My generation is plagued with the idea that we are never where we should be; in our careers, financially, in love, in what our home looks like, in life. Maybe (hopefully) we don’t feel all those at once, but the years of post-college life are usually peppered with phases of extreme hardship on ourselves for feeling like we’re not where we should be in some facet of our lives. We had a plan, an idyllic timeline of how things should play out. We should be this age when X happens. We should be achieving this goal, by X point in our lives. And if reality doesn’t match up with the timeline we conceived in our heads, it’s hard to enjoy the present for what it is when we’re so busy fretting about the future.
But then 2020 happened. And I felt this collective sigh from people my age because no matter what we thought we wanted to have happen by 2020, no matter what we told ourselves we will achieve by the end of that year, it all got put on hold. We all got a get-out-of-jail-free card from the cell we were putting ourselves in to just…be. We were able to pause our comparisons because we were all in the same boat of not being able to do anything but get through each day one day at a time. For once our inner critic was able to go on vacation while our only worry was just about surviving. All we really could do was be present.
As 2020 went on and we realized things weren’t going back to “normal” like we thought they would, that this was in fact the new normal, we all started to do the same thing: we indulged in the little things. We started to focus more on the small things that make up our life. We started baking, and going on walks more, and soaking up nature, and being so grateful and communicating that to the people in our lives. And while there were still some “big picture” things that kept us up at night, like the election or overwhelming Covid statistics, we kept returning to all the little things that make us happy.
So as I would curl up with the latte I learned to make this year, or water the plants I spent time learning how to not kill, or sit on the couch laughing so hard with my best friend about a stupid video, or closed my laptop after writing something I wanted to write just for fun, it weighed so heavy on me in the most enlightening way: it’s about the becoming. It’s the everyday-ness of our lives and being present in it that adds up. It’s about the becoming of who you are, which is actually ever-changing. We’ve heard so many times throughout life that happiness is not a destination, it’s something that comes from within. It’s about being happy along the journey of life and not waiting until you arrive somewhere, because even then we’ll strive for what’s next. It’s about being present and enjoying it and leaning into the deeper knowing that no matter the timeline you had in your head, you are exactly where you need to be. We can have goals and set deadlines, but accept that sometimes things change. We can know that we are exactly where we need to be, because what’s for us won’t miss us. And anything that doesn’t work out, that didn’t go according to plan, is just a redirection—not a rejection.
I think we learn lessons over and over again, in different ways and for different reasons. I’m not saying I’ll never worry about where I “should” be in life again, but I am acknowledging that 2020 shifted my perspective in a way I hope to return to again and again. Be present, as often and as intentionally as you can. Know that you are exactly where you should be. And enjoy your becoming, now and forever.