Torn Between Who I am and Who I Thought I’d Be

Photo by Jack Williams

Often, I’ve found that I am my harshest critic. And recently, I’ve begun to see this playing out in a new and interesting way.

As a senior in high school I had a very clear vision in my mind of what I wanted my life to be. I would get my undergrad out of the way, I would move to New York to a studio apartment where I’d live, alone. I would enjoy the single life. I would get any job I could to pay for my lifestyle while I pursued my career. I would stay single. I did not want kids. I was content to be with myself and live in a relationship with my career and future success. Until  last year when my world got shaken up.

I never needed a boyfriend. I still don’t consider myself someone who depends on a relationship. But, last year, I fell in love.

Now, this isn’t a story about how I have decided to follow him wherever he goes because I’m a damsel who’s deliriously in love with some guy and now nothing else matters. But, throughout the course of our relationship, as things became more serious, the vision of my future slowly started to blur. How did he factor into this image of my fast-paced, single life in New York? The simple answer was: he didn’t.

As we continued to date, we got more serious and as conversations of marriage arose, I was forced to examine my life. I thought about what I really wanted. Where were my priorities now being placed? I found myself all of a sudden considering the idea of having children, and realizing that idea made me happy. I found myself being less and less repulsed by the idea of living in a house with a couple noisy toddlers and cooking dinner and seeing my husband walk through the door and scoop those toddlers up.

But as quickly as I let myself find joy in that scenario. I scolded myself. I thought to myself, “How can you do this?” How could I let go of this dream of New York, this thing I had coveted and loved in itself, so easily? I felt as though I had betrayed myself. I almost felt anti-feminist. I started to panic. I almost ended my relationship. I rolled these thoughts over in my head again and again until it was driving me mad.

That is when I realized, it was okay. I realized that as your life changes and you grow, your dreams are allowed to change and to grow alongside you. Do I still dream about being in New York? Yeah. Do I still hope to spend time living there, perhaps with my husband one day? Yeah, I do. Does the fact that I want kids one day, does the fact that I might want to stay home with them and take time off from my career mean I’m anti-feminist or any less independent than I always have been? No, it doesn’t.

Photo by Jack Williams

I’m obviously not saying there’s anything wrong with not wanting kids, or wanting to stay single for that matter. I say more power to you! But, I’ve had to learn to love where I am at, and not love where I used to be, or the romanticized idea I had of who I somehow should be. I have had to accept that I won’t always be the same person I used to be, and that that’s good! It’s a part of growing up and discovering life and love and letting those things have a fantastic impact on me. It’s something I have been terrified of doing for far too long.

So now, I’m learning to celebrate wanting new things. Bring on the nerves, bring on the rocking of the boat and watch me take the ride. Because I’m no longer backing down from it.