I dreamt of snakes last night.
In both a disturbing, and very vivid dream, I sat on my bathroom sink talking casually to my mother. Without warning, I was surrounded by snakes, all huge, menacing, and threatening to strike. Scared and unsure of what to do, I looked to her. She immediately produced two knives and tossed them to me (because clearly, she was a samurai warrior of sorts), and simply yelled, “Keep going!” One by one, I beheaded each snake until the last one coiled up and died.
By the time I reached my 26th birthday, I didn’t even do my usual inventory of my life as a 25-year-old. I just kind of kept it moving. You see, by 26, I was absolutely sure that I would be doing one of three things: working on the staff of someone’s magazine, producing thought-provoking programs on someone’s network, or finishing up my first book — a good 500 pages of fantasy.
Though I’ve been blessed to do much of what I’ve set out to accomplish, it hasn’t been an easy road, and what I envisioned as being a straight line, has often been a winding path filled with insecurities and questions.
I imagine I dreamt of snakes because my personal obstacles haunt me every day, the snakes seem to represent fear and uncertainty for my future, something I always worry about. My mother, who has always been my biggest cheerleader, always told me that the path we set out to lead will never be clear, but without question we are where we’re supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there.
But the truth is, I still don’t know where “there” is, and as I cross the threshold into my late twenties, I’m as unsure as ever.
I’ve now had experience with a lot of life’s lessons, fortunate to be able to attempt different jobs to see where I best fit, all while trying to make the most of a journalism degree without going broke, oh, and managing to stay off the pole while doing so, (because yes, there are certainly moments when turning tricks seemed much more appealing than a 9-5! But that’s another post).
But it’s time to let go of this silly timeline that we create for ourselves that says if we don’t accomplish X by Y, then it’s all over. As you continue on your journey, your goals will change, your head will clear, and you will delve into something new and probably more rewarding than anything you could’ve imagined. The snakes will die. More importantly you’ll learn that you are never too old to begin creating history.
I questioned this until I looked at some the figures who best serve as examples — Jay-Z dropped his first album, Reasonable Doubt, at age 26. Toni Morrison wrote her first book in her early thirties. It’s not too late.
I had a timeline all my life. It has gone nothing as I expected.
So it’s time to ditch it, and just be satisfied knowing that what’s been done up until this point has all been worth it.
What do you think? Are you living on a timeline?