Someone lied to me about life. Maybe it was school. I don’t think it was my parents because my dad always says “no one ever told you it would be easy.”
But someone, somewhere sold me a fantasy of what life was supposed to be and it’s nothing like I thought.
If you would have asked me at 18 where I thought I would be at 29, I probably would have said “Married with my first kid and a killer executive job at some company.” None of that. LOL. I am engaged, no kids, and nowhere near an exec, though I am a Project & Membership Manager and the owner of a little engine that could business called WriteLaughDream, LLC. Life takes so many twists and turns it’s not even funny. My 18 year old self had no idea what would change, what things would happen, or what friends would fade away.
She was bright eyed and on her way to college and in the best shape of her life and ready to take on whatever came to her. And now this girl is still really optimistic but at times scared and skeptical. She’s working her butt off but not really knowing how to measure her success without a school curriculum to tell her “good job” with A’s and an advancement to the next grade level. She is floating. Holding on to the fact that she knows true success is not measured by material things but combating her longing for those same material things so that she somehow knows she’s on the right track.
How will anyone know how successful I feel if I am not driving a BMW X6? How can anyone trust that my business is impactful if I still have a 9 to 5 job? How can I know that my writing is good if I have to continue to self-publish and do it all on my own? Well, I don’t always have those answers. I am Sway out here in these streets. And at times I am on top of the world and at other times the world feels like it’s on top of me.
But that is what I have learned life to be. We think it’s this diagonal trajectory to this mystical place of success and happiness. But in real life that thing is the scariest roller coaster you have ever been on with loops and dips, launches and declines like you have never experienced. You make a great career move and experience a heart wrenching break up. You move to the place of your dreams and lose a good friend to cancer. This is literally how life hits you at times. Meanwhile we watch celebrities on reality TV that seemingly are living the good life but are so jacked up inside their money will never save them. Yet we still make that our goal. Fame and fortune.
I have learned that my life has been full of the most contradictory trajectories and even in the moments when my mind knows so much better I fall into the traps of thinking that my joy will come from anywhere or anything but the Lord. I fear, that if I don’t get this lesson on the inside of me right now, at this point, I will never in my life be happy. As long as it lingers on who commented and retweeted and how much money is in the bank, I will ALWAYS be disappointed. And so will you.
We are not waiting to live a life. Life is happening around us each and every day and we are missing it while we look at this imaginary context of what it is supposed to be. All the money, all the business success, all the perfection. That IS NOT life. Life is hard work, feeling like giving up, insurmountable joy, finding peace, losing peace, finding religion, losing it and finding it again. It’s all those things. And somehow we have to learn to embrace the curves.
For me, the thing that has kept me most sane is God. I don’t know how the rest of you are doing it. Because there are times when I am just not sure. Can we be really honest here or do we have to keep up appearances? There are times when I feel like I want to give up trying to be anything or anyone. When you are trying to do things that NO ONE around you is doing, it gets lonely, tiresome and scary as hell. We are grasping for blueprints. Grasping for people’s success stories so we can really feel like it’s possible. Most people around us just go to work every day and have their little life and that’s fine for them. And as you strive to do more and face opposition, the more you wonder, why am I even trying? And the reality is, you are because God made you that way. He didn’t make you like the people around you. He gave you the assignment of pursuing the extraordinary. And well, that’s just your cross to bear.
Listen, life is good and life is hard at times. That’s what real life is. And your measure of success literally has to be in comparison to who you were before. As long as you are measuring it up to anyone else’s, you will be losing. Believe me. Because it will never stop if that’s the way you view it. Once you get the house, someone will have a bigger house. Once you get the promotion, someone will still have a higher position. It will go on FOREVER! So do me a favor. Let’s embrace life better than we have before. Let’s kick whatever non thought out goals we had at 18 and realize that even though we have plans, God does too. Cool?
How about you? Do you feel like you had some type of false sense of what adulthood would really be like? Drop a line in the comments below.
For more from Ashley Coleman, visit her blog, Write Laugh Dream.WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.