"Dear Aunt Traci,
I need your opinion. I'm 24 years old and feel like I'm "behind" in life. I have a good job that I love, working full-time in my uncle's law office, and a steady boyfriend that I've been living with for 6 years. We have a couple of dogs and spend a fair amount of time with our families. It's a good life, but I have dreams of law school, and am still working on my undergraduate work, one class at a time. My friends are all getting married and having babies, or have graduated college already and are making their way up the career ladder. I feel like I should be farther ahead in life than I am and it's stressing me out! What are your thoughts?
Losing the Rat Race"
I have bad news for you. Are you ready? You're probably always going to feel this way. lol. How do I know this? Because I'm 50 years old, am an accomplished writer, mother of three, and have had an incredible life so far, and I still feel that way. I still look at my life and think, "I thought I was going to be so much more successful than this by now." Frankly, I felt that way when I was your age, too.
So, I guess what I'm saying is this. Instead of fighting the feeling that you're "behind" in life, try accepting it. When we have these voices in our heads that are telling us that we aren't good enough, the key isn't to tell the voice to shut up. Our feelings are calls to action. They're our soul's way of saying, "How can we course correct?"
On a practical level, for you, maybe work on being more gentle with yourself. You have a full life! Yes, you have goals for the future, but if you spend the "now" being focused on the future, you'll miss the now. And, then, when that future comes, you'll look back and realize how much you missed.
When my babies were younger, we lived in a rented house that intensely disliked. I reluctantly became the leader of my daughter's Girl Scout troop and hated going to almost every meeting. My marriage was falling apart, my husband developed a life threatening illness, and my oldest daughter left to go live with her father. But you know what? When I look back on those times, I don't remember that. I remember laying with my oldest on an air bed laughing 'til the wee hours of the night. I remember her getting a puppy and him eating everything in sight. (Clearly, I forgot that when I adopted my puppy Karl.) I remember teaching my younger kids to ride bikes, and the Monthly Movie Nights with the Girl Scouts.
You see, Losing, the only thing you are really losing out on is the enjoyment of your life right now. I guarantee when you are my age, you'll only remember the good times of now. So kiss your man, your puppies, enjoy learning the craft of law, take a deep breath, and don't worry so much. You life is right on track.
Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.
Saint Francis de Sales