Into who you thought you'd be

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'Cause when you live in a world
Well it gets into who you thought you'd be
And now I laugh at how the world changed me
I think life chose me after all

-Dar Williams

I've been thinking a bit about how much different life is than how I'd imagined it would be 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Ten years ago, I was 16. It was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, and I was spending it waiting tables, swimming, and thrift shopping. I was spinning my wheels, anxiously awaiting the passage of another year and then getting the hell out. Out of Elkton, of high school, of the holding pattern. I didn't yet know where I was going to college, but I knew I was going. I didn't think much beyond that. I don't know that I ever really even considered what life would look like with 30 on the horizon, as an honest-to-God grown up. In general terms, though, I knew that I wanted excitement, romance, travel, a fast-paced, urban life full of brilliant, sexy people. Whatever was anti-traditional, anti-small town, anti-everything I grew up with, that's what I had in store for me.

Even five years ago, just post-college and setting out on my own for real, with a troubled, embryonic relationship weighing me down, no real job, and dangerous instincts, I still had a similar vision of eventual fame, money, drama, unsuitable men and illegal drugs. I still had an idea about being someone stuck in my head, and a very specific and not particularly suitable idea of what "someone" is.

If I'd been given a magic mirror at 16, or at 21, that showed me what my life would look like now, I'd have been disappointed. I'd have been making a plan on how not to end up where I am.

And I'd have been wrong. Because what I have now, where I am now--it's not where I intended to be, but it's where I should be. I haven't ever really been the type to dream about being safe and secure, but that doesn't mean it's not a good thing to be. And the types of bigshots I always imagined myself being...I don't know if I could have done it/still could do it or not, but I do know that as I get older, I see the appeal of smaller changes. I might have been convinced 5 or 10 years ago that the only way to make my mark was to become a star journalist, or a trial lawyer, but I now know that there are lots of ways to make that mark, and that the less fantasty-fueled ones matter more.

I'm going home for a visit tomorrow, which always gives me the impetus to do some sort of inventory of my life, and doing that inventory, I'm pretty happy with what I'm finding. I'm now where I expected to be, or, probably where my friend and family expected me to be. But where I am is good.

2 Comments

Great post. I've been thinking about similar issues lately (I think because I turn 29 soon, which we all know is practically 30...) That Dar song is my favorite, it gives me chills.

What's your beef with arrested development? Golly!

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