I had two separate conversations with my girlfriends this weekend about how undeniably wrong we were in our younger days about what adulthood would look like.

If you had told us in high school that you don’t have to be married with children by your late 20s, that you still might want to hit the club and drop it low after getting in a serious relationship, and that your life plan is not necessarily going to be set and underway by 30, we would have looked at you crazy. And yet here we are: grown and growing all at once.

My mother had me at 36 and I long considered her to be an “older parent,” largely because so many of my classmates had parents that were nearly a decade younger than she. While weighing my own choices, I alternately appreciated the additional time she had to travel and live unencumbered by motherhood, while also fretting over waiting that “long” to have kids.

Now, while I have some comfortable distance away from 36 and would like to start a family a little sooner than that, I definitely see her choice to wait through very different eyes.

Many members of my generation are a bit slower to move when it comes to marriage and career, compared to those who came before us, for a number of reasons (some rooted in choice, others circumstantial). I only find it to be a bit jarring because for so long, I thought I was supposed to be settled by now… ha! I’m anything but, but I’m sure enjoying the process.

I have a man, and while I would not consider sitting around waiting for years for him to decide he wants to get married (or, worse, that he wants to get married to me), I’m not putting myself on some sort of crazy deadline for when I have to have a ring. I joke about my ideal date (06/08/14… he’s an Alpha, I’m an AKA and it would be cute, k?), but I’m actually chilling. If and when it’s supposed to be, it shall. I will have the babies and the home life that I want when I should have them, not when some antiquated societal calendar deems it so.

While my path is hardly unique, it’s also quite different from those of my many classmates and friends who have already settled in their careers, jumped the broom and/or created a bundle of joy (or two). There is no “normal” when it comes to these things anymore. The girl who had her family at 25, the one who opted out of the entire mommyhood thing and the one who’s weighing her adoption options for when she turns 40, can all sit at the same table and sip sangria quite comfortably.

I’m glad to be able to grow and go and shift and shape my future without panic. Not to say that I never do, but deep down, I know that there is no need to fret about time, because this isn’t the 1930s and we just aren’t racing to be settled the way our grandparents did. I’ll be printing this out to read on the occasions that I do let myself get a little freaked out about where I am versus where I thought I would be at this point back when I was 17, and I think some of the fab and free ladies out there reading this should consider doing the same!

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