Married at 25.
Kids by 30.
Move back to the suburbs or maybe Hoboken after a bunch of years in the city and buy a house.
Have a job as a magazine editor and leave it to stay at home with kids and work on my book.
That’s what I thought my life plan was.
Not single at 36.
With a dead mom.
Giving my sweet dog up two years ago just before my mom died.
Renting a one-bedroom apartment.
Two suicide attempts.
Six weeks at a residential mental health treatment facility.
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and having to take three daily psych meds just to achieve some level of baseline.
But I also didn’t think I’d ever live in California (though I’d always dreamed of it.) I didn’t think I’d travel to all of the continents but three, stamping my passport ~10 times in the past twoish years. I didn’t think I’d ever have enough work to have a steady freelance income. I didn’t think I’d pick up three fitness certifications along the way.
For so, so long, I tried my best to be the Theodora I thought people wanted me to be. Family. Friends. The internets. Society. Man…even the person I thought therapists wanted me to be.
Uh, that turned out well… (a note on the therapist part: I can now see I was so embarrassed by my feelings that I was afraid to share those deepest ones—the ones, of course, that most need to be shared. This was never a conscious thing—I had no idea how to even access them until a few months ago.)
I didn’t think I deserved to travel. Deserved to live my dream of living by the beach in California. I was supposed to just stick on that traditional life path with the two kids and white picket fence.
I’m not at all slamming anyone who is on that “traditional” life path. As long as that’s what you want, not what you think you should do. Life is WAY too short for shoulds. I wasted 36 years should-ing.
I was not put on this earth to live a life that can be put in a box. (Hi, I’m an Aquarius.) I have stepped away from that timeline and into my own life.
It involves writing.
Sharing my story—all of it, even/ESPECIALLY the messy parts. Because I am messy as fuck, but I live and love with all of my heart. I want the best for myself. For those I love.
Seeing the world.
Connecting with others deeply and building community.
Being the weirdass goofball that I am and not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks.
Opening up my heart.
I’m done playing small and playing on someone else’s timeline. I’m not saying I don’t want those things—honestly, I have no idea right now if I do or not—but I’m also going to enjoy the fuck out of where I am right now, too. And I don’t just mean being by the beach, although it is absolutely fucking amazing to be living that part of my dream.
There’s a few things I’ve been reading to or listening to lately that ignited the thoughts in this post.
Grace wrote an amazing post on living at your own pace.
Danny J had a really thought-provoking podcast episode on “the mind fuck of aging.” She and her podcast host/bestie Jill both got divorced in their 30s, changing what they thought their paths would be—they are amazingly unapologetic about embracing the fuck out of the lives they’re living right now.
Ali had a recent podcast episode with Sarah MacKay Robinson of Oiselle, where they talked a ton about expectations. It’s more about motherhood, but so much unhappiness comes from when reality doesn’t measure up to our expectations—and we miss the amazing that’s around us.
Jordan wrote a post that slayed me. She writes about how her therapist called her a performer. “There is a difference between openness and authenticity. You speak about your emotions, but I’ve never seen you actually feel them. You perform them. And then you smile and put them away.“
Hi, that’s what I’ve been doing over here for 10 years. I can tell you the story of what happened and how I “feel,” but that’s long been the extent of my real processing. It now blows my mind that for a big portion of my adult life, I processed my feelings (in the limited way I knew how) on the internet, in real time. You’ve probably noticed that I have been pulling back more on writing about my emotions and what’s happening. I’m learning, at 36, how to feel my feelings offline and actually feel them and not blog them away, eat them away, exercise them away, drink them away…
Maybe this post doesn’t make sense either, but as much as I want to be an amazing writer—and a lot of the time I think I am a pretty damn good writer—I’m learning to let go of some of that wanting to be perfect, too.
It’s really tiring in my head.