Self Worth & Personal Achievements + Pregnancy Update

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Still pregnant. That’s the update.

Desperately trying to hang on until February 4th. I really want to give baby girl the chance to gain a little more weight before entering the world. It’s certainly translating on the scale as I grudgingly watch the numbers climb one pound after another. The Doctors keep telling me a lot of it is due to fluids, so I’m only crying on the inside…

But seriously, more than just gaining weight, why the obsession with Feb. 4th? Baby girl is due on Feb. 3rd so why is the day after so important?

The reason, very loosely, leads me to today’s topic: our fixation on time and personal achievements. In my early twenties (you’ll soon notice that I reference my twenties a lot because they were only 3+ years ago, and I did a crap-ton of growing up in the last decade), I had outlined my life and every prominent milestone. From completing a novel, to getting published, to knowing where I wanted to be in my professional career and financial goals, to building my family, and purchasing a home. I had it mapped out.

I know what you’re thinking. Control-freak? Yes. It quieted my anxiety and gave me peace of mind.

Then things got derailed.

I got engaged to my high school sweetheart in 2012 at the age of 27 just like I’d hoped. The timeline was panning out perfectly. Kids by 28-29, we already had a house, so that goal was checked off, the next step was to get published at 30.

Except, here’s the thing about well-crafted plans, sometimes it’s not on the same page as your heart. As the wedding planning ramped up, my heart spoke louder and louder.

Doubts stronger than anything I’d ever felt began to eat away at me. Staying on the path suddenly looked to be completely and utterly unfair for the both of us. Stripping away all the bullshit, it became clear how fiercely we’d insulated each other from the world. I looked around and realized we were on an island, and it had left us resentful, lonely, naive, and far from fulfilled.

There was more for us to experience before plunging into marriage. And when that time came, it wasn’t going to be with each other. In the end, the choice to go our separate ways came from a place of love and respect.

I’ve never spoken publicly about this experience because it’s no one else’s business. It’s a private, incredibly painful moment for two people and their families. But enough time has passed, we’ve all moved on. I believe it’s important to share because I’ve talked to a lot of women, and in hearing their struggles, I frequently saw a glimpse of my 27-year-old-self looking back at me.

We can be so obsessively fixed on pursuing the idealistic futures we’ve painted for ourselves–comparing and envying the lifestyle of others, in the hopes that our future is just as beautiful, even if some part of us knows it’s not what we really want. Sometimes we feel like we’ve come so far–that we’re in too deep–the idea of pivoting, slowing down, retracing our steps, or starting anew sounds impossible.

You might have kids, have a mortgage, debt, perhaps almost finished with your degree, or soaring in a career you’ve spent over a decade building. You dream of retiring at 40 or living that blissful 4-hour workweek. You want to have your masters or your Ph.D. by a certain age because you have other shit you’d like to get done soon after. Your family or that voice in your head tells you that you’re young, you have energy, enthusiasm, and the best time to do x,y,z is now!

But then halfway through, you realize that some of those ambitions were too aggressive. Or maybe they weren’t your dreams at all. Someone else impressed them upon you and at the time it sounded like a great plan. Maybe life happened: you got ill or someone you love does, and you can’t finish in the time you wanted. Perhaps you’re simply exhausted. Running on fumes. Tired of pushing yourself so hard, for so long only to see life passing you by. Instead of fulfillment, you’re lonely and depressed. You know this isn’t how it’s supposed to feel.

So what? You turn your back? Be the Anna in her 20’s and just walk?

No. Please don’t do that. Be smart about your choice, and deeply conscious of who it will impact. It would be incredibly short-sighted if you broke your promises on a whim. There are responsibilities that demand your continued commitment, and the other “goals” are no less important because they can still bring substance and meaning into your life–that is…if you still want them.

What you can relieve yourself of–as I have–is the fixation that your future achievements are on this predetermined timeline and that they can’t be altered, like stops on a bullet train to success. Undoubtably, the bigger the change, the more painful the transition. Nothing is going to spare you from the rough patch ahead, but at least you know, and can now focus on this new horizon.

One thing we all need to stop doing is comparing our lives to others. It’s hard, I know, to stop from seeing your peers with their picture-perfect lives, beautiful homes, grand vacations, accumulating cars and other stuff, and believing that their “accomplishments” mean that somehow you’re behind. You’re in your own lane in this marathon we call life.

Success is subjective

The train doesn’t have to have a new end-point. I chose to start over even though I had no idea how long it would take to recover. Hope and optimism is the bare minimum you can ask of yourself. All I had to cling to was the belief that someday I would be fine again. My train just took a fun detour through a dark tunnel.

Once I let go of my obsession in making something of myself by a certain age, I felt freer. Who says you can’t go back to those milestones? What’s another four or five years? Why is deviation so scary? Once those years pass, it will feel like a distant memory. Sure, you’ll probably wish you could have done x,y,z sooner but what’s the point?

They say life is short

But only if you’re letting it pass you by; only if you’re not spending enough time appreciating the moments. Barring health issues, you most certainly have time…enjoy it the way it makes sense for you. A friend once told me that after college, you still have at least forty years in the workforce. “Think about that,” he said. That’s plenty of time to have multiple careers where you could possibly have a decade or more of experience in each! You can apply the same thought in other areas of your life: marriage, kids, hobbies, business aspirations. Yes, some things are harder as you get older–some even physically impossible–but the point is that not everything has to be achieved in your twenties and thirties.

Take more time to focus on your health and again, stop comparing your life to others. It’s an exercise in masochism.

Everyone’s path is different for a reason. How else are we going to expand our awareness, build empathy, teach one other, and discover new ideas?

You’ll make mistakes. Everyone does. I’ve made plenty. I don’t say that with any ounce of pride but with reverence and humility. No single decision will define you as bold, strategic, lucky, successful or any of their respective antonyms. Those labels are an accumulation of your choices. Own your part and grow from there.

Okay. End rant. Now, where was I?

Ah yes, I’m praying that baby girl comes on Feb 4th. I’m still a planner. That hasn’t changed. I am, however, much more flexible than I was in the past. So if baby girl comes before or after that date then hooray! All I ask is that she’s healthy.

I want that date because of something way less sensible…

Luck.

Two, four, and combinations of those two digits have been my lucky numbers since high school. And now that I’ve revealed this, excuse me while I go and change all my passwords…


As always, thank you for stopping by and catching a brief wave in the ocean that is my life. I’m so proud to have come this far. Still walking off some old injuries and finding myself dwelling on memories better left untouched, but it’s all good. Life is beautiful thanks to all the wonderful people in my tribe. Lotsa love,

~A

One thought on “Self Worth & Personal Achievements + Pregnancy Update

  1. Meradeth Houston says:

    Ahh, I feel this post on a very deep level (not including the fact that my lucky numbers are 2 & 4 as well, just reversed as I’m an April baby ;). I don’t know how often I find myself running in this circle mentally: I’m so exhausted/stressed/fed-up/angry about my job, but I am *so* incredibly lucky to have a tenure-track position (like <1% of grad students get one…). So, am I being ungrateful for hating my job sometimes? For wanting to run screaming into the mountains? I worry about that way too much. Lately I've been really trying to just find those moments that do bring me joy at work, though that wish I could just be a huge bestselling author and live on a beach is so dang tempting… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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