I have always known that my life hasn't been the most conventional. When I was a baby, I didn't start crawling until my little brother (a year younger than I) came home from the hospital. I didn't start walking properly until he too, started walking. But those were just two things relating to my physical capabilities. For the last two decades, I have accomplished and achieved goals and dreams a little behind schedule. I knew why, in terms of both physical and emotional reasons. However, I didn't want to openly admit it to anyone else unless it was necessary, because I feared being accused of self-pity or acting like I was better than everyone else around me.
When I went away to school, the one thing I looked forward to the most was being able to get away from all that: the expectations, the looks, the endless questions, and the overall feeling of being under a microscope. What I didn't realize at the time was that this new phase of my life would present it's own set of challenges.
Experiencing modern day college and university culture, the issue was no longer just about what I was supposed to do, but who I was supposed to be. From women's magazines to encountering every day people, I was somehow given the message that the next four years (and my twenties in general) was the time to "run around, do what you want, and be free." That can and does tend to cover a number of aspects, from relationships to having a career. And even though I was skeptical about it, I thought "hey, everyone else is doing it, so why can't I?"
So I went out and experimented; thankfully, it was nothing insanely dangerous and I never wound up getting seriously hurt. Yet eventually, I began to realize that there were some things that I was just not comfortable with, particularly relating to guys. Over time I began to ask myself if those actions genuinely reflected my character.
And it took a while; I didn't start gaining a whole lot of self-awareness until I started my sophomore year. It wasn't like a light bulb going off in my head or anything of that nature. It was a process that took a lot of time and a lot of courage.
I believe that there is such a thing as self-discovery. Yet, it doesn't always have to be about taking all these unnecessary risks; most of the time, it might just be a matter of being able to stop and be honest regarding not only who you are, but what you want in life.
There was a time this year where I confided in a friend about a fear of mine; that I would end up getting myself into serious trouble because I was (and still am) incredibly naive about a variety of things. She looked at me and said, "I don't think you have to worry all that much. You're very intuitive and very of aware. I think you'll know when to take a chance and when to walk away."
Hearing those words definitely changed my attitude. I am a very strong believer in intuition, especially in times where there isn't a whole lot of time to pray about what you should do in the situation. If something in your gut is telling you that whatever you're doing is dangerous or wrong, by all means get the heck away from it!
The second big step was learning how to tune out the "this is what you should be doing" kind of talk, whether it be from myself, my peers, or some sort of media/cultural outlet. We all have different callings and different paths to take. We're not all destined to take these big steps (marriage, careers, children, etc.) all at the same time. A lot of things do happen for a reason, and timing definitely plays a big role in that. So instead of asking why, perhaps a better mindset would be to remember that you're right where you're meant to be, and that you will eventually go where you are meant to go.
Lastly, I had to stop basing my worth on who accepted (or who didn't) and what I achieved. It doesn't help in any way at all. I know that I am worth it simply because I am a human being who has a lot to give, and a story to tell. Just because I may not have attained certain aspirations thus far doesn't mean that I'm a bad person, or that there is anything wrong with me. I don't think it requires a whole lot more explanation then that.
I'm humbled to say that I feel comfortable right where I'm at; it doesn't mean that I'm not making an effort to move forward or chase after my dreams, but I'm not beating myself up about it or making comparisons to others. There are days where I get frustrated and anxious and impatient, but I try to remind myself that God knows what's best and that the best thing I can do is to just keep going.
It might not happen now, or for a very long time; but eventually, you will look back and begin to understand how and why various aspects of your life took the course that it did. But more importantly, you'll know that life is precious and that every moment, both good and bad, is worth appreciating.