Do you remember high school? I mean, really remember it.
I thought I’d grow up to be a model.
I’d forgotten about that until recently when I went back through and found the old diary I’d kept when I was 15. There’s a whole story in there about how I told my friend I wanted to be a model and she was like, “What’s your back up plan?” and I was like – “uh, RUDE” –then went off on a spiel about ambition and drive and told my super-rude friend that “If I didn’t believe I had a CHANCE to make my dreams come true, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning” – to which my dumb, mean friend said, “So you’re telling me that you wake up every morning and say to yourself ‘I’m going to be a model’…?”
No. No, I did not do that. I was ambitious and overly optimistic, but not clinically insane.
Her next question (according to my notes) was – “What are you doing to get there?” as in, what steps was I taking at that point in my life to make this whole ‘modeling dream’ happen. This should be the first question you ask yourself for any career path. If you genuinely want to do something, or “be” something in this case, you have to lay out a plan and take the necessary steps to get there.
I get that now – at 30 years old, but I did not get it at 15. Instead of coming up with a career plan at 15, I got all bent out of shape because my so-called-friend didn’t “believe in me”. How DARE she? I’m going to be a STAR!
I had no formal training. No experience. No portfolio. And when I’d asked my parents if they’d pay for modeling classes at Barbizon, they said – “Eh……..?” and changed the subject.
But still. I wanted to be a model! How DARE she ask me about my “plans”. Did she think I couldn’t get “discovered” at the mall like one of those girls on America’s Next Top Model? I thought we were FRIENDS!
So that’s who I was in high school: lots of ambition, a little bit of delusion. And a lot of frizzy hair.
I’ve always been big on goal-setting, and New Years resolutions, and to-do lists and plans and dreams and “vision boards” –
Okay, so I’ve never actually made a vision board. I’ve thought about it, if that counts for anything. But I’ve also thought about the idea of a woman in her (officially) thirties cutting pictures out of magazines and turning them into a collage on a piece of poster board… it just felt a little… look, I totallllllly would have done it in high school, okay? I would have been HERE FOR IT in high school. But as a thirty year old woman living with her fiancé in a tiny apartment? Sorry. We just don’t have the space for my big dreams, we barely have room for a Queen size bed.
BUT – like I said – I’m very pro-goal-setting. This year around New Years time, I asked Kyle what he wanted to *do* in 2019. “What are your goals?” (I said that. “What are your goals?” Like some sort of husband job-interviewer.)
He answered. (Kind of. “Work on photography, and stuff” – which I guess counts.) Then he asked me the same question. I responded – “I really want to work on my blog.”
“I really want to work on my blog” is the same old answer I’ve been giving for the last three years. It’s practically a reflex. I’ve had this blog for over THREE YEARS and I don’t even consider myself a “blogger”.
“Work on my blog” could mean anything. In my mind, it usually means:
- Write more.
- Figure out a theme/niche? All of the successful blogs have a theme/niche.
- Post more frequently!!
- Promote? How?
- Make blogger friends? Are there groups for this?
- DEFINITELY more pictures.
But what does any of that mean? The truth is, it doesn’t matter – because that’s usually as far as it goes. “Being a blogger” is being treated the same way I pursued “being a model” at age 15. Instead of investing in courses or trying to better my writing or even taking more Instagram pictures, I’ve just been sitting around for three years waiting on someone to “discover” it. Like some big blogger with a ton of traffic would stumble onto it one day and say “You’re great!!”, wave her magic wand and say “You’re officially a blogger now!!”
It doesn’t happen that way. Life doesn’t happen that way.
I realized this on my 30th birthday. Everyone has epiphanies on their 30th birthday, right? Is that a cliche? Mine wasn’t meant to be. I was perfectly content with turning 30. I’m cool with my career, I love my fiancé, we’re getting married later this year, I love the city I live in and the life I have and – yea, it’d be nice if we could get a dog, but otherwise, I’m good.
Of course there are still things I want to DO – like, “work on my blog”. Write a book some day. Start a family. Join that yoga studio down the street that I’ve been saying I wanted to join for, like, three months.
These are not “things I need to do before I’m 30”, they’re just “things I want to do. Eventually.”
On my 30th birthday, I was driving back home to Chicago after being in Des Moines, IA for work meetings, and I hit a patch of black ice and slid off the road. I had never “slid off the road” before. I’d never “hit a patch of black ice” before – I’ve heard people talk about black ice, but I never understood how someone “couldn’t see it”. If the roads are icy, they’re icy. Slow down.
The roads were not icy. I was not driving slow. I was driving on an interstate and going interstate-fast. Then I was in a ditch.
I hate being one of those people who say “if things had been different – that could have been a VERY BAD SITUATION”, because it always feels like trying to over-dramatize what happened.“Things happened the way they did, and everything turned out okay.” But in this case –
“If things had been different,” I’ve heard myself saying as I re-tell the dramatic tale of being stranded in Iowa, “it could have been a very different situation.” Am I being dramatic? I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. But is it true? Absolutely.
The car could have flipped. I could have hit someone. If you ask my mother to re-tell this story, she’ll tell you I could have died. (Now you know where I get my dramatics from.)
A few thoughts went through my mind when I realized that, sitting at a subway in the middle of Iowa as I waited for them to dig my car out, and my mother is on the phone telling me I could have died –
- IF I had died – I would have died listening to a podcast produced by three Bachelor alums talking about orgasms. Classy.
- IF I had died – it would have been a huge, cosmic nod to the universe playing a joke on me because I’d always said I “didn’t want to turn 30”.
- IF I had died – it would have been an accident. (Obviously. It’s not like anyone would have ruled it as a homicide or anything), but what I mean is – it would have been an accident. Just a stupid accident. This trip to Iowa had gotten scheduled last minute, my meeting in Des Moines had gotten canceled the day before, and it turns out I could have spent the entire trip in Davenport. I didn’t even need to drive the extra two and a half hours to Des Moines. I didn’t need to be there. But I was, and it was haphazard, and I decided to just “deal with it” and try to hurry back home to Chicago and just mark this trip off my calendar and THEN I ALMOST DIED.
For what? What am I doing with my time? Scheduling last minute meetings and rushing through days just to mark them off my calendar? What about the blog? What does “work on my blog” mean? Don’t I at least owe it to myself to find out? What about that book I want to write? What about building a new life with my almost-husband? What if all of that had been thrown away because a last-minute meeting got canceled and I was trying to rush through a work trip?
Don’t live life haphazardly. Sometimes it’s going to happen – but TRY to live with as much intention as possible. Plan your days. Schedule some of those things you want to do and make time for them – writing, yoga, whatever the hell “work on my blog” means. Make time for it. Make time for the person you want to be and the life that you want. You never know when it could all be taken away.
On a lighter note – I came home late that night to a decorated apartment (you guys, he DECORATED the apartment – balloons, streamers, those plastic swirly, spinny things – my sweet, adorable fiancé DECORATED) a chocolate cake from Whole Foods (my favorite), and a Tiffany’s bag with pearl earrings inside. Tiffany’s. I’ve always wanted to own something from Tiffany’s. My fiancé is the best.