Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Early 20's Trap: Waiting For Your Life to Begin

Scrolling through facebook updates it sometimes seems as if all my old high school classmates are getting married, buying homes, and starting families. When I look through my favorite blogs I see young families with babies, new homes, and amazing pictures from their weddings.
If I look into this too long I start to feel as if I'm behind, I start to think that the things I'm doing now are insignificant compared to the things I'll do when I start my own family. I start daydreaming about how my life will be perfect as soon as I get married, or buy a house, or start a family, etc. etc. etc.

I start feeling as if I'm just waiting for my "real life" to begin. This is what I like to call the "Early 20's Trap". Too many of my friends have told me they feel the same way. They are just going through the motions until their "real life" starts. After thinking about the topic for a long time, I wanted to share with you my strategies for getting out of this thinking trap.

When I worry about anything the best thing for me to do to calm my nerves is to explore all options of the situation. Applying it to the Early 20's Trap I asked myself Why isn't getting married right for me? Why can't I buy a house? Why do all my friends get to start living the life I want? Here's what I came up with:

I've realized that getting married isn't so much a task on a list to growing up, it's more of a personal decision about who you want to live the rest of your life with. When I'm really jealous of the beautiful wedding pictures, invitations, and dresses I see my friends posting about I like to think "You're being immature, you'll end up divorced, you're too young!" When I actually think about it logically marriage is the right thing for these people, or rather what they think is right for them. Instead of getting jealous and spouting off mean judgements I'm training myself to say "That's what's working for them, but it can't work for me right now." Mostly because I don't know who I would marry. Of course, I love to picture myself married to John (who doesn't love to do that when thinking about their boyfriend?) but, we've only been dating for about six months. Although it feels like he might be "the one" I can't know for certain yet. I'm excited to find out!

Buying a house ties in again with the timing thing. I'm not ready to get married and I'm not read to buy a house. I simply don't have the financial means to buy a house right now! Renting is what makes the most sense for me. In my "plan" for growing up I see myself getting married before I buy a house, or at least being engaged. I also have no idea where I want to be located for my future career. I need to find out where I can settle down before I settle down. This is another time where I have to try to think "This is what is working for them in their lives, but can't work for me in mine."

I love children, I've always loved children. I used to nanny and it was one of my favorite jobs. While nannying of course I daydreamed about how I would raise my own children, what parenting styles I would use, what types of discipline, how I would teach them life lessons, everything! It seems like everyone I know is having babies, even ladies younger than me. In order to get out of the crazy baby fever that I was experiencing I had to dive a little deeper into their lifestyles and really look at what they were doing. Most of these ladies still lived at home with their parents or planned to do so after their babies were born, most were unmarried, most were not going to college and working part time jobs in my home town, and most were relying on their family's support financially in order to support this new life. There is nothing wrong with any of these things! These ladies are using their resources and fighting the world to raise their babies and I give them a lot of respect for that! however, These are not the circumstances I wanted to be in when having my first child. I want to be married first, settled into a home, and hopefully (at least a little) financially stable. Once again I have to remind myself it's not my time yet.

Although you might not be ready to get married, buy a house, start a career, have a baby, or many of the other things you're super excited for, you don't have to feel like you're waiting around. You can start your real life now!

What do you want your career to be? work towards it.

Wish you could make a home but can't buy a house? make your apartment into a home and not just a place you are staying in.

Catching baby fever? try babysitting, nannying, or volunteering with children.

Feeling left behind by friends? try making more friends who are in the same position as you.

Feel like you're just going through the motions? try to start living your life intentionally. Try out new activities and hobbies you've always wanted to try. Check out your community, shop local, scope out a farmer's market. Feeling connected to your community will take your mind of the vicious school, work, sleep, repeat schedule.

Don't ever feel like you should rush into any of these major life changing decisions so that your "real life" can start. I know a few older people who have stories about getting into the wrong situation because they were "playing house". Think of it as a time you have to do whatever you want before settling down. Find a current motivator for your life, challenge your boundaries, and explore, explore, explore!

photo credits:
1. mine

If you know the original sources (not just pinterest) for images 2 and 3 let me know and I'll add them!


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