The five-years question. It’s the staple for every job interview I’ve ever entertained. Where do you see yourself? While I understand the suit on the other side of the table is looking for some kind of reassurance that their candidate has goals, a plan, and their shit together, it stirs me. I’m terrible with this “Q,” mostly because what I desire in that chunk of time is merely abstract.
Sure, I have a general idea of where I’d like to be in half a decade. But it’s more of a rough outline with bullet-points, asterisks, and foot notes. My plan is malleable because it has to be—life is far too unpredictable. I’ve accepted this fact because in doing so, in adding flexibility to a plan society believes should be so concrete, I’m free to enjoy my current.
Do not wish away time. What happens now is as equally important as what happens later.
I’ve witnessed too many buckle trying to realize the world’s overwhelming expectations of “normal.” The ones who panic because their own plans aren’t matching the ages with which they desire these plans coincide. The ones who sacrifice happiness for a mark in a checkbox; jobs, marriage, babies. The ones who follow “rules.” My heart aches for all of them.
However, in no written document is one told to, in this specific order, attend college, graduate, employ yourself, find a partner, date your partner for three years, marry said partner, procreate, purchase a home, raise your children, fold your towels in thirds and stack neatly, then retire yourself. If that document does, in fact, exist, I will buy it. Then, I will light it on fire.
Life does not come with a handbook for proper living, and no two humans will do life the same. To “the norm,” I respectfully throw the middle finger.
I would love to meet and marry a man who elevates me as a human being—a man who stands beside me, equally, as my partner-in-crime. I would love to have his children, and raise them to approach life with the same ferocity as myself. I would love to build my home on expansive land, with incredible lighting, a claw-foot bathtub, and a garden. I would love, at the age of 62, to still get piss-your-pants drunk with my girlfriends on a weeknight because I’m retired, and I can.
I have for those, however, no timeline. And no order. And no promise.
“I will find someone special eventually, though now is not that time. And I will not compromise the most important traits. I will not settle because I deserve gold.”
—Just Keep Swimming, 10.9.13
To myself, and others, I say this. Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll parent, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll choose an apartment over a lovely three-bedroom ranch. Maybe you’ll move home. Maybe you’ll divorce. Maybe, at age 35, you’ll decide to go back to school and earn a degree. Maybe it’s your first degree, maybe it’s your second. Maybe your lesser salary job is more conducive to family life. Maybe your career is most important. Maybe we should all give less of a fuck, and do these things sans fear of judgement.
Be secure knowing the choices you make for yourself are yours alone, and what’s best for you. And that as long as you don’t violate the rights, or hearts, of others in your process, you’re free to live as you choose. Do not settle.
In five years, in fifty years, I hope only for happiness. And that I am whole, and healthy, and pleased with my journey; whatever form it takes. Because life without authenticity is no life at all.