As I was looking around my room this morning at my parent’s house, it hit me — it has been 10 years this month since I left home, moved west for college, and then more west for my current life. Ten years is a very long time; the person I was when I was 10 and 20 was certainly different, and 17 and 27 is just as far of a stretch.
In my room, I still feel at home, and yet I feel like I’m so much bigger now, I’ve outgrown this space, this is the space where I hid away years ago. Now, I’m a grown up. I have my own life, but I haven’t actually found anywhere else that feels like home yet. I know one day, my parents will sell this place, and this room, the view, this life, will be gone. Gone forever, only available to access when I close my mind and daydream about the years gone by.
Growing up is frightening and wonderful all at once. I hate that I was so miserable as a child, but I can’t help but look at the entirety of my life and feel like I’m so much happier, on a whole, the way things are now. I still feel like an outsider looking in, but at the very least my talents and skills are better suited for “doing” versus “learning,” and childhood is a life revolving around academia and friendships — success by doing is often limited to praise for artwork or a school performance. I define myself now by my work — and when I’m depressed now it’s because I feel I’m not doing my job good enough. But often I feel like I’m doing a good job, which makes me proud of existing, and able to get through to the next day, and occasionally share a laugh with a colleague or friend.
Still, I feel a little lost on the overall meaning of life. Maybe that will take the next 10 years to figure out. I’d assume between 27 and 37 is when that all gets sorted. So much of that is the whole marriage and family situation, which still seems surreal when I try to contemplate what it means. I love my boyfriend dearly, we’ve been together more than 5 years now, yet I can’t help but wonder how all of that plays out. Part of me wishes I were dating someone more adventurous, after all I so rarely take meaningful risks in social settings, yet I love to meet new people, and therefore might be better suited to someone who would push me out of my comfort zone.
I sit around watching Millionaire Matchmaker and have fantasies about a life filled with conversation, travel, meeting new people and having new experiences. I fantasize about lots of ways life “could” be — and try to figure out how much of that is on me, on my own, to make that all happen, versus selecting the right significant other. Still, when I spend time to contemplate a life with another man who is more extroverted and adventurous than I am, I believe it would get tiring after a while. I love love; pure and simple. And I have that now — I have a boyfriend who, for some bizarre reason, still looks at me with such love in his eyes, and holds me tightly as we waste away the days. I don’t have incredible conversation (he rarely talks), but maybe that’s for the best — I can’t stand people who don’t shut up, and would rather have a guarantee of peace and quiet in my home life, knowing that when I come home after a long day of work, I won’t be expected to make conversation. Perhaps over the long run, that’s actually the better scenario — I can find friends to socialize with, but it’s hard to get a chatterbox to shut up.
It’s clear that whatever the right answer is, I need to figure it out soon. I’ve mostly figured it out. I can’t imagine my life without my bf, and whether it’s maturity or stability or just having him in my life, I don’t know, but I’ve never been happier. I’m still slightly bipolar (II), still have my ups and my deep downs, but I feel consistent, safe, and loved. I tell him often “don’t die” because my life would crumble without him. If that’s not enough of a sign that this is the right man for me, I don’t know what is.
So when does this next phase of my life start? I’m almost 28, many of my childhood friends are married, quite a few have children or have a bun in the oven, and I’m still single, comparatively speaking. Five and a half years into my relationship and still, no ring. Not that I’m in a rush — I’d rather wait and be sure than jump into anything too quickly. But at this point it’s tough to question whether we are or aren’t sure. If we are sure, and committed to continue dating, it’s at the point where I’d rather have that commitment, or force myself, as hard as it would be, to move on. I’m not getting any younger, and the fact remains that due to my medical condition it’s best to have children within the next five years. That’s not a lot of time to break up, find someone else to marry, marry them, and pop out a few kids. So that’s what scares me the most — I’m pretty sure, unless I mess things up, he will one day ask me to marry him, and I will say yes, and everything will still be on a nice schedule for that next phase of my life. I just don’t know if I’m ready to be that person yet; but I also know that it’s time to be a mother, to be giving of myself to my children, and to love harder than I’ve ever loved before. I’m tired to death of not having anyone to care about but myself, as that only leads to selfishness and narcissism. I want to take care of someone else. I think, I hope, I’m ready for that.