The Time I Wasted Waiting For My Life To Begin

The time to live has always been now.

I’m one of those people who buy a cute outfit and then puts it away for a “special occasion.” The problem is that special occasion never comes. That pretty dress hangs in the closet, waiting to be worn and only gathers dust.

Lately, I feel like my life has been gathering dust. I sit on the sidelines, watching as everyone else is #livingtheirbestlife while I’m left to wonder when mine will begin.

I set high expectations. Almost too high, and when it comes to getting them fulfilled, everyone always falls short. I project outwardly what should be a conversation between me, myself, and I. I tell myself lies that everything and everyone is holding me back from my goals when the only person getting in my way is myself.

I spent the entirety of my 20’s chasing what I thought everyone else had. They were in relationships, so I had to be in one. I picked men who were all wrong for me. I never stopped to get to know myself, so what could I expect to offer anyone else?

All those relationships failed spectacularly. I never settled into any one career path. I opted instead to take whatever position I could get that would ensure the rent was paid with a little leftover for crap I didn’t need.

I wasted so much time worrying about the lives of others.

My thirties I spent chasing kids and losing myself in the process. But now that I think about it, I would have had to have found myself to have something to lose. I didn’t know what would make me happy, so I just dropped out of life altogether. It was easy to do. I had young children. I used them as an excuse to opt-out.

I can’t make your party. I can’t go on that vacation. I can’t invest in my goals and dreams. My excuse was always I had children, or I was too old. Too old to go back to school. Too old to chase after a dream. As if dreams had expiration dates.

The intensity with which your unfulfilled dreams will nag at you will only grow exponentially with time.

I grew restless, and I still wasted an entire decade focusing on what other people had that I didn’t.

Now I’m forty, and the shock of it has knocked me to my knees. With advancing age comes the realization that you’re not going to live forever. Those goals that always got set aside now do have an expiration date — the end of your life.

I’m marching in a line towards my inevitable demise, and I don’t know my place in it or when I will arrive at the front of it. All I know for sure is that I’ve got to do something before it’s too late.

I stop focusing on what other people have and take a long look at what I want my life to look like. What I learned when I stopped looking out and started looking in is that I never wanted what they had to begin with. My fascination was only there in part because I thought that they all had their lives put neatly together. That that was the track, I should be on to live a wonderful life.

But I have a beautiful life now, and all the rest is just frosting. It’s incredible how when you stop focusing on lives that aren’t your own. You can laser in on what you can do to make your life better.

The master plan started. I wanted to go back to school to learn what I didn’t know about creative writing. During the process of completing my Master’s Degree, I discovered a love for teaching. That observation is what is compelling me to get my Doctorate so that I can teach at the collegiate level. A goal I would have never dreamed up for myself if I wouldn’t have taken the first step of going back to school.

Once I stopped wasting my life, I started to live. I became less depressed, and I enjoyed life more. I learned to say no to the things that weren’t good for me. It wasn’t that I started being selfish. I started being self-oriented. I tailored my life to suit my needs. I cared about myself and decided it was okay to do whatever I needed to do to make life easier.

It took me twenty years of adulthood to finally figure out what I wanted my life to look like. Once I did, I made the discovery that I was already there. I just needed to let myself enjoy it.

MFA|Essayist| Author| IG: michelle_elizabeth_writer| Email:

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