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Milestone Myths - One Size Doesn't Fit All

Next month, I'll be 28. When I was a teen I thought I would be married, with kids, with a car, with a dog, and a house by now and I'm currently sat with only one of those things ticked off. I also thought I would be earning more money than I do, have a different job to what I have right now, and I certainly thought I would have travelled a lot more than I have. I thought I would still be living in the north of England, close to family and friends, having studied something else entirely at university. Does that mean I've failed because I didn't stick to this master "plan"? Failure is so far from the truth.

When we're 16, everything can seem so promising and certain. You can think that 25 sounds so old and that by that age, you will have your shit together and having now surpassed that age, I wish I could step back in time just to let 16 year old Amyleigh know that 25 is not the pinnacle. 25 is far from having everything sorted out. But it's not a bad thing. It's not a negative thing that my life didn't pan out as I expected because actually? It's pretty damn good as it is. It turned out that I have no real use for a car, that I work 9-5 hours that mean having a dog would be unfair on the animal, that buying a house is great but my goodness is it expensive and hard to do much else around renovations and savings. Marriage will come and it doesn't matter if that happened at 23 (I'm so pleased it didn't happen that young?!) or when I'm 53 - because it'll be right - and the same applies to kids.

Although it's easy to sit here as an adult (a term I still use very loosely in reference to myself,) and think "silly 16 year old - you had no idea!" the unfortunate truth is that many people will compare and contrast your life, how your timeline is panning out, to theirs and others and this general expectation we all seem to have. We seem to collectively have this niggling idea of what we're *supposed* to be doing at certain points in our life cycle and it can be tiring to see and feel the pressure of it all. How many times have you caught yourself comparing your progress and life to those who you attended school with for example? "Everyone is getting married or having kids and I'm sat here eating ice cream in my PJs at 8pm on wild Saturday night lmao" - the rhetoric needs to stop. There is no strict timeline that you have to follow and you should only analyse where you are in life if you're feeling dissatisfied because it's not what you want for yourself; not what other people expect or want for you or what you think you *should* be desiring in comparison to others.

It's a hard trip though. Your twenties? Fuck me, it's a minefield of awkward questions that are invasive that you usually have to politely joke about - and even more unfortunately, they seem to come from your family and loved ones more often than not.
Why don't you have a boyfriend?
When are you getting married?
Have you heard the pitter patter of tiny feet?
Wait - you're in a job without any chance of promotion?
Careful now, your body clock is ticking!

You can be single, extremely happy and content with your life and someone will still observe your life with a view that you're longing for other things or you have voids that need to be filled - it could be so far from the truth but it seems to be ingrained that there's milestones we all need to hit and if you're choosing not to pass those by and tick them off your list, there must be a reason behind this delay that's holding you back. It can be commonplace for people to ask these questions as if they're no big deal but, they're so incredibly invasive and shouldn't be normalised. Being asked these questions never makes me feel good. I am yet to meet someone who feels completely indifferent and unaffected by them.

I'm massively guilty of this over-analysing of others life decisions too, though. I've caught myself numerous times seeing an acquaintance move in with their significant other and thought "whoa, that was quick" (like I didn't do the same over 5 years ago,) or had some sort of negative thought about how someone's spending their free time or how many children they've decided to have. I've realised more and more over the past couple of years that I'm just adding to this stigma I say I'm so feverishly against and to be frank, I needed to cut it out. Everyone has their own timeline that suits them, their situation, their needs and wants. There isn't a right or wrong way of doing things. There isn't a particular order you have to stick to in your timeline and you can pick and choose what that timeline includes. Hell, you can completely scrap a timeline and start a fresh new one or branch off in different avenues in the search of happiness - do what you want, always.

It's important that we stop putting this pressure on ourselves as society because not only do we need to face people being nosy and asking questions that they have no business asking and certainly don't warrant a polite response from us but, we are then reflecting those questions onto ourselves and doubting our decisions and asking if we shouldn't be doing more in our lives. Of course pushing ourselves to be the best versions of ourselves is a good thing and wanting to better yourself is never a negative but when that enthusiasm and drive and motivation are fuelled by "maybe I should be doing this" or "*this person* is at this point in their life so I should be too" - that's when it becomes damaging. That's when we're not celebrating our lives and what we have accomplished because we're too blinded by and ideal that might not even be your ideal.

One size fits all is a lie in most capacities it is peddled within and life is certainly one of those capacities that that phrase simply doesn't fit into. Putting unnecessary pressures on ourselves means we are holding ourselves to "goals" that we might never reach nor even want to. We can be setting ourselves up to feel like failures when a few weeks, months, or years later, we could look back on a specific "failure" and realise it didn't actually make a blind bit of difference to how we've progressed or how content we are with what we have. Opportunities in life can lose a bit of their sparkle and shine if you don't approach them with the excitement and fresh eyes of just being present and wanting things at that time. If you're deciding things based on sticking to a predetermined agenda, aren't you worried you're going to miss out on the fun life has to offer?

Take all the time in the world with your life decisions. Choose what feels right and when it feels good and never compare it to what could have been or what others are doing. Stay in your lane when it comes to judging others life choices but by all means dip, swerve, and change up your own lane as often and as much as you want when it comes to your timeline. Make it work for you and don't worry about what's working for others. I'm going to finish up this post because I've already been on my soap box for quite long enough but, to coin some cliché phrases: you do you. Be happy. And just be the best version of yourself. You've got this, this thing we call "life".

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