Expectations and Reality: Can You Really “Have the Best of Both Worlds?”

A wise woman once said, “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock,” and I attempt to live by that mantra, but I always find myself wondering if I am making enough of my life, if I am making it rock. To my defense, I do not have a limo out front, hottest styles, or shoes in every color, and with today’s society, it seems impossible to simply live your life (hey! ay ay ay) since there are so many vehicles available to transport you to jealousy and longing.

While scrolling, I come across several people my age or younger, that seem to have more fulfilling lives. What makes their lives more fulfilling? Perhaps it is the amount of likes attached to their post. Or maybe the fact that they have achieved a milestone that I am still waiting on (I saw someone my age become a homeowner, and rather than feeling joy for her, my selfish mind demanded to know why she was one , and I was not). Could it be their awe-inspiring shots of places that I can only imagine?

Me on social media living my best life.

And I know that social media tends to be a place to share achievements rather than disappointments, highlighting the best of one’s life rather than accurately reflect their current status (I mean, there are even countless articles circulating online to instruct users how to practice humility when posting about their triumphs). I have yet to see a photo captioned, “After working my ass off to get my degree, I am happy to announce that I did not get my dream job.” No one wants to immortalize their failures because setbacks are meant to be stepping stones in our journey, not a destination. Even with all of this in mind, I still find myself drawing comparisons.

Most of us develop a plan for our life, but what happens when the plan goes awry? As I mentioned earlier, we don’t share it. Instead we mention our wishes, hopes, and dreams. The failures only seep their way into a post when surrounded by an accomplishment. Something along the lines of, “I remember standing in the rain everyday waiting for my bus to arrive. On my fourth birthday, my party was cancelled because a flood warning was issued. For years, I asked for better conditions, only to be denied. Ten years later and I am proud to announce that I am the rain and nothing will ever rain on my parade again.” Would we have heard the anecdote about the fourth birthday if the last sentence did not occur? When a dream comes true, suddenly “life’s what you make it.” Yet when faced with adversary, life is simply out of our control.

I used to think that by this age, I would have a family and a home of my own, and while I have come to terms that motherhood does not have to be an expectation for myself, I still find myself mulling over how different my reality is from what I previously envisioned.  I began my career at 23, something that I envisioned since I was eight years-old, yet I still feel like a failure. I feel as if I have not done enough. I am a quarter of a century old, but I don’t feel as if I have lived that long. I feel most valued when I am a productive – this is why I am a workaholic. During my “off-days,” I can be found laying on the couch binge-watching. Watching fictional lives instead of living my own. I tell myself that there has to be more. What kind of life consists of being an observer? Yet what else is there? Eventually, most things become a routine, but I suppose it is up to us to break the cycle (life is cyclical though, so maybe living in a cycle is simply ascribing to “living”).

I think part of me is waiting for when I “make it.” Not like reaching stardom – but just a moment where I place that final jigsaw piece and feel complete. I see stories about celebrities that rose during their later years to remind us that “there is still time.” That my “moment is coming.” Sometimes I feel that these stories are propelled to generate wishful thinking. To appease the masses that their big break is right around the corner as long as they continue to strive. Hence articles entitled, “35 Celebrities Who Became Famous Later in Life & Proved Giving Up Wasn’t an Option.” But what if it’s all bullshit? What if there is no major turning point in my life? While that may sound depressing to some, it relieves a lot of unnecessary pressure. There are many things that I want to achieve in my life. I want to travel the world. I want to own my own home. I want to publish a successful book. I want to make a difference. I want to open up a tutoring center. Maybe instead of sighing over all that I have yet to achieve, I should acknowledge what has been done. Maybe it’s best that the piece is never placed because can one truly live if life becomes complete?

giphyI need to remind myself that although we are all living, we are not expected to lead the same lives. I need to remember that there are no standards that I should be meeting. That my age is not an indicator of what should be occurring in my life. That another person’s success does not translate into a failure of mine. That online, we are all glamorous Hannah Montanas trying to hide the fact that our true identity is Miley Stewart. And in the end, Miley prevails as Hannah becomes nothing more than a blonde wig tossed in the wind.

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