I’m running the risk of getting on a bit of a hobby horse with this one … but it’s too important not to say, so here goes!
I’m convinced many of us have a bad dose of milestone madness. From literally months old, our lives are plagued by the next achievement or attainment. Everyone always wants to know the ‘plan’ don’t they? What’s your next move? Where are you headed? What are you aiming for?
But what about what’s now? Here’s what I feel compelled to say today:
To the mum whose little ones aren’t speaking in sentences by the time they are six months, don’t panic.
Revel in those little nonsensical gargles and giggles that you’ll look back on in six years’ time with tearful nostalgia. Respond to those pointed, ‘when do you think he/she will talk’ comments with, ‘Aw, they’ll do it in their own time, but watch now as they respond with delight to my every word!’
To the teens who go through puberty later than most, and feel unattractive and out of place, please don’t panic!
I was an early developer, my friend was a later one. When we were younger people thought she was my little sister. I felt lanky and awkward being taller than all the boys, while she wished she looked as old as me. Now you couldn’t tell the difference. And who really cares, anyway? If someone teases you about being a late bloomer, call them out on their shallow attitude and tell them about the more important things that are blossoming in your life right now!
To the 18-year-old who didn’t get the results you wanted in your A-levels, don’t panic!
You can repeat if you want to. And if you don’t, there are plenty of other options available. Volunteering, travelling, tech, you name it. I took a gap year just because I could, and completely changed my career path as a result. When someone asks you ‘what you’re going to do,’ ask them to quiz you about what you’re learning through the change of plans!
To the university graduate who didn’t get your dream job on the day after your ceremony, don’t panic!
The average person changes career 5-7 times these days. Experience in different fields and industries only enriches your life, increases your social capital and enlarges your skill set. When someone asks you when you’ll ‘make it,’ tell them to ask you how you’re building on your employability now.
To those whose friends are all getting married but you have no relationship on the horizon just yet, don’t panic!
You are not ‘left behind.’ You are no less good-looking or interesting just because you aren’t joined at the hip with another person. Life is not a board game. They haven’t moved ahead several spaces just because they’re married or have kids. Some of the loneliest people in life are married. Next time someone provokes you about ‘moving forward with love’, ask them to press you on what you’re enjoying moving into right now.
To those of you who are dating and constantly being interrogated about when the ‘question’ will be popped, don’t panic.
Instead, slow down. Get to know each other. Talk about the hard things. All of them. Enjoy the adventure and the getting to know one another before wedding planning and house buying sweep you away like a whirlwind. When someone asks you when the big day is, give them a detailed catalogue of what your best days together have been so far.
To the couple who don’t want to have children as soon as they get married, don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into it just because people expect you to. Don’t panic!
Enjoy the holidays, the lie-ins, the DIY projects, the date days – if that’s what you want. Because the people who are winking and gesturing at your stomach will not be getting up five times a night with your baby.
And when you’ve had one, you’ll be asked about having another.
Maybe you don’t want to.
Maybe you don’t want to, yet.
Maybe you are struggling to.
Maybe the question causes you a lot of pain.
And this is why, when it comes to the whole children question, it’s ok to say to people, ‘You really shouldn’t ask about that.’ Why? Because it’s really not their business. And it’s not the right question actually.
If you have children, ask people to ask you how they bless and enrich your life. And if you don’t, they should be asking you what many other people and things are blessing and enriching your life right now. Because although children are a wonderful source of joy, by no means are they the only fountain of fulfilment.
I could go right on through every season of life, but I don’t feel at all qualified to talk about what’s next, because I haven’t been there yet. I don’t know enough about climbing the property ladder, or looking after elderly parents, or pensions, or wills, or funeral plans.
The long and the short of it is, please, at least some of the time, let’s stop fixating on what’s coming.
Let’s focus on the gift of the now.
Let’s stop applying the pressure and instead take time to pursue what’s present.
Let’s care less about the ‘lowdown’ and more about the learning.
Let’s quit idolising the next and start celebrating the moment.
Rant over! 🤪