Wise Words: Let Go of Your Timeline

by Dreux Dougall

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.

Enter 26.

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?

  • http://twitter.com/AprilImpact April D. Byrd (@AprilImpact)

    This is great! Very true and exactly what I needed to hear at the moment. Thank you!


  • http://gravatar.com/laneemarlena Poppy

    I was like you, I did have a timeline…do A,B,C…X,Y,Z by the age of 30. But I just turned 26 and all the past timelines & due dates I set for myself have faded away, some goals accomplished but most of them I’m no where near. I realized to just let everything flow & stop trying to put due dates on my life. I know what I want out of life, so I just have to work hard to get these things & live the life I want and not worry so much about WHEN it’s going to happen. Because I know it will if I am persistant & have faith.

    Great post, this has been on my mind lately :-)

  • http://writeitout.wordpress.com Natsai

    I’m going to begin my blog now! Thank you for the inspiration

  • May

    Love it!!! I need to hear this, its not easy to do yet I will try my hardest and do not worry. Everything will happen for me in due time. Not everyone’s path is straight for some we have to take a few turns and bumps along the way. I feel that it what gives you the strength to persevere through it all. Thank you :)

  • http://[email protected] Blackgirlmd

    I keep hearing this but I always disregard it. Jus being honest.

  • Shelly

    I needed this post. Whenever I hear about someone who is very successful or doing something I wish I were doing and they are younger than me, I get a little insecure. Sometimes I look at my life and hope that I won’t be where I am now in a couple more years. I am 23 (24 is comin in a month or so)and I am still an undergrad and sit next to an 18 year old in one of my classes. I know that greatness doesn’t have to come at a very young age, but sometimes I feel this society tells us that growing old is equal to growing worthless. I feel like I have one of those timers filled with sand constantly haunting me. I know I just have to keep on moving, though.

  • BrownSugar

    I Absolutely LOVE THIS!!..

  • http://gravatar.com/curlplease curlplease

    Thanks for sharing! I really needed to read this! I recently had a similar dream about snakes too, and it made we worry about the things that trouble me. What/who does/do the snakes symbolize, this post helped me put it all into perspective.

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