The Trouble With Following Your Own Path
I had seven bridesmaids. Two of them are my twenty three year old sisters. The other 5 will all have children by this October. Actually, 4 out of the 5 are currently pregnant and one just had her second child a few months ago. I keep thinking: what a happy anomaly! All of my friends will have kids the same age!
I am truly happy for them. But then I look at myself: living abroad, spending my time not even remotely trying to get pregnant, traveling 2 weeks out of every month, and treating dogs like human children. When I told Michael that all of my friends were pregnant, and wow, isn't that crazy?! He looked and me and said, “It's time.” I kind of hate when he acts wise and know it all, but it's true. We are 30 years old. The normal thing to do is to have kids, start a real family, create a legacy.
But for whatever reason, my brain missed that memo. I honestly look at myself sometimes and wonder: why don't you want that?
I don't believe in doing things because others are too. If I did, I'd be working on having kids right now. I know that bearing children is one of the most amazing things the human body can do. I look up to my Mom fiercely. I applaud all those that are trying to have kids, raising them, or are pregnant right now. Let me tell you clearly: this post is not about whether having kids is wrong or right. It's clearly the right thing to do for you, and one of the most incredible achievements. This post is my internal struggle that my path might not be the same.
Having a family is beautiful, inspirational, and necessary for the continuation of the human race. But I can’t help but wrestle with one specific question when it comes to this topic. That question is “Why?” Why am I not on this path?
The hard part, that I think many don't realize, is that following your own path can feel very lonely sometimes. Yes, I have friends and yes I've made friends, but people have no idea what it's been like. And… many just don't ask. How difficult, drawn-out, and taxing it was. Or how we don't have the comforts of home, we don't know the language, and how I can't even find a normal ice tray. But because this path is so different I know people might not understand or even think to ask.
As a society we tend to be arrogant about age. We do almost everything we can to prevent it, but we should celebrate growing old and doing what we want with life. I am terrible at trying to move past my age and what I've accomplished so far. Often, I worry that I haven't achieved enough with my life. But the truth is I am living out my dream, even if it's fraught with hardships.
I think the true key to happiness is to do what you love. Whether that is having kids, traveling, owning a home, or something totally off the wall. I will fully admit that I'm hard headed. I tend to not understand why people don't want the same things I do. Why spend money on a designer purse when you could come visit me abroad? Why rack up a bar tab when you could take a trip? I'm starting to understand that the fact that we all want different things out of life makes us who we are. It's what makes the world so interesting and it also means the line at the Colosseum won't be quite as long. We all have a personal calling in life, and I think mine might be seeing the world a bit differently.
I used to be and I AM terrified of change. If you can believe it, I am a homebody. Despite the fact that I left home and moved to a country that I've never stepped foot in, I hate leaving home. I'm beginning to understand that change is necessary and good, and it can bring about the best. There's safety in consistency, but by not taking the chances that you want to live your dream life is terrifying. Even more terrifying is the thought of going to a job you hate everyday, making that commute you hate, or living a life that just isn't fulfilling.
We tend to think in life in terms of the crossing off our to do list: graduate college, get a great job, get married, buy a home, have kids, cross the white picket fence finish line. But life doesn't have to be that specific. We can choose our own path.
I think I'm somewhere in between. Yes, that is cliche because this blog is called Helene in Between, but I love a good cliche. I can tell you that this journey of moving abroad has been one of the absolute hardest things I've ever done in my life. I hope to write a blog post one day that fully explains why in interesting details. But that's not what this post is about. Despite this being difficult, I am currently the happiest I've ever been.
I think it's essential to keep asking why. Why settle in life? Work to do what makes you feel alive. Whatever that is.