in my life in the next five years? Absolutely. Am I going to make myself sick over the idea that my life and ideals are different than that of the “typical 30-something woman” and somehow result in feeling less-than? Absolutely not.
The challenges women are facing right now in defense of their own rights and the right to their own bodies, to put it frankly, is absurd. Yet, here we are. As if it isn’t hard enough to defend our basic human rights, we continue to compare and pressure ourselves to fit the idealistic mold of what society tells us we “should be.” To society, by 30 years old I “should be” married, own my own home, pregnant with my first, if not second child, and put all my attention on the American dream, ensuring my white picket fence is straight. To clarify, if that is your dream and ideal life, please go for it! I only point out the societal pressure to become only that person, and to only live that life. I for one, am content with a loving relationship, a purposeful and rewarding career, and the ability and freedom to travel the world both professionally and personally. And all though I adore children, I personally don’t want any of my own...and that's okay. Your opinions and judgments of my life decisions are none of my business, and I personally don’t want to hear them.
As my girl Jane Austen wrote, I just want a life wherein I am “completely and perfectly and incandescently happy,” and I want it on my own terms. Here’s to the next five years, and whatever that is meant to be.